0 Team has sinking feeling over waterlogged pitch

A Sutherland football club is desperately trying to find a way to get urgently-needed drainage work carried out on its pitch, which is frequently too wet and muddy to be used for home games.

Allan Ross, who is a member of Bonar Bridge Football Club committee, yesterday said they were only able to play four or five of their 10 home matches on the Highland Council-owned pitch last season.

The club, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, then had to pay other local clubs, such as Balintore and Alness, to use their pitches for the North Caledonian League - also know as the Highland Reserve League - games and for cup matches.

Mr Ross said they hoped the situation could be resolved before the start of the new football season but nothing was done, and the team's first home game is against Balintore tomorrow.

He said: "It's always been a wet pitch but, over the years, it's got worse and worse and it became wetter still when three new houses were built next to it a couple of years ago. The last home game was last October, and we haven't been able to play on it since."

Mr Ross said it also meant the squad could not train on the pitch - instead they have to pay £800 a year to train on the Tain all-weather pitch.

"It desperately needs to be drained. It's about 50 years old and it's got old field drains which are collapsing and clogging.

"I reckon it would cost about £15,000 to £20,000 to put right. We've asked the council to get it done but they say they can't afford it.

"At it's worst, there's about a foot of mud on it. We can't paint lines on it. You can't even walk across it with wellies on.

"It's such a shame. It's the only football pitch for a big area of Sutherland and for eight months of the year it's out of action," said Mr Ross.

Jim McGillivray, who is one of the East Sutherland and Edderton members on Highland Council, said he thought it was important that a solution was found soon and advised the club to draw up plans of the work required, calculate the cost and then see how much of it they could do themselves.

He said: "It can be a protracted process if they wait for it to get on to a council budget and a bit of direct input can sometimes go a long, long way."

Mr McGillivray said the pitch was also used by Bonar Bridge Primary School and the Gaelic unit at the school.

A council spokeswoman said: "Our education, culture and sport area business support officer will, with colleagues from housing and property services, follow this complaint up by visiting the site to identify where the problem is and look at ways of making improvements."


Source:- www.pressandjournal.co.uk/

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