Premier League cash allows work to start at St Andrews

Eddie Jack, left, St Andrews FC chairman, and Michael Banham, Norfolk County FA chairman, at St Andr

Eddie Jack, left, St Andrews FC chairman, and Michael Banham, Norfolk County FA chairman, at St Andrews FC where work has started on improving the clubhouse due to a grant. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

As clubs around the country celebrate the annual Non-League Day there is added cause for celebration at Anglian Combination Premier Division stalwarts St Andrews.

That follows news of almost £100,000 in funding being awarded to the Thorpe St Andrew club to carry out much-needed renovation work to their clubhouse.

The biggest chunk of that money (£76,503) has come from the Premier League and Football Association Facilities Fund, with the remainder (£19,951) from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

St Andrews chairman Eddie Jack is thrilled to see the work has already started at Thorpe Recreation Ground, in Laundry Lane, but wants to see more of the riches from the top end of the game flow down to grassroots level.

'It's been incredibly hard to get this money,' Jack said. 'We've had to jump through an incredible amount of hoops and when you see a billion pounds being spent in the transfer window – and we only needed £100,000 for this...

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'But we are incredibly grateful to them, once we've ticked all the boxes, for getting there.

'So to receive the funding is a fantastic thing for the football club, so it is good to see it, I think there should be more money dripping down because there are a lot of clubs in the same situation as us – but this will make a huge difference to us.'

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St Andrews have played in the Anglian Combination top flight for all but two of the past 47 years – finishing fourth last season – and celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2014.

They have never stepped up to the Eastern Counties League, largely due to having no floodlights because of being in the centre of a residential area, although there are hopes that Section 106 community funding generated from developers building new housing in Thorpe will provide new facilities for the Recreation Ground.

With further support from Broadland District Council, Norfolk FA and the Football Foundation, work on the clubhouse is on course to be completed in October.

'The money that we've gained from those guys is going to massively change the football club, totally redevelop our clubhouse, which was in a bit of a state and didn't meet Step Seven regulations, the changing rooms weren't good enough,' Jack continued.

'So we need to change everything inside so this money is going to do that. New changing facilities, new refereeing changing facilities, new female referees changing facilities, new toilets, completed rewired, re-plumbed, new roof and making a big difference for the playing experience for the players that come here.'

St Andrews has 150 junior players on its books, from the ages of 12 to 16 – with a similar number involved with Thorpe United Ladies, which amalgamated with the club in 2014 – and hopes to continue building its youth system.

Non-League Day takes St Andrews to Cromer for their next Premier Division match today, as they look for their first win of the season.

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