Deal Town Football Club welcomed me to the Charles Ground last week. Chairman Dave Chmura showed me around the recently refurbished facilities in St Leonards Road.
We chatted in the plush hospitality suite, before popping into the new club house and walking out onto the pitch. Mr Chmura told me how they are now able to hire out the club house to groups including the NHS heart therapy team, MAPS learning difficulties/disability group, EE Fitness classes and new club sponsors Channels & Choices foster care company.
He also showed me the new "stand", a double decker bus being converted so fans can watch the game from the seats inside. They also discussed the club's ambitions to have a 4G pitch, so more local youngsters and adults can play at the Charles Ground throughout the whole year. The modern facilities at the club, playing in the Southern Counties East Football League, were built following a huge fire in 2011. Some 30 firefighters were called out to tackle the blaze that destroyed a partially completed new pavilion.
It was great to come and meet Dave at the Charles Ground to see the great work he, the directors and a small force of volunteers have been doing. From the ashes of the fire in 2011, they have built something truly impressive. The new hospitality suite and clubhouse are fantastic – surely the best facilities in the league! From these foundations I'm sure the club can keep building a bright future and boost attendances even further. No-one likes to see a team 'park the bus'. But Dave assures me the brilliant new double-decker stand will be behind the goal – not in front!
Mr Chmura said: "What you see now is really only the beginning of what we aim to achieve here. Yes it all looks bright and beautiful but unless we can replace the aging floodlights our current league status is in jeopardy.
"To maintain our dream of a fully committed club for the whole community we need a 4G pitch working 24/7.
"The grass pitch, although looking the best it's ever been, cannot take the strain of everyday use.
"We should have a constant stream of children playing football here during these school holidays and adults playing late into the evenings.
"We have already received welcome help from Kent County Council councillors Trevor Bond and Derek Murphy but we need 100% backing from every Dover District Council councillor – because Deal Town FC should be the heart of the district's community. This is a venue for every single person in the area not just for a few football fans.
"Thanks to DDC our new 99 year lease should see football and maybe other sports played here into the next century and as we are only the current custodians, we need to build and leave a sustainable legacy for future generations.
"As we say in the clubs newly adopted battle cry: 'Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now!'"
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