We bring you a round up of the first stage of Club Website’s tour of some of the worst football facilities around the country.
Birmingham was our first port of call, where we headed to Senneleys Park in the Bartley Green area of the city bright and early on a Sunday morning in December.
Having heard a few dodgy things about the facilities and pitches there, we weren’t expecting great things… and what we found lived right up to our expectations!
The changing room block in the middle of the park was a tired-looking building covered in graffiti and looking generally run down.
Nothing too unusual for park buildings there but, as we’d heard, the facilities in the park are currently closed – renovations scheduled for the summer have overrun well into the season – so we found the teams turning up for the morning’s games were forced to get changed in the car park.
They needn’t have bothered though, as all but one game was called off because of waterlogged pitches – a big problem at Senneleys Park due to poor drainage.
Of the four scheduled games, only Paschendale vs. HG United went ahead and the pitch soon turned into a bog, although this didn’t prevent a cracking game won by the away side by five goals to three.
The Club Website team enjoyed the blood-and-thunder Sunday League game, whilst serving up tea and coffee for substitutes and those suffering the cold on the touchline – substitutes and spectators alike - before taking the chance to speak to the players after the game and get their thoughts on playing at Senneleys Park.
Paschendale secretary Darren Redmond, whose club have played there for three years, told Club Website: “The changing rooms are closed at the moment which is disappointing as we go back to a pub that put food on afterwards and we’re all covered in mud so it’s not ideal. We are actually paying for a facility that we can’t use.”
Before they closed, the changing rooms were not much better, according to Darren. “It was a place that you could get changed and that’s about all,” he said. “There were no facilities to keep personal items locked up and simple things that you expect like toilets are not available.”
The changing rooms at Kings Norton Park – our next port of call – offer storage for Bournville Warriors, but that’s about it. Club Website user Michael O’Rourke sent us a message having read about our plans to visit Birmingham, so we swung by to take a look.
The graffiti-covered facilities used by the club are in a shocking state and, despite them paying the council over £2,000 a season for hiring the pitches at Kings Norton Park, the changing rooms come with no electricity or running water, so they amount to little more than a pair of storage units.
To hear what Michael had to say about the facilities at Kings Norton Park – and to get a more detailed round-up of the day – check out the extended review of the trip to Birmingham in the December edition of The Club House, Club Website’s monthly newsletter.
End of season update: what’s the latest in Birmingham
There’s been no real change in the situation since Club Website rolled into Birmingham in December. Senneleys Park changing rooms remain closed, despite Birmingham City Council telling us in December that they they hoped to re-open the facilities in a matter of weeks.
The latest from the council is that the request for funds for repair work “was refused and deferred until this financial year” and so they expect the repairs “to take place before next season – so the changing rooms will be back in use for August 2010.”
Better late than never, provided the work does eventually get carried out!
As for Kings Norton Park, the pitches will be undergoing their usual summer renovation work in early May, but the City Council tell us that “there are no funds available to us at present to refurbish or upgrade the changing rooms.”
So not such good news for Michael and everyone else at Bournville Warriors. Let’s hope that the lack of funds available “at present” isn’t a permanent fixture.