Highest FA grassroots honour for Hucknall football club

MAN AT THE HELM -- the director of football at Rolls, Jamie Brough.
MAN AT THE HELM -- the director of football at Rolls, Jamie Brough.

A progressive football club in Hucknall has been awarded one of the grassroots game’s highest honours.

FA Charter Standard Community Club status, which reflects the most advanced level of club development and football provision, has been bestowed on happy Hucknall Rolls Leisure.

In a nutshell, it means that Rolls are functioning exactly according to the FA ideal -- not only through their men’s teams but also their set-ups for youth and female football.

“It is a fantastic achievement,” beamed the club’s director football, Jamie Brough. “The FA don’t give these accolades out willy-nilly.

“There are 560 football clubs in the county, and we are the 11th to gain community status. This is the first step to bigger and better things for the club. It is no mean feat, and one the whole of Hucknall can be proud of.”

The FA Charter Standard programme aims to demonstrate that grassroots clubs have the necessary infrastructure to provide an excellent environment for football development. Community status is the highest of three levels a club can obtain.

“It shows there is a pathway here at Rolls, from the soccer school for six-and-seven-year-olds, right through to adult football,” explained Brough. “With girls, women and veterans involved, there is diversity too. The FA sees Rolls as how a club should be run.”

To qualify for community status, Brough (38), a former Hucknall Town coach, had to draw up a plan, demonstrating that Rolls was a well-run club and outlining its vision for growth. Finances, facilities, coaching qualifications, child welfare and first-aid were among the subjects covered, not just success on the pitch.

However, he is keen to ensure the credit for the award goes to stalwart volunteers who have given their time to Rolls over many years.

“My job was simply to bring all the different pieces together,” said Brough. “The really hard work has been done by the likes of John Cheetham, who runs the soccer school, Jez Corthorn and Mark Towlson, who run the senior team, and Michelle and Andy Corah, of the youth section, who have been a massive support.”

The award means Rolls will have access to FA perks such as fresh funding, expert support and discounted courses.

“It brings us a lot closer to the FA and means we are one of the clubs they will want to look after,” added Brough.

Rolls will have to undergo annual health-checks to ensure they continue to tick all the right community-status boxes.

But Brough is confident the award will go a long way towards justifying the decision by the Rolls hierarchy to convert their Hucknall site, off Watnall Road, into a centre of excellence for football -- at the expense of sports such as cricket and archery, with which the site once shared.

As well as a successful senior club, Rolls now boasts 23 junior teams, a women’s team and a veterans’ side.

“The hard part will be maintaining it and showing how we can grow and diversify further,” admitted Brough. “For instance, we need to get disabled people involved.

“However, this is massive for the town. It will stand us in such good stead and open doors in terms of funding pots and advice we can tap into.

“Our coaches and volunteers will receive any support they need, and we are looking to invest in our facilities in the coming years, including a full-sized 3G pitch, which we are already talking to the FA about.”