'Fill the pitch' protest planned over bid to move Hucknall Sports Football Club from home ground

A ‘fill the pitch’ public protest is being organised as a show of feeling over a controversial decision to stop Hucknall Sports Junior Football Club using their long-standing home pitches.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 4:07 pm
The land off Kenbrook Road where Hucknall Sports play

The Dispatch broke news last week of what some are calling an ‘eviction’ from the club’s current pitches on Papplewick Green Playing Fields off Kenbrook Road in the town.

Ashfield District Council which owns the land, has taken the stance as it looks to arrange a short-term management agreement with the locally-based community interest company, a non-profit organisation – Sports Gateway – which is currently based at the Rolls-Royce Leisure site in Hucknall.

Sports Gateway recently submitted a planning application, which has now been paused, to build a 3G pitch and associated storage on the site.

Local representative, Jamie Brough, explained the facility was for the whole community and has expressed a desire to work with locals.

But the scheme drew a swathe of objection from local residents – and now many are angry with the latest decision by the council.

So much so that some have been moved to organise the protest, which is scheduled for 3pm on Sunday (July 18).

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Hucknall Sports junior football club 'evicted' from their home in pitches contro...

One of those involved is Richard Darrington, the well-known owner of the town’s Byron’s Rest and chief at the former Empire Club.

"Whether this is too late or not I don’t know,” said Richard who, as an eight-year-old, played at Sports’ famed soccer school.

“My lads have played for Hucknall Sports. Children’s football is vital for the stability of children, without that in their lives it’s a void that could be taken by other things that are not good.

"I can’t blame a business seeing an opportunity. I think the issue is with the council. This is different, when you start involving children’s football it is personal.

"This would mean one less green space and I believe there are plenty of alternative sites.”

Hucknall Sports has been running for more than 44 years and has worked with thousands of local children. A registered charity, teams previously played at the Wigwam Lane Playing Fields which were controversially sold off for housing despite a covenant protecting them for open space recreation.

The pitches and changing rooms off Kenbrook Road were built as a condition of planning permission for the housing.

The Dispatch has made contact with parties involved in this dispute for further comment.

But anyone who does attend the protest is asked to respect the pitches, the site in general and neighbours.