WEATHER worries will no longer cast a cloud over a city sports club after it secured £50,000 in Lottery funding.
Historic Ashbrooke Sports Club is among 97 sporting projects across the country to be given a share of the £5.5million from Sport England’s Protected Playing Fields’ funding pot.
The site, which first opened in 1887, is the home of Sunderland Rugby Club, Sunderland Cricket Club and also houses a gym.
But its pitches are often unplayable during periods of bad weather due to drainage problems, leaving teams and school pupils without the chance to practise and compete.
However, pitch worries could be a thing of the past, with improvements which will include the levelling out the field, the re-grading of the surface and a renewing of the ground’s drainage system set to make cancellations a thing of the past.
News of the grant comes just months after the club also scored another £50,000 grant from Sport England, with that money going towards improvements to the changing rooms.
Ashbrooke’s sporting manager, Gerard Harvey, said the cash will provide a huge boost to the club.
He said: “Drainage has been a problem for the club for well over a century.
“We could not afford to make the improvements without the help of the grant and in the future, we should be able to play all our grass sports and train without worrying about having to cancel.
“Sadly, members are all too familiar with our blackboard message – ‘Event cancelled – ground unfit’. Not anymore.
“This is our second grant from Sport England and the National Lottery this year and we will be eternally grateful for what they have enabled us to do.”
Mr Harvey also paid tribute to others who helped with the club’s bid.
He added: “The advice and encouragement I received, particularly from Sunderland City Council’s people’s directorate department and Tyne and Wear Sport, was essential to me in successfully securing this much-needed funding for our club.”
Chairman of Sport England, Nick Bitel, said: “We know how valuable playing fields are to communities throughout the country, giving individuals and teams somewhere to get active and enjoy sport.
“This fund allows us to maintain and protect these spaces so that high quality sports pitches are available in the heart of communities.”