Sunderland West End express their frustration as home ground return delayed
Sunderland West End manager Darren Liddle has revealed his frustration over delays to the club’s proposed return to their Ford Quarry home.
The Northern League Division Two club have spent the last two seasons playing at Nissan Sports Complex in Washington as they awaited the completion of a new football hub at their former home.
There were plans for West End to end last season at their newly-built venue – but the coronavirus epidemic curtailed the Northern League campaign and dashed their hopes of making their historic return.
With the epidemic continuing to delay the start of the new season, it remains unclear when West End can invite supporters into their new home – but Liddle is keen to laying down routes in the community once the all-clear is given.
He told The Echo: “It’s just frustrating because it’s been delayed again and it’s starting to feel like it will never happen.
“Hopefully it will be a case of getting back soon and making sure we can get supporters in to watch the games too.
“It was a nightmare at Nissan because it’s never been an easy place to get to.
“But now, most supporters can walk down the bank to our home ground, and they have a facility on their doorstep.
“A lot of clubs in the league have a place in their community but we have been different.
“Now we can do that, and we have men’s, women’s and junior teams in our club so we can build a spirit and become part of the community.
“That’s why we are so keen to get started and return to Ford Quarry.”
On-field preparations for the new season are already well underway for Liddle and his players.
They kicked off a hectic pre-season friendly schedule with a 4-0 defeat at Division One promotion contenders Shildon last weekend and following that up with a narrow 2-1 loss at Seaham Red Star on Saturday.
Liddle has strengthened his squad with former Billingham Town winger Matty Hughes and Hebburn Town Reserves defender Max Nelson.
But the West End boss is keen to add to his attacking options as he looks to improve on last season’s record of scoring just 38 goals in 29 games.
“We didn’t really have too bad a side last season – although we did struggle to score goals,” he admitted.
“We haven’t fixed that yet, but we will do that by bringing in strikers over the next couple of weeks.
“If we can get those strikers in, they can make the difference and that is what we need.
“A lot of games we lost by one goal last season, so hopefully if they come in, we can push for the top eight or top six.”
West End have also confirmed that Steve Cook has joined Liddle’s management team ahead of Saturday’s pre-season friendly against former Wearside League rivals Silksworth CW at Downhill Football Hub.