One of Ashfield’s oldest youth football clubs is looking for a home.
With more than 210 young footballers on its books and a history spanning 47 years, Beaufort United has been a big Ashfield sporting success story.
Yet it has never had a ground of its own.
Club chairman Duncan Moss is kicking off a campaign to tackle the one big thing he says is holding the club back.
The club, which started in 1969, has 15 teams and provides grass roots football and coaching to boys and girls of all ages.
Duncan, who has been chairman of the club for 18 months, said: “Beaufort has one of the oldest youth football teams in the area and was one of the first to gain the FA Chartered Standard, yet we have never had our own home base. Although there is so much funding available to clubs such as ours we are ruled out as we do not have the base.
“Our vision is to provide the best coaching possible and to continue to grow, this season we have 15 teams, two of which are all girls, and they are currently scattered over numerous locations and grounds all over the area.
The team’s board, which includes Nottingham Forest’s Eric Lichaj and Des Walker, has approached several local venues, so far without success.
They have submitted proposals to the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation (CISWO) - owners of the Summit Centre, Kirkby, and the Annesley Welfare ground - and Ashfield District Council regarding grounds at Acacia Avenue, Annesley, and Millers Way, Kirkby.
A petition started just this week to get the Annesley Welfare ground for the club has already attracted more than 1,000 signatures.
Mr Moss said: “On all occasions we have been knocked back, even though in many circumstances such as Millers Way, Beaufort have been the only club playing on this ground.
“I met with Donald Brookes of CISWO some three and-a-half years ago to talk about Annesley Welfare which was one of the best venues in the area some years ago, yet is now the biggest eyesore in the village.
“I said we would like to take on the grounds at the welfare and transform the overgrown rec’ back into a selection of football pitches, providing grassroot football for local boys and girls from the age of four to 16.
“We would renovate the vandalised changing rooms to provide welfare facilities for the children and the parents.
He added: “We are currently being backed by Nottingham Forest and the Nottinghamshire FA, which has selected us from over 300 clubs to assist us in our coaching development programs. Our club has a mass of volunteers who are extremely keen to help.
“If given the opportunity, I’m confident that we can restore this great site back to what the community deserves.”
A spokesman for Ashfield District Council said the authority has been reviewing outdoor assets to inform the creation of a play pitch strategy.
She said:“The council maintains all of the pitch sites in the district and currently doesn’t licence any out.
“Officers have listened to Beaufort FC to understand their requirements and have fed these comments into the play pitch strategy.
She added: “The football pitch that was previously marked out in the Acacia site is no longer in use as it is not in a suitable condition for play.
“The Miller’s Way site is currently part of the football pitch maintenance programme and some extensive work has been done and the changing room has also been assessed as part of a wider asset review.
“Officers from the council have listened to Beaufort FC to understand their needs and have taken on board their feedback to inform the future direction of the play pitch strategy and how teams can access pitch sites in Ashfield.
There are other clubs who would like to be able to lease a site of their own, however, consideration needs to be given to all teams to ensure there is adequate provision.”
CISWO had not replied to our request for a comment as The Chad went to press on Tuesday.
The team holds a group training session on Tuesday nights at The Kingsway Park at various times for different age groups between 7-9pm.
Their petition can be found at www.change.org.