Golcar United is a club at the heart of its community – and that was never more evident than when it came to the construction of a new stand.
In the midst of a global pandemic the local community dug deep to help fund the £32,000 100-seater stand at the Longfield Stadium.
In a generous show of support the cost of the stand was underwritten by 100 fans who each paid £100 for a seat.
The stand was opened last November by Huddersfield Town legend Mark Lillis, a former player, coach and caretaker manager with the Terriers.
Golcar United chairman Peter Gledhill said: “One of our committee members Lee Morris invited Mark Lillis down to open the stand which was great.
“We worked with a company called Stadium Solutions and at our level we needed a seated stand as that is a compulsory element for entry into the North West Counties League.
“We were accepted into the league on the back of our ambition because at that time we didn’t have floodlights or a seated stand.
“We said that these things would be ready for the league season and what we promised we delivered putting up a stand, floodlights and toilet block.
“The stand really does look the part in green and black which, of course, are the club’s colours. The stand was completed last year before the start of this season.
“Part of the funding for the stand we had to pay 30%, the other 70% we got from the Football Foundation. We got a 100 people to sign up and buy a seat each for £100 which more or less paid our percentage, so really it was self-funded by the community.
“There is a sign at the back of the stand with everyone’s name on who pledged £100 and that stays there as a reminder of what we are all about.”
As well as the new seated stand the club is also in the process of completing a covered standing area behind the goal.
Gledhill said: “We are also in the process of building another stand at the ground before the start of the 2021-22 season, this one is a standing area behind the goal.
“We have constructed a terrace with steps. We just now need to build the metal cover to protect people from the weather. That work is scheduled to start in April so by the time the new season starts that should all be completed too.”
The ambitions are clear for all to see, the two new stands are part of a wider £300,000-plus development project.
Golcar United is split into two companies. There is the football club and a charitable arm.
Gledhill reveals that the charity has already spent £300,000 on developing the site. However, things don’t stop there as he wants the football club and charity at the heart of the Golcar community.
He said: “We still have the same aims as we did when we first set up the charity in 2019 and that’s to improve the facilities and the recreational ground.
“We have two objectives. One is for the football club and we want to play at the highest level possible. The second is to increase sport and fitness levels within the local community.
“We are only on the start of this journey where we want to improve things for not just the club but the community as a whole.
“We formed the charity in September 2019 and all together we have spent around £300,000 in providing what we have today, and we are looking to continue to improve things.
“Of the £300,000, some £200,000 has come from outside money and £100,000 has been put in by members/trustees.”
As well as the two stands being built the money has also paid for installation of floodlights, a toilet block and improvements to the clubhouse. It has created an outside leisure area with picnic tables for families to enjoy and flattened the once sloping football pitch.
There are further plans to improve the recreational public ground next to the stadium and to still maintain the junior football pitch.
On these plans Gledhill said: “I have to say the council have been very good with us and so have a lot of outside contractors. We have had a lot of support in the local community which has been fantastic.
“We also look after the junior pitch which is at the side of the ground and also the recreational land which has swings and play equipment on it. We currently have tender on that land for 30 years but we are looking to swap this to an asset transfer from the council which will give us a lease of 125 years.
“As I say the council have been very good with us and I think they are just happy someone has taken on the responsibility for looking after the land. It’s not just for dog walkers but the whole community, for children to play there or for people to go and have a quiet sit somewhere.”
Football finances are precarious in the pandemic and Gledhill spoke about the financial security of the football club. He stressed that whilst matches aren’t being played there is some pressure but overall the club is in a healthy position.
“Our average attendance for when we play is around 300 to 500 people,” he said. “The club is in a good position as we have good crowds and the bar does ok too on match days. We are a very attractive place to come and visit because the whole community has got behind us.
“In terms of sponsorship and things a lot of that hasn’t been affected because we normally start on that side of fundraising in the summer.
“We have been able to get numerous grants from the Football Foundation. They have been very good with all semi-pro clubs in creating all kinds of grants for different things to help clubs get through the pandemic.
“We are closed at the moment and, of course, that has had a detrimental effect on bringing income in. However, we do have money and we are wanting to do more as both a football club and a charity going forward.”