The former Soccer City football and party venue is to re-open under a new operator “within weeks” after being closed for 18 months.
Soccer City on the Tandem Industrial Estate at Waterloo announced in August last year it wouldn’t re-open after the enforced Covid-19 lockdown.
Soccer City signed off on Facebook saying: “We want to say a huge thank you to all teams and players who have graced our pitches, those with silky skills and those without skills at all! It has been a blast.
“We have loved every minute of it and so enjoyed our place in the local community. We will miss the shrill of the whistle, the euphoric goal celebrations and the constant sound of fun and laughter. Keep on dreaming.”
Now, it has been revealed, the dream is alive again and the first whistle could be sounded in a few weeks’ time.
A spokesman for the agent of landlord Diamond Business Parks said a lease was close to being signed off and an opening could be four to six weeks away.
Work has started to clear out the premises inside as these pictures by local councillor Bernard McGuin show.
When lawyers started working on a new lease it was found that the premises had never had planning permission to operate as a soccer venue – despite being run by successive operators over more than 20 years.
Kirklees Council has now granted a certificate of lawfulness which will allow the venue to open again.
News that the venue is coming back has been welcomed by local footballers including Jason Batley who, at one point, ran four teams out of there – including the “Multiple Scorgasms.”
Jason recalled: “I started playing at Soccer City in 2009. I had played in other leagues before but didn’t really enjoy them because a lot of the teams just turned up for a scrap, especially at Dewsbury.
“This hardly ever happened at Soccer City and even though it was fiercely competitive with plenty of heavy challenges and physicality it was rare that it turned nasty – most of the refs were excellent especially the one who always did pitch 1, Dale Longley.
“My first impressions of it was that the standard of the leagues was very good especially the Thursday night league which was dominated by two exceptional teams Helion and Bramble.
“They were in the Premier and as a new team we started in the 4th Division. We had a decent set of players and I had asked if we could start in a higher division but I am glad we didn’t – we got hammered every single game for weeks!
“Eventually over the next few years we rose up the divisions all the way to the mighty Premier Division. There were regularly players playing who had been pro or currently were pro and even a Huddersfield Town player played fairly often.
“We were even lucky enough to have a Barnsley player play with our team a few times. The venue itself was exceptionally well run back then by a great team of staff who also played in the leagues.
“It was a great social event too because everyone knew each other and often had beers together in the bar afterwards.
“By this time I was running four teams and playing there three or four times a week. Our team the ‘Multiple Scorgasms’ was the first team to enter two different divisions on the same night so basically we played two draining games of 5-a-side back-to-back.
“Over the next few seasons several other teams started doing this and it’s hard to describe the level of fitness this takes.
“The health and general well-being, both physically and mentally, of many, many players benefited massively from Soccer City.
“When Soccer City closed its doors it left lots of players devastated. It is what they had done regularly for years, sometimes rushing straight from work through the rush hour traffic to make the early kick-offs, and afterwards the slow relaxing drive home looking forward to the next game.
“Soccer City was more than a football venue. For many players it was their second home – full of friends and banter, and for some it was their church, somewhere they’d turn up to religiously – the number one priority in their life. We cannot wait for it to reopen.”
Got any memories and old pictures from Soccer City back in the day? E-mail email@example.com