Sport England turn down Liversedge appeal for help

Clayborn is regarded as the Wembley of North Kirklees but no matches have been played on the ground for 122 days, stretching back to October 31.
Clayborn is regarded as the Wembley of North Kirklees but no matches have been played on the ground for 122 days, stretching back to October 31.

Liversedge FC have been dealt a further blow in their turbulent season after a grant application to Sport England was turned down.

The club need to carry out essential drainage work on their Clayborn pitch as they have not played a home fixture since October 31.

However, Liversedge received a letter from Sport England saying their application had not been successful stating their facility has only one pitch for one sport.

The club is 104 years old and regarded by many on the local football circuit as the Wembley of North Kirklees, having staged numerous local cup finals and representative games.

Tuesday’s Northern Counties East League Premier Division game against Retford United was called off at lunchtime when the referee again deemed the Clayborn pitch unplayable — stretching their spell without a home game to an incredible 122 days.

In a heartfelt letter to the Spenborough Guardian on behalf of Liversedge, long time committee member Bob Gawthorpe, said: “Clayborn is the only pitch in North Kirklees capable of holding floodlight matches and is the venue for various cup finals.

“The venue’s future is in doubt as the pitch is out of commission and the club can only survive if games are played on a regular basis.

“One of the main reasons Sport England gave for turning down the grant application is it only involves one sport and we only have one pitch. But with a woeful lack of facilities and Liversedge being the only decent floodlit ground in the area, the pitch is overused.”

Clayborn hosted 84 games last season but less than half of those involved Liversedge matches as they staged schools finals, Sunday football matches and two popular galas for the Gomersal and Cleckheaton juniors, who are affiliated to the club.

Mr Gawthorpe added: “For years Clayborn has been the Wembley for North Kirklees and four local leagues use our ground to stage representative matches.

“Another point from Sport England says that any professional or semi-professional club needs to offer 80 per cent of use to grassroots participation. Nobody at the club gets paid and we are all volunteers and run on kindness and goodwill.

“Over the years committee men and women, along with Liversedge spectators, have dug into their own pockets to help provide a picturesque stadium.

“They did this because they believe in sport and its benefit to society and after 104 years the club still believes in this.”

Liversedge have 11 home league games remaining this season and are appealing to the local community to turn out and support their plight once their pitch is deemed playable.