THE adverse weather over the last two winters has highlighted a problem facing local football teams which have struggled to find suitable training facilities.
Whilst clubs in Kirriemuir, Arbroath, Brechin, Carnoustie and Montrose all have access to all-weather pitches in their home town, members of Lochside Boys Football Club and Forfar Boys Football Club have had to travel out of town to keep up with their training schedules.
They are now appealing to Angus Council to provide a fairer “playing field” in Forfar by providing an all-weather facility in the town.
At present there are all-weather council owned synthetic pitches at Webster’s High School, Kirriemuir; Arbroath High School/Sports Centre; Pitskelly (Carnoustie) and Brechin leisure centre.
There also all-weather pitches at Condor, Arbroath and at Montrose Links Park which can be used by the community.
Joseph Mitchell, Chairman of Forfar Boys Football Club, told the “Dispatch and Herald” the club has written to the four Forfar members seeking a meeting to discuss the proposals.
He said: “We are in the process of writing to all Forfar councillors seeking a meeting with them to see if there is anything they can do to expedite an all-weather pitch for Forfar.
“Brechin and Kirriemuir have one and those in Montrose can use the pitch at Links Park - Forfar seems to be the poor relation in terms of all-weather provision.”
Forfar Boys Football Club currently has nine teams - for under eights through to under 16s - with the younger boys training indoors during the winter.
He continued: “The eleven a-side teams travel to Kirrie, to Soccer World (in Dundee) and to the Saltire Leisure Centre in Arbroath to train but it’s not easy getting bookings. Kirrie is block booked a lot of the time and we have got parents running here, there and everywhere with the cost of petrol and time.
“We have about 165 boys either playing or training but indoor training facilities for all weather is in such short supply in Angus. It’s not just Forfar teams chasing them but teams from other towns.”
Whilst acknowledging a recent £5,000 grant from Angus Council, which has been used to purchase floodlights, Mr Mitchell added: “Floodlights are all well and good but if there is snow on the ground you can’t use them.
“We have written to the local councillors to put a bit of pressure on for an all-weather training facility in Forfar.
“We have pointed out that, for the last two winters, we have struggled to get training facilities and are requesting a meeting with them to try to find a common way forward.”
Lochside Boys Football Club has also backed calls for an all-weather facility in the town.
Allan Mathieson, vice-chairman of the club and until recently the manager of the under-19s team, said the club felt quite strongly about the need for such a facility.
He said: “It has been brought up in our meetings and we always felt there should be some pulling together for an all-weather facility.”
He spoke of the problem the club had in finding suitable training facilities, particularly during the winter months, with the need for floodlights and generators.
Teams have hired the rugby pitch to train and teams also train at the side of Whitehills Park, whilst they also make regular trips to Arbroath and Kirriemuir.
He added: “The problem is we can’t get inside and we can’t get outside as they are all fully booked. Within our club there is a strong feeling that Forfar needs an all-weather pitch.
“We recently got funding for road lights but the problem is moving them and if the grass is soggy, then you can’t train on it.
“Scottish football is banging on about improving young people in sport in general and they are spending a lot of money on SFA coaches, paying full time wages. But at the end of the day, if we don’t have proper facilities for the coaches to coach on, then we are goosed!”
Angus Councillor Colin Brown, who is chairman of Forfar Farmington Football Club and vice-convener of the council’s neighbourhood services, sympathised with the plight of the clubs.
As vice-convener he said: “Local councillors are aware of the need for an all-weather pitch in Forfar and it is high on the list of priorities for leisure facilities in the town.
“As chairman of Forfar Farmington Football Club, I can relate to and am sympathetic to the problems experienced when it comes to training.
“Although we have a facility at the Market Muir we are dependant on the weather as well. Over the last ten weeks it has been unplayable.”
He added members of the club, which runs 11 teams for girls and boys, has made the same journey to Kirriemuir and DISC in Dundee for training.
He added: “Although we have a floodlight facility it is no use if ground conditions do not allow you to play on it.”