Young footballers need new home

Chris HillA football club in Dereham is searching for a generous landowner to donate land to give its young players a home ground.Dereham Wanderers runs eight teams for almost 100 boys and girls aged up to 15, with mini-soccer training for kids as young as five.Chris Hill

A football club in Dereham is searching for a generous landowner to donate land to give its young players a home ground.

Dereham Wanderers runs eight teams for almost 100 boys and girls aged up to 15, with mini-soccer training for kids as young as five.

But the community club, formed in 1982, has never had its own ground and has to hold many of its training sessions and home games at Northgate High School's playing field, or at village grounds outside the town.

Club development officer Lindsay Vallis said the club was grateful for the use of the school field, but urged any benevolent businessmen, farmers or landowners with surplus plots to consider donating them to give the young footballers the sporting benefit of a home advantage.


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Town councillors said they supported the club's appeal, but warned it could be an uphill struggle with many vacant plots being put forward for development to meet a shortfall of housing land.

Mr Vallis said: 'Dereham Wanderers need a home, and deserve a home.

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'Ideally we are looking for a piece of land where we could put one or two full-sized pitches, a three-quarter sized pitch and a couple of mini-soccer pitches, with a separate area set aside for training. To cap it all off I would like enough room for changing facilities and the ultimate dream would be somewhere we could build a clubhouse with a function room for parties and events.

'But short term what we really need is the land. The problem would be that we are looking for a very generous landowner. Maybe we could name the clubhouse after them.'

Mr Vallis said the club was rebuilding after some of its members left last season to form a separate club in Swanton Morley. He said there was a shortage of recreational land on the Toftwood side of Dereham, and finding suitable land could be only the start of the project.

'It is not as easy as finding a piece of land, sowing some seed and then playing football on it,' he said. 'It can take two years of stone-picking before it is safe enough for kids to play football on.'

Steve May, deputy Dereham mayor and chairman of the town council's recreation committee, said he was fully behind the club's efforts, but pointed out that many vacant plots of land had been suggested as housing plots during Breckland Council's recent consultation into its Local Development Framework.

He said: 'I would like to believe there is a chance that someone has some land that this club could use, but it might be difficult at the moment. There are clearly people who want to get rid of their land, but whether they would want to give it away to a football club is a different story. But you never know - maybe there is someone out there who has played for the club in the past and they might catch them in the right frame of mind.'

Dereham Wanderers is also looking for new players, of any age or ability. For more information, or to make an offer of land, contact Lindsay Vallis 01362 690587, 07771 910560 or lindsay@derehamwanderers.co.uk

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