Melton FC set to return home after three-year absence

Melton Mowbray FC's new home at Melton Sports Village takes shape EMN-160323-094309002

Melton Mowbray FC's new home at Melton Sports Village takes shape EMN-160323-094309002

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Melton Mowbray FC could return to the town in just a matter of weeks as their three-year exile nears its end.

The club, who have been playing at Asfordby Acres for the last three seasons, hope to move to their new home within the borough council’s Melton Sports Village by next month.

Melton Mowbray 5-1 Cottesmore Amateurs EMN-151229-121306002

Melton Mowbray 5-1 Cottesmore Amateurs EMN-151229-121306002

A 100-seater stand is due to be installed early next week at the Burton Road site ahead of a ground inspection by East Midlands Counties League (EMCL) officers on Monday, April 4.

The following home fixture for promotion-chasing Melton would be their penultimate home match of the season against Allexton and New Parks on Saturday, April 16.

Manager Matt Curtis said: “We are very excited; it can’t come soon enough. The players have waited three years and it’s been hard keeping them all together.

“The new pitch looks immaculate. The lads want to play on better pitches and have a determination to play at a higher level.

Melton Mowbray joint-managers Cliff Thornton (left) and Matt Curtis EMN-160323-130512002

Melton Mowbray joint-managers Cliff Thornton (left) and Matt Curtis EMN-160323-130512002

“We just want to get up there now and hope the town will get behind us.”

It will be the end of a long and difficult journey for joint-managers Curtis and Cliff Thornton.

They were close to walking away at the end of last season with chairman Sam Ellis after the club missed out on promotion for the second successive year because of a failed ground inspection.

But they stayed loyal and successfully persuaded their core players to refuse offers to move to higher level clubs.

The move away from Asfordby could give the team a decisive lift as they enter a crucial phase of the season.

Melton’s ambitions of moving up a level on the non-league ladder to the EMCL are likely to hinge on finishing above title rivals Birstall United, if both clubs pass their ground inspections.

Mowbray sit third with two games in hand and seven points adrift of second-placed United, but Curtis still believe the title is their rivals’ to lose.

“Birstall have got an easier run-in than us,” he said.

“We have got Blaby twice and Sileby away and we don’t have a good recent record against either.

“We had a bit of a wobble after Christmas. I think the team is more competitive now and some people were finding it difficult to accept they may have to go on the bench.

“But we have ironed out those problems and have a very good 18 players in a competitive squad.

“We have got the mentality that we won’t lose another game and everyone is fighting for one another and for the shirt.”

The move was initially delayed while Melton Council waited to secure the land on the former King Edward VII School site from the county council.

As well as fitting the obligatory changing rooms, dug-outs, perimeter fencing, hard-standing, toilets and turnstile, contractors also found tunnels under the pitch which had to be filled in before it could be levelled and re-seeded.

A new temporary road also had to be laid to allow machinery to access the site.

If all goes according to plan, the long-awaited new pitch and facilities will only be a temporary home for Melton.

Work on a new purpose-built stadium on the Burton Road site is expected to begin soon after, subject to approval.

The Leisure Vision, or business case, for Melton Sports Village goes before Melton Council’s planning committee for final approval next Wednesday (March 30) from 6.30pm.

It is hoped the 400-seater stadium, to be shared with co-hosts Melton Rugby Club, would be finished by 2018.

Plans include a 3G artificial grass pitch and the potential to increase seating capacity in the future to 1,000.