Work begins on Melton Mowbray FC’s new home

Looking to the future are, from left, Melton Council leader Byron Rhodes, Melton Mowbray FC chairman Sam Ellis, Melton Council deputy leader Pam Posnett, Melton Rugby Club president Rob Goldthorpe and Melton Hockey Club player and secretary Alastair McQuillan
Looking to the future are, from left, Melton Council leader Byron Rhodes, Melton Mowbray FC chairman Sam Ellis, Melton Council deputy leader Pam Posnett, Melton Rugby Club president Rob Goldthorpe and Melton Hockey Club player and secretary Alastair McQuillan
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Melton Mowbray FC will play their first match at their new Burton Road home by October after work began to bring facilities up to scratch.

The news finally brought to an end the long-running saga which had at one point threatened the club’s existence.

The club is due to play at the site on a temporary basis ahead of a move into Melton Council’s proposed new stadium to be built elsewhere within the former King Edward VII School grounds.

Under proposals the footballers would share the stadium, part of plans for a multi-million pound sports village, with Melton Rugby Club which is already based at Burton Road along with Melton Hockey Club.

The footballers have been allocated a clubhouse and will use the rugby club bar on matchdays.

Joint manager Matt Curtis has campaigned hard in recent seasons, alongside chairman Sam Ellis, to secure the move.

Curtis said: “Everything is moving and the council have given us a date of October 1 which I’m more than happy with.

“We have asked the league if we can play our first games away until work is finished, but we could play at Saxby Road in the meantime if necessary.

“We are just glad of the opportunity to play up there and to have the backing of the council.

“It is a relief, but I always want things to happen now!”

Melton Council are providing £90,000 to create temporary changing rooms, pitch improvements, goals, pitch railings, dugouts and a standing area.

Money has also been set aside within that sum for floodlighting and seating if the club wins promotion to the East Midlands Counties League next season. The club would also be expected to fundraise.

The council are organising soccer camps at the site headed by former Leicester City stars Muzzy Izzet and Steve Walsh who have also agreed to take a pre-season training session for Melton.

Ronan Browne, people and places manager at Melton Council, said: “We are using a One Melton theme to show everyone is working together and supporting each other.

“The main building is in the process of having maintenance carried out, painted and the room which Melton Mowbray FC will use is being decorated in their club colours.”

Melton FC have missed out on promotion for the last two seasons, despite finishing runners-up in the Leics Senior League Premier, because of failed ground inspections.

Curtis and joint-manager Cliff Thornton feared last season’s near-miss would lead to an exodus of key players, several of whom returned to Melton from higher league football to get their hometown club promoted.

The pair even considered quitting themselves, but are relieved that the squad has stayed together.

Talented defender Leon Fray looks set for a move two levels higher to reigning EMCL champions Bardon Hill, and Ash Palfreyman is undecided, but the rest of the squad look set to start another season here.

He added: “Adam Bishop and Tom Cooper have been key for us in trying to keep the squad together and have both refused offers from higher league teams.

“We are all geared up and I think we can improve. I think we still need a couple of old heads for the reserves and there are a potential few new signings for the first team.”

The club is also re-launching a reserves side next season built around Jason Hall’s Melton Foxes side who played their final year of junior football last season.

The first team are in action at Asfordby Acres tonight (Thursday – kick-off 7.15pm) against United Counties League side Harrowby United, and on Saturday both teams travel to Birstall United to officially open their new ground.