Peter Taylor, former England Under-21 Manager, returned home to his boyhood club, Canvey Island FC, to open their new clubhouse today (Wednesday 18 January). The project was made possible thanks to a grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country.
The new facility at Park Lane, which holds up to 4,500 fans on home match days, will accommodate all of Canvey Island FC’s mens and womens teams, including 21 youth sides, and replaces their previous clubhouse which was prone to flooding. The club’s Mini Kickers side, aged three to seven, will also benefit from the new facility and so too their disability team, coached by Chairman John Batch every Saturday.
The Essex club nicknamed ‘The Gulls’, who play Step 3 football in the Isthmian League Premier Division, will use the new facility to strengthen the connection between players, staff and fans, hiring out the clubhouse to a number of local community groups. Hospitality facilities and spectator toilets have been built as part of the new development, with improvements also made to the car park and spectator turnstiles.
The project was made possible thanks to a £147,386 grant from the Premier League, through the Football Stadia Improvement Fund (FSIF), the largest funders of non-league football in the country. The grant builds on previous FSIF investment for the club in 2001, when they were awarded £33,000 to make structural improvements to their Park Lane home.
Funded with £5.2m each year from the Premier League, the FSIF is the country’s largest provider of grants towards projects that help improve the comfort and safety of lower league football grounds in both the professional and amateur game. These improvements range from new football stands and turnstiles to floodlighting and improved provision for disabled supporters.
The return home to Canvey Island FC marked a special occasion for the former Spurs midfielder Peter Taylor, who still lives locally. Alongside Billy Heale, now a club Director, he played for The Gulls from ten years old and progressed through the junior ranks to represent the first-team, who then played in the Essex Senior League. At 18, he was signed for £100 by Southend United FC, kick-starting an illustrious playing and managerial career that has spanned Europe, Asia, and Oceania.
Opening the new clubhouse, Peter said: “This new facility really is tremendous. It’s a proud moment to return to Park Lane, where it all started for me, and I’m just so glad to open the new clubhouse, which I know means so much to so many people here.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play and manage all over the world, and having had such a wonderful array of experiences through football, it really has made me appreciate just how important lower league infrastructure is. New clubhouses like these ensure people are given the opportunity to enjoy their football in safe and more comfortable surroundings.
“I’d like to thank all those involved in the project. To those from the club, many of whom I know as friends, and who have put a great deal of hard work in getting this facility open. Importantly too, I’d like to thank the Premier League, through the FSIF, who have provided the generous investment here, which will really enable the club to kick on and progress for years to come.”
Rod Hall, Director of Developments, Canvey Island FC, said: “Our vision of the football club’s community integration, driven by our Chairman John Batch, has really kick-started now, with the completion of our fantastic clubhouse. It’s absolutely great having Peter back here to open the new facility.
“This new football hub has been enabled by grants from the Premier League, through the FSIF, and Veolia, who were both great professional partners throughout the whole project.
“The Council also helped us achieve this dream, particularly so Cllr Ray Howard, while major congratulations must go to our Director, Billy Heale, for taking a lead role in the planning and delivery of the clubhouse. Also, a thanks must go to the many contractors who put up with our demands and performed excellently.”
Peter McCormick OBE, Chairman of the Football Stadia Improvement Fund, said: “I’m delighted to see Canvey Island FC open their new clubhouse. This fantastic facility will not only strengthen the club’s stadia infrastructure and reinforce ties between players and fans, but will also be used as a community asset to engage a wide range of local groups.
“Peter Taylor’s long association with the club embodies the spirit of this project, and this new facility will home mens, womens, junior and disabled sides all-year-round. The Premier League, through the FSIF, continues to invest in the grassroots game and this project is another great example.”
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