Football pavilion dream comes true after 12 years fundraising by Ribchester Rovers

For years it was just a dream but now a village football club is celebrating after the VIP opening of its new pavilion.

Kevin Gallacher, ex Blackburn Rovers Premiership player and former Scotland international, was the guest of honour as Ribchester Rovers Football Club opened its brand new sports pavilion at the weekend.

It had taken 12 years for the long established Ribble Valley club to raise sufficient funding to replace its decades old former hut.

Vice Chairman John Treacy said: "It's one of the long standing football clubs in Lancashire. There was a Ribchester Rovers in 1884. That's recorded for when it was an established team, it could have been earlier than that. We've been fundraising since 2009. The pavilion had probably been there for 70 years and it was second hand. It was probably 100 years old. "

Former Scotland International and Blackburn Rovers star Kevin Gallacher officially opened the pavilion. He is pictured with Ribchester Rovers' committee members including John Treacy, third from left. Committee member Paul Dewhurst was not able to attend the opening.

He said because of the club's comparatively small size and location it had not fitted the criteria for many grants as it is not sited in what is classified as an area of deprivation, so it meant a long locally driven fundraising campaign had to be sustained. He said: "We understand that there were local areas in greater need for larger facilitites."

Support from the village, local businesses and determination enabled them to finally achieve their goal. The club raised £38,000 and John predicted the cost of the new pavilion would have been double that had not local businesses stepped up to carry out the building, electrical, excavation and plumbing work free of charge and provide use of their equipment. Two other local companies provided cushions for seating and the plumbing seals.The new timber changing pavilion is sited next to the village's tennis club pavilion and has home and away changing rooms, a referees' room, disabled access and a verandah.

John said: "It's just been a massive effort by everyone, including our sponsors who have always supported us."

He also paid tribute to past sponsors.

As a thank you for their support club sponsors were presented with framed Ribchester Rovers football shirts

John particularly thanked the Ribchester Playing Field Trust, the ;local Church Street fund and the Harris Trust for donations, Cathy Martin and the Dewhurst family for their longstanding support of the club, Jimmy Tyrrell and the many local businesses and supporters who had helped make the project happen, including James Flitcroft who had stepped in and "drove the project ...and said we're doing it".

The club hit hard times in 2003/4 when there were no teams. But the juniors section was re-established and the club has gone from strength to strength. John said: "Five years ago we had about five teams. Now we've got 22 age groups including adult male, adult ladies, veterans and 15/16 youth football teams. It's been a great success and we're really proud of the club. It's a testament to the village."

In addition there are development squads for youngsters and the expanding club has recently extended its number of pitches.

The celebrations included a dads v mums parents' match (score 5-3) and a Ribchester Reserves match against AFC Lytham (score 3-3) followed by refreshments at Ribchester Sports and Social Club and evening entertainment with a disco and hot pot supper.

Club members and supporters gathered to celebrate the opening of the new Ribchester Rovers pavilion

Club secretary Tracy Ormisher said: "This is a very proud day for Ribcehster Rovers Football Club after many years of fundraising."

The club certainly inspires loyalty. Current club President Roger Dolphin joined the club at 16 and was a committee member and secretary for more than 20 years, while Chairman Chris Byrne, 35, joined as a player when he was 15.

Over the years fundraising events had included the Rock on the Rec music festival, race nights , sponsored walks and Chris Byrne ran a half marathon for the club.

All the club's current sponsors were presented with a framed football shirt at the opening as a thank you for their support.

Inside the new Ribchester Rovers football pavilion

Jonh said fundraising continues to help meet the costs of grounds and pavilion maintenance, insurance etc.

* The Club has also been recognised this year by the Lancashire Football Association for the work it has done to help the community during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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