Sir Alex Ferguson has given his seal of approval to Altrincham’s latest ambitious initiative by officially opening their eye-catching new Community Sports Hall at the J.Davidson Stadium.
The presence of one of the most revered figures in world football was
hailed by Alty chairman Grahame Rowley as an ‘entirely fitting’ way of
launching a facility that has already attracted glowing praise since it
was completed shortly before Christmas.
Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex was shown round by Rowley before
unveiling a commemorative plaque, to declare the hall officially open, and wishing
Alty continuing success, both in the Vanarama Conference and in their
ever-expanding community endeavours.
Sir Alex Ferguson CBE, said: “This new community sports hall at
Altrincham F.C. is going to be an invaluable resource for the club and
community for years to come. It will provide opportunities for children
and adults to get involved in sport regardless of the weather. The hall
also doubles to cater for match day hospitality, which will act as a
springboard for the club to grow commercially.
“The money to make all this possible has come from the Premier League &
The FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation
and funded by the Premier League, The F.A. and the Government, through
Sport England. That is a strong and important partnership as every
footballer ultimately starts out at the grassroots.
“This sort of project is the perfect example of how the Football
Foundation is working with its Funders to provide football clubs with
facilities that get more people playing sport, support football clubs’
excellent community outreach work and create talent pathways through
which promising youngsters can progress.”
Sir Alex originally consented to do the honours last month but had to
withdraw after it transpired he would be out of the country on other
business. He kindly gave his blessing to a rearranged date of February
9 to leave Alty bosses elated at such a major coup for their hugely-
impressive, multi-purpose single-storey building.
‘We are extremely grateful to Sir Alex for his kindness and
consideration in agreeing to a new date,’ said Rowley. ‘It means a lot
to us, and it is a fantastic gesture on his part, given the demands on
his time, both at home and abroad.
‘There was much debate about who should conduct the opening ceremony,
but you simply cannot get a bigger name anywhere in football than Sir
Alex Ferguson. We couldn’t possibly have wished for anything or anyone
‘To have someone of his standing and world renown attending The J.
Davidson Stadium and opening what we believe is a very prestigious
facility in the Trafford Borough is entirely fitting. It is the perfect
culmination of so much hard work and dedication by a lot of people.
‘It was with the help of (former United chief executive) David Gill
that we managed to secure the services of Sir Alex. David was a regular
visitor when United’s Reserves used to play at our ground, and he has
occasionally come along to watch us, when his busy schedule has
permitted. We are grateful to him, as well.’
The drive to try and fund building costs estimated at around £750,000
began in earnest in October, 2013, following planning permission and
overwhelming support from local residents and councillors.
Grants from various organisations,most notably the Premier League, FA Facilities
Fund and Football Stadia Improvement Fund,were augmented by contributions from
individuals and businesses, and Alty were finally helped over the line
by a gesture from supporters that amply illustrated how the project has
been embraced by everyone connected with the club.
An appeal went out for a final £10,000, to enable the main hall to be
fitted with widescreen television screens and the latest in sound
technology. Within a matter of weeks, it was oversubscribed with
supporters pledging £100 each and sending the total beyond the £10,000
‘It was heart-warming to see that, and it really underlined how
enthusiastically the hall has been received,’ added Rowley. ‘The club
are extremely thankful to everyone who has played a part in bringing
what was an ambitious and forward-thinking idea to fruition. It is a
facility that will benefit the community as a whole and encourage
people of all ages to become active and involved in all sports, not
‘The hall will provide a real community hub. It will be a great
facility, for use throughout the week as well as on match days. It
really is something we can all feel rightly proud of.’
As an indication of the hall’s versatility, former United, Southampton,
Stoke and Alty defender Danny Higginbotham is guest speaker at a dinner
there on Friday, February 27, while it can also host a range of
activities from after-school clubs, disabled groups and ballroom
dancing to yoga, martial arts, indoor bowls and badminton.