We Will Rebuild
We used that strap-line (We Will Rebuild) 5 years ago on our 2007 Dinner Programme after we (Wallsend Boys’ Club) had been granted the funding to develop our own pitches and changing rooms at Bigges Main.
The Club thought that this line from Jimmy Nail’s song, ‘Big River’, was a statement of defiance to set against the continuing economic decline of Wallsend as a town after the loss of its Shipbuilding and Coal Mining industries in previous years. We believed there were still so many positives to come out of our area that the achievement of developing this new site would act as a beacon for the younger generations to feel they were playing football at facilities that they could be proud of, and certainly deserved, after so many quality players had gone through the Club before them.
That statement has now become a reality for our representative teams, but sadly on January 5th this year one of the walls of our original premises at Station Road collapsed, forcing the Trustees to condemn the building as unsafe. This building had been the Club’s base since 1965 and was used by tens of thousands of Tyneside youngsters for over 46 years. Many have great memories of playing in the 5-a-side leagues, or attending discos, or simply coming along to meet their mates – a proper, traditional Youth Club.
Whilst the team football has continued largely un-interrupted, the crucial, fundamental Youth Club elements have had to be scaled back since the Station Road premises were demolished at the end of February. Also, without this base and the income we used to generate from hiring out the 5-a-side pitch, we have unfortunately had to make most of our staff redundant this year.
So the Club is now again committed to that strap-line, “We will Rebuild”, but this time it is to ensure that we can ensure that future generations can share great memories and enjoy a Youth Club facility in Wallsend the way that previous generations have done for decades.
The cost of building a new Youth Club and 5-a-side pitches at Bigges Main has been estimated to cost over £1 million. Last Friday, we concluded our negotiations with North Tyneside Council and sold back the outstanding Lease at Station Road for £250,000, so now we have our deposit on the new home. However, there is still over £750,000 to find and we are under no illusions as to how difficult that will be to raise in the current economic environment.
However, the Trustees are committed to rebuilding the Youth Club as our young people deserve it and, sadly, they need it! The simple fact of life is there are not enough places for our young people to go. There are numerous venues and locations on Tyneside that they could go to, but very few they want to go to and that is the crucial difference. Since Station Road was demolished we know there are lots of our young people who feel there is a vacuum in their lives and have unfortunately drifted into anti-social behaviour.
We want to ensure they have a place they want to go to and whether they are interested in football or not, we want them to feel safe, respected, valued and encouraged. If they happen to turn into the next Shearer, Beardsley, Carrick, etc then that is a wonderful bonus for the Club – just as it has always been.
The football-mad community of Tyneside has always been kind to Wallsend Boys’ Club, mainly because of the local lads who have gone on to grace the beautiful game. If people still believe in what we do, we need the community to get behind us like never before as it will be a massive task to rebuild this Youth Club.
Over the last 9 months, if we’d had a £ for everybody who has suggested our high profile ex-players should provide these funds we could have rebuilt the Club three times over. However, it is never that simple. We are all capable of telling other people how we would spend their money if we had it, but we rarely get put into a position where we are put to that test ourselves.
We have never relied upon financial support from the professional game, whether that be our own ex-players, or Newcastle United. However, many of our ex-players have been kind enough to attend our Dinners and other events in past years and this has helped us raise the funds that contributed to the new pitches and changing rooms at Bigges Main, so we are immensely grateful for this support.
These same ex-players will also help us to raise the money we need to rebuild the Youth Club and this is where we would like the opinion of Mag readers in how we can get the ex-players involved in events you would be happy to pay to attend? Would you be interested in a Testimonial match featuring these players? If so, who should we consider for the opposition – ex-players from other local Boys’ Clubs? What about a Tournament where your team is managed by one of our ex-players?
We would love to get your feedback as we definitely do not have a monopoly on good fund-raising ideas? A big Thank You again to Mark and his team at the Mag for giving us the opportunity to keep you up to date with what is happening at Wallsend Boys’ Club.
Steve Dale – Chairman of Wallsend Boys’ Club
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