CRAY’S WAY IS FOR­WARD

Wands fi­nally get green light

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - David Richard­son runs through the sto­ries which hit the head­lines over the last seven days

IT WAS the phone call Cray Wan­der­ers and chair­man Gary Hill­man had been hop­ing to re­ceive for al­most 14 years.

The Bostik League South East club fi­nally had the news de­liv­ered on Mon­day that their ap­pli­ca­tion to build a new com­mu­nity hub and sta­dium, which will give Cray their own ground for the first time since 1973, had been ap­proved by Mayor of Lon­don, Sadiq Kahn.

On their third at­tempt at get­ting the scheme over the line, Lon­don’s old­est foot­ball club will be com­ing home.

“I was try­ing to keep my­self busy all day,” Hill­man, the driv­ing force be­hind the ap­pli­ca­tion, ex­plained to The NLP.

“And then I got the call at about four. It was my grand­daugh­ter’s third birth­day party in the evening so I was en­joy­ing a drink, I’m com­ing through the re­cov­ery pe­riod now!

“To fi­nally get the ap­proval from the Mayor is a very big step for the club. I’ve had a lot of mes­sages from the com­mu­nity and from people in foot­ball.

“It’s been a long time talk­ing about it, a lot of people have heard it all be­fore about other schemes around the coun­try, about what people are go­ing to do, in the foot­ball world it be­comes quite leg­endary.

“I’ve al­ways said common sense would prevail, it has. We got caught up in a bit of a po­lit­i­cal is­sue be­tween the Con­ser­va­tives and Labour, and Brom­ley isn’t the most sport­ing bor­oughs of Lon­don.

“It was un­for­tu­nate but in hind­sight it’s the best thing that has hap­pened be­cause each scheme has got pro­gres­sively better. It’s been a bit of a bless­ing in dis­guise although I wouldn’t have said that along the line. There’s board mem­bers who have put in just as much ef­fort as I have, the sup­port­ers have been su­perb, com­mit­tee mem­bers who have been with the club for 45-50 years. “It’s about get­ting the club on the right struc­ture and be­ing self-suf­fi­cient for­ever. We’re very chuffed.” Cray signed a con­di­tional con­tract in 2014 to pur­chase Flamingo Park Sports Cen­tre in St Paul’s Cray, but the club suf­fered a set­back when the Mayor blocked plans two years later to pro­tect green­belt land. The new sta­dium will have a ca­pac­ity of 1,300 cou­pled with three ad­di­tional 11 a-side pitches, a seven-a-side pitch and two five a-side pitches, which will be used by the club’s many ju­nior sides along with pur­pose-built com­mu­nity fa­cil­i­ties and 42 new af­ford­able hous­ing units. The project is hoped to be com­pleted by the 2021-22 sea­son with work ex­pected to start in April or May next year once the re­main­ing pa­per­work has been signed off.

“I’VE AL­WAYS SAID THAT COMMON SENSE WOULD PREVAIL, NOW IT HAS AND WE’RE VERY CHUFFED” – Gary Hill­man

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