WORK to ensure the Sumas can come home has continued – and the team can now see the light.
An ambitious project to ensure that the team’s Lowther Road home ground is well underway with the installation of working floodlights now completed, and a hard standing area with seating to be completed next week.
The Sumas will be returning to their home ground from August, following the development work and last week, supporters and players were treated to a look at work during the club’s awards night.
The climax of the evening was a short ceremony which saw the newly installed flood lights being switched on for the first time.
“It’s been a 20-year journey for the club, almost 20 years to the day since we turned the lights out at our ground in Finchampstead, we’ve now turned them back on in Wokingham once again,” said Wokingham & Emmbrook’s president Mark Ashwell.
“We got planning permission three years ago to put floodlights, a small stand and a hard standing area in which meant we had to raise £40,000 of our own money to unlock a grant of £100,000 from the FA.
“Once the grant was accepted, it’s been full steam ahead and has taken a lot of work. We’ve been everywhere and ground shared all over the place which has been horrible but we’re so pleased we’ve managed to keep the club alive and return home.
“We were hoping to get the stand the seats in place this week but the bad weather has held things up so they will now be going in next week.”
Developments are still ongoing with the 100-seater stand set to be put in place next week. This will allow the club to compete next season at step 6 in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Division One East.
The Sumas were forced to ground share with Bracknell Town last season due to Lowther Road not meeting the FA regulations for a Hellenic League stadium. However, assuming the FA is happy with the work at the ground the club should be playing their home fixtures at home next season.
“We play at step 6 in the football league and we’re now going to have most, if not all of the things that we need in place in time for kick off for the new season at the end of August,” continued Ashwell.
“If we were to be promoted up to step 5, which we’re really hoping we can do next season, then we’ll need to add a few extra bits to meet the regulations. We’ve already got planning permission for it, so we’d need to add further capacity and more undercover standing if we went up.
“We’re so enthusiastic about everything going forward for the club and I want to stress that we’ll be working with the neighbours every match to ensure there is no nuisance to them and make sure that the floodlights won’t affect them. We want to ensure that the floodlights will be turned off at the right time and the cars are off the road.
“We’re hoping we’ll get some good attendances throughout the season for the first team on a Tuesday night and also for the under 18s who will play at home on a Wednesday night.
“The last time we had an under 18s team was in the 2013/14 season and we finished second in the table and we haven’t had an allied counties team that’s played at home since 1999 so it’s exciting for the club.”
Wokingham & Emmbrook have also welcomed the arrival of Nick Bovingdon who will coach the new Allied Counties team from next season.
The Allied Counties team will compete in the midweek competition which will be the first time that the club has entered an ACYL side since 2013/14.
“Bov has a fantastic background and footballing experience, he is currently a School Director of Sport, has taught football at Reading Blue Coat and Holme Grange, coached at Crystal Palace and Reading, and has also been involved with Berkshire County Schools,” said Wokingham & Emmbrook Chairman Steve Williams.
“He also has strong links with Wokingham having played for WEFC in his youth as well as Finchampstead, Marlow and Cookham Dean as a senior.”
WEFC will be running trials for the Allied Counties squad at Montague Park 3G facility, Williams Heelas Way, Wokingham RG40 1GB from 1-3pm on Sunday, June 30.