Manager Alan Miller is hoping Newtongrange Star’s new state-of-the-art training pitch can help the Midlothian club change the East Region’s pecking order this season.
But he’ll be just as happy to see local workmen turning up in their vans for a kickabout on the 3G pitch after its opening this week by former Hibs striker Keith Wright along with Hearts starlets Jason Holt and Jamie Walker.
The facility, which has been made by possible by a £50,000 loan from third sector lender Social Investment Scotland, will enable Star, flying high at the top of the Super League, to train in the shadow of New Victoria Park.
“This was an old 3G surface and, to be perfectly honest, it was dangerous,” said Miller. “Players wouldn’t train here and we’d have to travel around the city trying to find training facilities.
“We’d use the likes of World of Football and Power League and we looked at the cost of that and decided it would be better to use that towards a facility like this.”
“It’s effectively a £50,000 loan that we’ve taken out and we will be paying that back on a monthly basis based on the money we are generating from the use of the pitch.”
Miller has used his own experience working for both EventScotland and Sportscotland to help the project come to fruition in tandem with North Berwick-based PMR Leisure.
“We got in touch with Social Investment Scotland and they liked the idea,” he added. “There are a lot of social objectives involved in this project. Just getting people to have a kickabout, for example.
“It’s not just about organised team sessions and it’s great to see guys turning up in their work vans, jumping out for a game of football then heading off again afterwards.”
Star headed into today’s home game against Sauchie four points clear at the top of the table. “We are way ahead of schedule,” admitted Miller of a side that has a nucleus of players in their early 20s.
“My ambition at the start of the season was to finish in the top six. But halfway through I changed that.
“I now want us to try and break into the top four, which has traditionally featured Linlithgow, Bonnyrigg, Bo’ness and Camelon.”