Plans for a £200,000 rebuild at Salvesen Football Club as former Scotland players back local Edinburgh project
The alumni roll at Salvesen Football Club includes Scotland internationalists like Lee Wallace, Gary Mackay, Dave Bowman and Garry O’Connor. Problem is, there’s nowhere to display that illustrious list.
Lack of facilities has contributed to the local Edinburgh club dwindling in recent years since their former base was demolished to make way for Forrester High School and St Augustine High School’s shared campus.
After more than a decade of decline, Salvesen have launched a rejuvenation project to restore them as one of the Capital’s top footballing factories. That roll of honour should hopefully have a new clubhouse wall to call its own soon.
Mackay, Bowman and a number of others are helping drive a £200,000 scheme which will provide a community centre, changing rooms, medical facilities and a 3G astroturf under the Salvesen FC banner.
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Club officials need to raise £80,000 to cover their share of the costs and will hold a sportsman’s dinner later this November. Extra fundraising is planned with the objective of bringing the halcyon days back to Salvesen – days when their grassroots Broomhouse teams produced youngsters who became senior internationalists.
“When they took the changing rooms away, that kind of killed the club a bit,” admitted Graham Buckley, the club president. “It went right in decline and they have been struggling. We are now starting to rebuild it. The idea is to get Salvesen back at the top table where they should be.
“I’ve enlisted a few former players to come back and help. They couldn’t believe the state of the club. They thought it was just ticking along all right. We’ve restructured the whole club and we want to get it back to the top level. However, we need a home.”
Boys and girls teams, a women’s side and their own under-20 outfit would be based at the new Salvesen Community Hub. Images have been drawn, Forrester and St Augustine are on board, and three fifths of the funding is already in place. It seems there are a number of local experts willing and able to breathe new life into the club.
Mackay has joined Salvesen’s board of trustees to engage with an Edinburgh institution that remains close to his heart. The plans will be put to Edinburgh Council in time and the influence of school officials as well as local funding partners should carry a certain amount of sway.
“We have spoken to the Council and we have Craig Campbell, the former Falkirk chief executive, helping as well because he works in sport and social enterprise. He knows the processes the club needs to go through to get funding,” explained Buckley.
“It’s fantastic Gary Mackay is coming on board as one of our trustees. Alex Cole-Hamilton, the MSP, has also been very helpful. Graham Angus and his McDonald’s franchise sponsored our presentation award ceremony last month. He is one of our original partners having been involved for a number of years.
“Social Bite Village are helping advise us on how to get funding to achieve what we want, so there are quite a few professional people. Gill Hendry is one of the Social Bite project managers and she is on board with us. Her company build facilities with eco-friendly materials. They have put a small plan together for us, basically a drawing of how our building would look.”
An existing astroturf facility at the Forrester and St Augustine campus would be upgraded to 3G grade and become Salvesen’s own home. Their clubhouse would also be constructed alongside it, offering space, resources and equipment for every one of their age-group sides.
School children and local kids in the Broomhouse area would also benefit from the regeneration. “There is a spare bit of land beside the current astroturf pitch which we would upgrade and we are looking to put our building there,” said Buckley.
“The bottom floor would be changing rooms for male and female, a physio room, a doctor’s room and a referee’s room. Upstairs would be the community centre which would be open each night to try and get local kids off the streets. That can be a problem in Broomhouse.
“We are in the process of putting a business plan together which we hope can then be approved by the local council. It should help having the school behind us.
“The school’s PPP [Public-Private Partnership] have agreed to put £120,000 in. That was due to be spent on re-turfing the pitch in any case, so that leaves us to find £80,000 to get the project going.”
Raising standards at any level of Scottish football can be no bad thing. Buckley and his associates intend to bring Salvesen into line with Scottish Football Association requirements and create a pathway for their young players.
“We want to extend the pitch area, widen it, put in a spectator rail, a small area of terracing and dugouts,” he added. “Then you would have the changing rooms within the new building. That would fit the Scottish FA criteria for Salvesen to have an under-20 side and a women’s team.
“That would allow our club to generate money every year through lets for the astroturf. When we go for funding, that will hopefully be a massive help – plus the school get to use the facilities during the day.
“Kids who are maybe struggling in school academically could use this to learn at their own pace. We feel we are ticking quite a few boxes.”
Salvesen FC’s Sportsman’s Dinner is due to take place on Sunday, November 6, at Bainfield Bowling Club in the Gorgie area of Edinburgh between 11am and 5pm. Visit the club website's contacts page for ticket details: www.salvesencommunityfootballclub.co.uk