FA can save century-old Wardle FC club nearing extinction, says chairman

The FA should do more to protect a grassroots football club in Rochdale that faces extinction after existing for more than 100 years, according to their chairman.

Wardle FC, formed in 1914, have been told they need to raise £150,000 for a new clubhouse at their Rutherford Ground to secure their future, after the current one was deemed not fit for purpose by Rochdale Council.

Chairman Rik Fielding, who took over the club in 2012, told MM that a vital part of the community would be lost if they couldn’t raise the cash.

“The football club is one of the longest serving clubs in the Rochdale area and gives hundreds of families a sense of community,” he said.

“If the FA put money into the pitches and the clubhouse then they’ve got a facility with a 99-year lease for any football team to use if we folded in the next five years.

“Why do we have to fill in forms and tick a box for somebody sat in an office instead of them coming down to grassroots football and saying ‘what do you need?’”

Fielding was handed some good news this week when the Pennine Council allocated £25k worth of funding to enable the building of portacabins that would secure their short-term future.

He is also set to meet Rochdale Council member Ashley Dearnley next week in the hope of securing further funding for long-term stability.

If the club manage to secure £150k, they will in turn unlock matched funding and secure £300k required to complete the building of a new clubhouse.

Fielding, who has worked in the prison service for nine years, explained that the survival of the club – comprising of three adult and four junior teams – was vital to prevent people going down the wrong route in life.

“I’ve seen so many people from Wardle village come into my prison,” he said.

“If I can stop one of these children going to prison then I think we’ve achieved a really good thing.

“People need this – if they have a bad day at school or work they can use football to let off some steam.

“Grassroots football is massive – it teaches teamwork, respect and discipline.”

For further information about Wardle FC, to offer use of a temporary structure or to make a donation please email [email protected] or call Fielding on 07759127135.

Main image courtesy of Wardle FC via Twitter, with thanks.

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