Like many of you, I sat at home last night thinking about what should have been and imagining what could have been but sadly we are where we are and there’s nothing more we can do about it.  In a week of frustration I wanted to try and point out some positives.  I am therefore pleased to confirm that on Monday of this week the club were informed that we had successfully received our ‘B’ ground grading, which is required to stay at this level.  In any other week this would have been monumental news that deserved the front page but this week, not so much.

We had received verbal confirmation previously, which allowed us to start the season but now it’s official and the grading will last for the next three years.  This was no small challenge as we needed to:

  • Increase the ground’s capacity from 2,400 to at least 3,000
  • Increase the number of available turnstiles to four for home fans and for non-segregated games
  • Install two turnstiles for use by away fans for segregated matches
  • Install a dedicated player’s medical room
  • Secure the boundary of the ground, including the closure of the gap behind the media hut
  • Offer improved parking facilities for match officials along with visiting officials and their squad
  • Generally improving the look and feel of the ground

Failure to meet all of the above, along with improvements to the hospitality area, clubhouse and general area immediately outside of the ground would have resulted in a grading failure that would have seen the club relegated for breach of grading requirements.

As we dealt with the challenges encountered at the end of last season we also went about meeting our grading challenges, resulting in the installation of:

  • a new 256 seat stand
  • a new six turnstile block replacing the three we had last season
  • a new two turnstile block for away fans
  • over 80 meters of four tier terracing
  • twelve more bays extending the terrace at the TinHat end of the ground, thanks to the Supporters Trust
  • a new KidsZone for younger fans
  • a dedicated player’s medical room

In addition we also:

  • Introduced increased hard standing areas, to reduce soft/grass standing areas and improve movement around the ground
  • Introduced two additional entrance/exit gates, to make access and departure from the ground faster / easier
  • Painted the metal fencing outside the ground to improve its immediate appearance
  • Re-decorated the clubhouse to make it brighter and more welcoming
  • Introduced a number of benches outside the clubhouse for use by both home and away fans
  • Introduced two large marquees, offering outside protection for those happy to brave the elements
  • Resolved the exterior lighting issues, meaning the carpark and walkways will now be lit
  • Extended our agreement with Alumasc for the use of their car park facility
  • Along with a number of smaller but equally important improvements

Most of these works were conducted whilst the new stand was being installed and therefore access to the ground had to be limited and so a small team from the board, assisted by Jez and his family was formed, supported by Sara and Chloe Graham along with a number of volunteers.    All of these efforts were rewarded when the club received official confirmation that we had successfully met all requirements and achieved the required B Grading and sees Latimer Park obtain an official capacity rating of 3,131 – the highest ever obtained at Latimer Park.

The board would like to thank everyone directly involved in achieving this goal, and for the support we received from a number of club sponsors including BM Pallets, HSS, Northants Drainage,  Plant Tool Hire and Work Force.

David Mahoney