National Conference League grandees West Hull last week officially opened their sumptuous £1 million headquarters at the Francis Askew Stadium.
The ground, situated in the shadow of Boothferry Park in the Gypsyville area of the city, boasts several pitches, state of the art dressing rooms and a well-appointed function room.
Former Hull and Great Britain legend Johnny Whiteley, a founder member of the club, was on hand to unveil the commemorative plaque, together with Lord Mayor Councillor John Fareham, BARLA Chairman Maurice Oldroyd and Board of Management member Spen Allison, in an event compered by League Weekly correspondent Mark Chestney.
Whiteley recalled how, when West Hull were formed, he had just returned from Australia with the Ashes. The option of playing in Great Britain colours was mooted. "We couldn’t do that, though. We believed players had to earn the right to wear a Great Britain shirt. So we went for the second best in the world, the Green & Gold of Australia!
"This is the best thing to have happened in this area since the war. West Hull will continue to play an important role in the community; everyone is here to work for that community and to build real friendships. The facility will enable people in the area to have a better life."
The complex is the culmination of years of work by a Development Committee comprising Peter Lancaster, Eddie Calcutt, John Easter and the redoubtable Alan `Cushie’ Cowan, who is still refereeing at the age of 67. The council has also been hugely supportive and long-serving committee man Terry Everson said: "We have to pay tribute to them, they are a massive help to the amateur game; we don’t even have to pay for the use of junior pitches." Chairman Ray Medd, meanwhile, added: "We’re the only club in the National Conference League with the same people in charge as when the competition was launched in 1986/87 as the National League. We stick together, us lads!"
Such as Fionna Everson and Albert Tock, with a team of other workers, ensured that the premises were in sparkling condition before and during the opening and Tock, typically, works between 40 and 50 hours a week at the club. And, to boost the onfield success of the Green & Golds’ many sides, the West Hull Angels have been formed - a 52-strong team of cheerleaders who are as heavily involved in the club as the players.
By Phil Hodgson - League Weekly