Move on cards for Harwood?
“We have looked at other sites” - chairman
Great Harwood Town may have to move away from the Showground if they are to fulfil their ambition of progressing to a higher grade of football, club chairman Tom Edwardson has claimed.
And Harwood-who just months ago were on the brink of quitting the Showground and North West counties football until Mr. Edwardson and a group of fellow businessmen came in with a cash rescue-have already looked at possible venues for a new ground.
Mr. Edwardson said he had expressed an interest in buying just the football section of the Cloggers complex where Harwood Town are based, and which is being offered for sale by its current owners Marda Squash.
If such a deal were to go ahead, Mr. Edwardson said the football club would like to build their own clubhouse probably on the Lyndon House side of the ground where the stand is currently situated. But if it were not possible to just buy the soccer facilities, he said a move to a new site may well be on the cards and possible alternatives have already been looked at.
“We are very ambitious, but to be able to compete in the top competitions and think about moving to a higher league, we need a full length pitch,” he said.
Managing director of Marda Squash, Tony Gornall, said he was completely open minded on the subject.
“We have been in negotiations with Tom Edwardson for some four months regarding the purchase of the Cloggers facilities and it was only a week ago that he phoned me to say he was interested in just the football side of things,” said Mr. Gornall.
“We are considering this proposal very seriously but after four months of long and detailed negotiations, it is a little difficult to commit ourselves to this idea yet. Tom seems to be asking for a firm commitment at very short notice and we can’t really give it. The site as a whole is up for sale but his proposal is to buy just the football facilities is certainly being considered very carefully.”
Mr. Gornall said he sympathised with Mr. Edwardson and the football club on the question of the shortness of the pitch.
“Of course Mr. Edwardson doesn’t want to pay for the pitch to be extended before he ahs the security of the tenure, but we hope it is possible to offer him the security of tenure in the near future. I would certainly want to see football continue at its present level on the Showground site and I’m sure any new buyers of the Cloggers complex would as well.
Shortly after the end of last season, Harwood Town threatened to quit the Showground and the N.W.C.L. because they found it increasingly difficult to meet the costs of playing on that ground and that standard of football. They suggested they might opt for East Lancashire League soccer-their reserve side plays in that league-and switch their base to the neighbouring Lyndon House pitch, which is believed to be earmarked for housing development sometime in the future, so it is ruled out as a permanent base.
But a group of businessmen led by Mr. Edwardson stepped in to help Town retain their North West Counties status and remain on the Showground, which was the home of the now defunct Great Harwood F.C. who played in the Northern Premier League until they went into liquidation in 1978.
The site was then bought by Marda Squash and the Cloggers complex was built, with Greta Harwood Wellington F.C. leasing the football pitch there, changing their name to Great Harwood Town and playing in the Blackburn Combination until the formation of the N.W.C.L. in 1982.
This season, after two terms of struggling to avoid relegation to the N.W.C.L. 3rd Division, Harwood are well up with the promotion contenders after appointing new manager Rick Grogan, following a shake up early in the close season.