SUPPORTERS have said a pavilion is breathing new life into sport in Stedham – which is suddenly punching very much above its weight.
“In the past, we had one of the best football and cricket pitches in the whole of Sussex – and one of the worse pavilions,” said David Burton.
We are so proud of what we have achieved and it is quite emotional as well, seeing the pavilion brought to life after all these years of planning
“It made life very difficult, particularly for the footballers because it got to the stage where the West Sussex league were threatening to throw us out.”
Now, the village finds itself with state of the art facilities to match its pitches.
“We are so proud of what we have achieved and it is quite emotional as well, seeing the pavilion brought to life after all these years of planning.”
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
It was 2007 when Mr Burton set out to build new facilities together with fellow Stedham villager, Steve Trussler.
And it was Steve with an army of builders, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and brickies – most of whom play sport on the Stedham ground themselves – who built the pavilion.
“We started it off,” said Mr Burton, “but it has been a rocky road.
“The biggest mistake we made was that as a sport committee, we thought we could set up the design, get the architects in and build pavilion.
“We very quickly realised we needed the whole village involved.”
A steering committee was formed with Mr Burton bringing in new expertise in the form of villagers Stephen McGairl, Paul Mellings and former chairman of the National Trust Martin Drury.
There was also a representative from each of the sports sections and the Stedham Sports Association was born as custodians of the field and the buildings.
“Suddenly it all took off with public meetings and everybody coming together,” said Mr Burton.
Slowly, the plans came together and Mr Trussler took charge of the building work itself, which began in earnest seven months ago.
“I am very proud of this building,” he said.
“I feel I am leaving a legacy for the village and most of the workmen involved in the building also have connections with the village and its sport, so we have all had a vested interested in the project.”
The original Stedham Collins Club opened on Friday, December 12, 1884, after the building and sports field were gifted by the Scrimgeour family.
There were three baths for villagers, a library and reading room and the ground floor opened up to members as a coffee house in 1886.
It was the beginning of the Collins Club which remained open until September 27, 2010.
The upstairs area was used in the 50s, 60s and 70s for younger members of the village for discos and table tennis. The building was adapted to include a cottage for a resident steward in the 60s.
The club was popular for social events, including regular live music nights, snooker, pool and darts matches. In later years there were also charity concerts.
Football, cricket and stoolball all started on the playing field as early as 1913 with bowls following on the green in 1927.
At first, there was a small wooden cricket pavilion on the west boundary but a donation from a generous Stedham villager saw the recently demolished building put up in the 1960s.
Stedham stoolball players joined the West Sussex league in the 1970s and continue to play in this league today.
Cricket continued until 2001 when, sadly, the Stedham team disbanded. Liphook thirds and Midhurst thirds and junior teams took on the use of the cricket square.
Football was played as part of the Midhurst and District league and later in the West Sussex league which thrives today.
Lasting legacy for sports stars of the future
IT has been seven years in the planning and at times a rollercoaster ride for those who have been at the sharp end.
But the super-human efforts of villagers have resulted in 21st-century facilities at Stedham which their children and grandchildren will still be proud to use in decades to come.
For many years, Stedham villagers playing cricket, football, stoolball and bowls were based in the Stedham Collins Club in the village centre playing on the sports field across the road and having the use of the small pavilion there.
But the cost of maintaining the old Collins Club became a headache and things came to a head in 2007.
David Burton was then chairman of the club: “The building had deteriorated so much over the years and we were losing a lot of money trying to keep it going.
“It had been self funding but over the years people’s social lives changed and they stopped using it so much.”
In common with small village clubs across the county, the Stedham Collins Club committee found the smoking ban and tougher drink and drive laws conspired to see the popularity of small village clubs decline.
“But we are a very strong sporting village and we desperately needed a new pavilion,” said Mr Burton, “and what we have is a lovely building, built to a very high standard with room to socialise, a kitchen, changing rooms for home and away teams, a room for the referee and we hope to have a licence to open a bar.”
“Essentially, the pavilion is on the sport field and sport gets priority, but when it is not in use we want to encourage use for parties, birthdays and weddings as the pavilion has to finance itself.”
The estimated cost of the pavilion was £440,000.
Around half of this was raised through the sale of the old club building across the road.
The Monument Trust, set up by Simon Sainsbury who lived nearby in Woolbeding until his death in 2006, gave a £153,000 grant to the project.
A further grant was obtained from the Boldini Trust.
In addition, there was funding from Chichester District Council, West Sussex County Council and a donation from the Rotary Club of Midhurst and Petworth.
The steering committee also set up a ‘buy a brick fund’ for those contributing to the project who had their names recorded in a book.
This innovative scheme raised an impressive £8,456.20
The project looks like coming in slightly under budget and the hope is to build a multi-use hard court alongside the pavilion including hard courts for tennis.