- Surrey club celebrating much needed new facilities
- RFU capital funding and RFF loan help meet the cost
Photo: RFU Archive
When Farnham Rugby club moved to their established site at Wrecclesham 35 years ago, members of the rugby club – a much smaller club then – carried the goalposts to Westfield Lane from their previous home on the outskirts of the town.
The club where England fly half Jonny Wilkinson learnt his rugby has spent nearly 15 years trying to establish a new site in Farnham and their ambitions have been finally realised with the imminent move to Monkton Lane.
The club outgrew the Wrecclesham site primarily by virtue of the massive growth of Mini and Junior rugby and now has over 600 young players, both boys and girls, playing regular rugby.
Almost as tradition, the club decided to carry the goalposts once again from Wrecclesham to the new site in Monkton Lane. Nearly 100 members of the club took part in the adventure with accompanying stewards to make sure it was a safe journey. Those taking part ranged from two-year-old William Phillips to the club leaders, President Geoff Bond and Chairman Geoff Robins. The Kamm family representing the main club sponsors, Bourne Homes, supported the event described by Andy Kamm as “a big family event and a memorable day”.
Geoff Robins said: “It was a fantastic occasion for the rugby club, very well supported by the members so my thanks go to all those who took part. We would also like to thank all the people of Farnham for their support.”
Much of the recruitment work for the day was coordinated by Catherine Jones, who supports the under-eight year group and the event was organised by David Gill and club secretary Mark Weeks.
Senior members, club captain Karl Brown and the Minis and Juniors chairman Steve Tomlinson led each of the main posts and many of the club's mini and junior players, and those from the Academy, carried for much of the journey.
At their destination, arriving at the new Monkton Lane ground, the younger carriers were given a round of applause. Members then stood around in disbelief at the fantastic new facilities, some even rolled around on the ground because they couldn't believe there was immaculate grass for them to play on – even just look at – for the new season starting in September.
Steve Tomlinson summarised what the move means for the club: "Despite the size of the club with over 1000 members, we have in the past had a reputation for having the worst rugby club facilities in Surrey. Now we have about the best, it's incredible and a big thanks to all who made it possible."
The Rugby Football Union awarded Farnham RUFC a Capital Investment Programme (CIP) grant of £85,000 towards the installation of four rugby pitches, and an interest-free loan of £100,000 towards the clubhouse project was made from the Rugby Football Foundation. The CIP is the capital funding element of the Union’s Whole Sport Plan funding secured from government, and the CIP award was made in December 2010, with an RFU-engaged agronomist providing a specification for the work, as with all RFU-supported pitch projects.
Rick Bruin, RFU Funding & Facilities manager in London & South East, has worked alongside Farnham’s constituent body, Surrey Rugby, since 2004 in support of the club in its planning and appeal process, and met with the club, Sport England and Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport) regarding the funding.
Bruin said: "Farnham has been a prime example of a thriving community rugby club whose playing and coaching numbers outstripped their existing facilities."
The club has also been used as an RFU case study, and is featured in a promotional leaflet, as an example of best practice in utilising the ‘Just Giving’ website initiative for fundraising via its Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) status.