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Story posted: Thursday, 12th August 1993

Moatmen on the move
Story courtesy of Andy Parker- Burton Mail
A soccer stadium and more than 100 homes are included in plans for derelict South Derbyshire industrial land.
The plans, which have been the subject of rumour and speculation for almost two years, were revealed today following a planning application by multi-national minerals giant Hepworth.

The company envisages a 6,000 capacity football stadium for Gresley Rovers on a former pottery site in Church Gresley, close to Albert Village, currently owned by Hepworth, with access from Church Street and Bridge Street, Church Gresley.

Also planned are a social club, an all-weather, floodlit sports pitch for community use, car parking and “all the facilities you would expect at a modern football ground” – all in a woodland setting.

The site is littered with former coal and clay workings and abandoned building, with Rovers, nicknamed the Moatmen, hoping to partly fund the project under the Government Derelict Land Grant programme.

Other funding would come from sponsorship, investment and other grants, with a number of potential backers having already shown an interest in the project.

Other parts of the site would be developed as part of the National Forest plan.

Outline plans show a practice pitch close to the stadium, which is surrounded by trees. There is also a car showroom on the site with access off Common Road.

The details were announced today by Gresley Rovers commercial director Mr Frank McArdle, who has been secretly planning the project for more than two years.

Mr McArdle said: “To progress to our present level of football we have carried out a considerable amount of development and the club has now risen to the highest level in the Beazer Home Football League.

“But even as we were pouring in the concrete in our bid to get the Moat Ground to Beazer Homes League standard, we were looking further afield to secure the club’s future.

“We would never consider moving the club out of Church Gresley or it’s immediate confines, and that gave us a difficult task. We would not have been able to relocate through our own resources, even with the fantastic support the club has. So we’ve obviously delighted to be involved with a local company which owns the land and which has shown its willingness by applying for planning permission to develop a new ground.”

Also planned for the 10-acre site are large areas of woodland and open space with public access, with a 15-year plan to include 146 houses on the land at Church Gresley.

This will include the reclamation and stabilisation of 10 acres of derelict land in Bridge Street. It is intended as the first phase of a long-term development strategy for this part of Church Gresley over the next 10-15 years the company said today.

Hepworth is discussing with the National Forest team the allocation of 25 further acres of land for public woodland.

Mr McArdle added: “ We’re confident it’s going to be one of the most attractive settings in the whole of football – it’s going to be superb.”

He was unable to say how much the stadium would cost, and said a start date for the project would be subject to the granting of planning permission by South Derbyshire Council.

South Derbyshire Council’s vice chairman Councillor Josiah Ford, a Rovers fan for 30 years, welcomed the news.

“I am very pleased. There will be better parking for fans and better facilities for visiting teams. It is a step up the ladder which Rovers deserve,” he said.
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League Position
  Team P GD Pts
10 Highgate United 29 -3 38
11 South Normanton Athletic 26 0 37
12 Worcester City 26 11 36
13 AFC Wulfunians 31 -6 36
14 Coventry Sphinx 25 -19 34
15 Tividale 23 -4 27
16 Haughmond 29 -29 26
17 Racing Club Warwick 24 -29 24
18 Lye Town 28 -31 18
19 Gresley 26 -22 16
20 Selston 25 -38 13

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