'Horwich has lost its sporting identity', say residents as football teams leave town and pitches fall into disrepair

A map showing Horwich's loss of facilities

The Friends of Horwich Football and other campaigners at the Green Lane playing fields, from left, Bob Horsefield, Kieran Morris, Danny Holmes, Danny Barry, Steven Chadwick, Michael Stevens and Stewart Burke

The Horwich RMI team, pictured in 1989. The team is now Leigh Genesis

An old Rivingtonians, also pictured in 1989, were one of the top teams in Lancashire

Green Lane playing fields in Horwich are “of a very poor standard”, say The Friends of Horwich Football

First published in News
Last updated
The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

A GROUP of Horwich residents has joined forces to save the town’s recreational facilities and reclaim the area’s proud sporting history.

The Friends of Horwich Football group is made up of local people with a passion for sport and has been launched with the target of “improving both the quality and quantity of community sporting facilities in Horwich”.

Members feel a number of factors, including an increase in housing developments and the poor upkeep of pitches, have lead to a “dire” situation for sport in Horwich.

The group’s primary focus is on football — but it also wants to improve provisions for other sports, including cricket and crown green bowling.

There is a feeling among many that Horwich has lost a big part of its sporting identity — with a number of football teams leaving the town or having to play fixtures elsewhere.

Group member Kieran Morris, aged 32, said: “I have played competitive football in Horwich since I was eight years old and, at 32, it is distressing to see the decline in facilities and clubs in the town.

“Growing up I remember going to watch numerous town teams. There was a real passion for sport in Horwich and amateur football attracted large crowds.


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“Back then Horwich had its own Sunday league and teams travelled from other towns to play in it.

“We had St Mary’s, who were one of the best Sunday teams in the North West, and the Old Rivingtonians, who were one of the top amateur clubs in Lancashire for a while.”

These teams are no longer a part of the sporting make-up of Horwich and another famous side, Horwich RMI, who once reached the third round of the FA Cup, have left the area and reformed as Leigh Genesis.

The area where the former Horwich RMI team played, which included a Northern Premier League standard ground, has been replaced with housing.

Mr Morris added: “The lack of suitable facilities now means that Horwich’s most successful club, Horwich Victoria, have to travel to the Essa academy on the other side of Bolton and pay £150 a match to use the facility.”

The group believes that with the reduction of pitches in the town, there is only one facility available for senior football in Horwich, in Green Lane — a pitch Mr Morris describes as “of a very poor standard”.

It has also been revealed that a portion of the Green Lane playing fields has been earmarked for housing in Bolton Council’s most recent allocations plan that has been sent for inspection to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

But Bolton Council chiefs stressed the local authority was investing £1 million in playing fields, which will include drainage works at Green Lane.

In contrast to the senior football situation, junior football in the town is thriving, with more than 1,000 schoolchildren playing in matches every weekend.

But the question being asked is: Where will the children play when they turn 16?

Another of the group’s concerns is about major development plans for the area, including a 1,700 home estate on the site of the former Horwich Loco Works and a 140-house scheme on the Bolton College campus in Victoria Road.

If approved, they will bring many more sports people to the area — and the pressure on the town’s limited facilities could reach breaking point.

The Bolton College plans would also see the loss of another facility, as the college’s playing field would be developed for housing.

Another group member, Bob Horsefield, said: “Sporting facilities are being cut and disregarded to the detriment of the people of Horwich.

“In principle we welcome the proposed development at the Loco Works, but we need to be sure of what the impact of the development will be with regards to our community infrastructure.

“We want to promote the idea of space being made available within the constraints of the Loco Works development plan to accommodate a municipal sporting area, which could house a range of sporting clubs and other community driven ventures.”

At a recent meeting of Horwich Town Council, group member Steven Chadwick, aged 27, of Brownlow Road, presented an extensive list of about 20 playing spaces and facilities that he said were either no longer available for public use or are now not suitable for playing on.

He said: “It seems like Green Lane is the only area where senior football could take place and some of that could be built on.”

Horwich North East ward councillor Richard Silvester said he had objected to the Green Lane site going into the allocations plan.

He added: “I wasn’t listened to but I did object — I would recommend that that green space should be saved.”

In a statement, Bolton Council said it “regularly maintains all football pitches and recreation spaces” and that it “monitors them for any issues”.

A spokesman added: “We have significantly reduced the level of usage on council pitches since the Playing Pitch Strategy was last refreshed in 2007.

“With effect from 2010, the preferred level of usage on pitches has been reduced by a third, to two matches per week per pitch rather than the FA average standard of three matches per week.

“This has been possible because of investment in improved drainage on a number of other sites, bringing more pitches into use and also recognises Bolton’s local climatic conditions of high rainfall.”

  • For more information on the activities of the group, follow friendsofhorwichfootball on Facebook.

Comments (17)

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10:16am Thu 13 Mar 14

filthy6 says...

Regarding the proposed college development, Sport England offer money to help protect playing fields from development:

www.sportengland.org
/media-centre/news/2
012/december/10/olym
pic-legacy-fund-offe
rs-vital-protection-
and-investment-for-p
laying-fields-in-eng
land/
Regarding the proposed college development, Sport England offer money to help protect playing fields from development: www.sportengland.org /media-centre/news/2 012/december/10/olym pic-legacy-fund-offe rs-vital-protection- and-investment-for-p laying-fields-in-eng land/ filthy6
  • Score: 6

10:49am Thu 13 Mar 14

filthy6 says...

Ha ha - post something helpful & get a minus score. Good job I'm thick skinned.....!
Ha ha - post something helpful & get a minus score. Good job I'm thick skinned.....! filthy6
  • Score: 0

11:29am Thu 13 Mar 14

steverock6@sky.com says...

Bolton council have stripped Horwich of nearly all of it's facilities over the years and made it into a dormer town we have lost all identity they can blame cuts for it all they want but this has been going on for decades. Horwich was the jewel in the crown of Bolton borough and a great place to live now it is no more than a cash cow for Bolton. My sons used to play Sunday league football and had to use pitches in Wigan and travelled all over the north west where the standard of pitches where much better
Bolton council have stripped Horwich of nearly all of it's facilities over the years and made it into a dormer town we have lost all identity they can blame cuts for it all they want but this has been going on for decades. Horwich was the jewel in the crown of Bolton borough and a great place to live now it is no more than a cash cow for Bolton. My sons used to play Sunday league football and had to use pitches in Wigan and travelled all over the north west where the standard of pitches where much better steverock6@sky.com
  • Score: 1

11:29am Thu 13 Mar 14

notgonehome says...

filthy6 wrote:
Ha ha - post something helpful & get a minus score. Good job I'm thick skinned.....!
I give you a +vote
[quote][p][bold]filthy6[/bold] wrote: Ha ha - post something helpful & get a minus score. Good job I'm thick skinned.....![/p][/quote]I give you a +vote notgonehome
  • Score: 0

11:58am Thu 13 Mar 14

filthy6 says...

notgonehome wrote:
filthy6 wrote: Ha ha - post something helpful & get a minus score. Good job I'm thick skinned.....!
I give you a +vote
I thank you....!
[quote][p][bold]notgonehome[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]filthy6[/bold] wrote: Ha ha - post something helpful & get a minus score. Good job I'm thick skinned.....![/p][/quote]I give you a +vote[/p][/quote]I thank you....! filthy6
  • Score: -5

11:59am Thu 13 Mar 14

Brumas says...

filthy6 wrote:
Regarding the proposed college development, Sport England offer money to help protect playing fields from development:

www.sportengland.org

/media-centre/news/2

012/december/10/olym

pic-legacy-fund-offe

rs-vital-protection-

and-investment-for-p

laying-fields-in-eng

land/
Sport England are aware of this Planning application and have written to the Developers, reminding them of their obligations regarding Open Recreation space, which states if you develop open recreation land, you must re-place it with equivalent or better than facilities. No matter who owns the land. Keep up the good work, fight these developments and make everyone sit up and take notice of People Power.
[quote][p][bold]filthy6[/bold] wrote: Regarding the proposed college development, Sport England offer money to help protect playing fields from development: www.sportengland.org /media-centre/news/2 012/december/10/olym pic-legacy-fund-offe rs-vital-protection- and-investment-for-p laying-fields-in-eng land/[/p][/quote]Sport England are aware of this Planning application and have written to the Developers, reminding them of their obligations regarding Open Recreation space, which states if you develop open recreation land, you must re-place it with equivalent or better than facilities. No matter who owns the land. Keep up the good work, fight these developments and make everyone sit up and take notice of People Power. Brumas
  • Score: 3

12:01pm Thu 13 Mar 14

filthy6 says...

steverock6@sky.com wrote:
Bolton council have stripped Horwich of nearly all of it's facilities over the years and made it into a dormer town we have lost all identity they can blame cuts for it all they want but this has been going on for decades. Horwich was the jewel in the crown of Bolton borough and a great place to live now it is no more than a cash cow for Bolton. My sons used to play Sunday league football and had to use pitches in Wigan and travelled all over the north west where the standard of pitches where much better
So what we going to do about it?
[quote][p][bold]steverock6@sky.com[/bold] wrote: Bolton council have stripped Horwich of nearly all of it's facilities over the years and made it into a dormer town we have lost all identity they can blame cuts for it all they want but this has been going on for decades. Horwich was the jewel in the crown of Bolton borough and a great place to live now it is no more than a cash cow for Bolton. My sons used to play Sunday league football and had to use pitches in Wigan and travelled all over the north west where the standard of pitches where much better[/p][/quote]So what we going to do about it? filthy6
  • Score: 2

12:26pm Thu 13 Mar 14

tillyflop53 says...

Why oh why are these green areas being reduced. is it any wonder kids are getting less exercise when all there is is street after street of houses and no fields. How long before they build on bobsy? star lodge lost its identity. now they are going to build on college ground. I love Horwich was born there but it has lost its soul thanks to the money grabbing bureaucrats at Bolton council. I wonder when they will finish the build on Liverpool castle and turn that into apartments. Hands off our greens areas !!!!!!!!
Why oh why are these green areas being reduced. is it any wonder kids are getting less exercise when all there is is street after street of houses and no fields. How long before they build on bobsy? star lodge lost its identity. now they are going to build on college ground. I love Horwich was born there but it has lost its soul thanks to the money grabbing bureaucrats at Bolton council. I wonder when they will finish the build on Liverpool castle and turn that into apartments. Hands off our greens areas !!!!!!!! tillyflop53
  • Score: 3

12:43pm Thu 13 Mar 14

Brumas says...

How can Bolton MBC have a policy to help reduce obesity in Bolton, yet still promote the development of open recreation space, soon the children of Horwich will have to go outside the town just to keep fit. Plus some of the fields under threat are used by schools. But just like is said in Rugby use it or lose it, so lets please use it no matter what state it is in now. Keep up the fight and remind the councillors about the power of the vote.
How can Bolton MBC have a policy to help reduce obesity in Bolton, yet still promote the development of open recreation space, soon the children of Horwich will have to go outside the town just to keep fit. Plus some of the fields under threat are used by schools. But just like is said in Rugby use it or lose it, so lets please use it no matter what state it is in now. Keep up the fight and remind the councillors about the power of the vote. Brumas
  • Score: 1

1:10pm Thu 13 Mar 14

trotter1874 says...

Last time I watched Horwich St Mary's they were playing in Adlington strangely. Sad state of affairs when a team has to move to another borough just play their home matches.
Last time I watched Horwich St Mary's they were playing in Adlington strangely. Sad state of affairs when a team has to move to another borough just play their home matches. trotter1874
  • Score: 1

1:11pm Thu 13 Mar 14

Rememberscarborough says...

Brumas wrote:
How can Bolton MBC have a policy to help reduce obesity in Bolton, yet still promote the development of open recreation space, soon the children of Horwich will have to go outside the town just to keep fit. Plus some of the fields under threat are used by schools. But just like is said in Rugby use it or lose it, so lets please use it no matter what state it is in now. Keep up the fight and remind the councillors about the power of the vote.
If our beloved councillors have to choose between money and the welfare of the public there's only ever going to be one winner...
[quote][p][bold]Brumas[/bold] wrote: How can Bolton MBC have a policy to help reduce obesity in Bolton, yet still promote the development of open recreation space, soon the children of Horwich will have to go outside the town just to keep fit. Plus some of the fields under threat are used by schools. But just like is said in Rugby use it or lose it, so lets please use it no matter what state it is in now. Keep up the fight and remind the councillors about the power of the vote.[/p][/quote]If our beloved councillors have to choose between money and the welfare of the public there's only ever going to be one winner... Rememberscarborough
  • Score: 6

2:10pm Thu 13 Mar 14

marco999 says...

Oh God, I hope that isn't true - houses to be built on the fields by Green Lane? In this area it's the one place where people can come to play rounders, football and tobogganing in the winter etc - how long will it be before all Green space is given over to 'development' and we're left surrounded by ugly concrete? Isn't the right to play a basic human right? Where will we 'play' when all the fields and green space is gone?
Oh God, I hope that isn't true - houses to be built on the fields by Green Lane? In this area it's the one place where people can come to play rounders, football and tobogganing in the winter etc - how long will it be before all Green space is given over to 'development' and we're left surrounded by ugly concrete? Isn't the right to play a basic human right? Where will we 'play' when all the fields and green space is gone? marco999
  • Score: 6

4:19pm Thu 13 Mar 14

gladrill says...

Well thats Bolton Council all over. I think there is someone going round to see what grounds can be built on. Hands of Bolton we are sick of your meddling.
Well thats Bolton Council all over. I think there is someone going round to see what grounds can be built on. Hands of Bolton we are sick of your meddling. gladrill
  • Score: 0

6:24pm Thu 13 Mar 14

Beyond News Forum says...

My mother will be pleased, one of those on the list is directly down to property being damaged week in week out during the football season, the complaints throughout the street with the backs facing have not been met. The properties should be protected by high steel fencing/barriers but the council have refused to see fit to even answer the complaints of some resident or just fob them off. Maybe if the council had helped those residents then they would be more inclined to add their voices, but right now housing developments and other uses sound a better proposal than constant smashed windows, dogs being annoyed and flower beds, veg patches, fencing, shrubbery, lamps, garden furniture and so on being damaged every Saturday or Sunday, sometimes mid-week,
My mother will be pleased, one of those on the list is directly down to property being damaged week in week out during the football season, the complaints throughout the street with the backs facing have not been met. The properties should be protected by high steel fencing/barriers but the council have refused to see fit to even answer the complaints of some resident or just fob them off. Maybe if the council had helped those residents then they would be more inclined to add their voices, but right now housing developments and other uses sound a better proposal than constant smashed windows, dogs being annoyed and flower beds, veg patches, fencing, shrubbery, lamps, garden furniture and so on being damaged every Saturday or Sunday, sometimes mid-week, Beyond News Forum
  • Score: -8

10:41pm Thu 13 Mar 14

steverock6@sky.com says...

filthy6 wrote:
steverock6@sky.com wrote:
Bolton council have stripped Horwich of nearly all of it's facilities over the years and made it into a dormer town we have lost all identity they can blame cuts for it all they want but this has been going on for decades. Horwich was the jewel in the crown of Bolton borough and a great place to live now it is no more than a cash cow for Bolton. My sons used to play Sunday league football and had to use pitches in Wigan and travelled all over the north west where the standard of pitches where much better
So what we going to do about it?
Question is what are you and all the other voters going to do about it? perhaps vote for people who will stand up for the town!
[quote][p][bold]filthy6[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]steverock6@sky.com[/bold] wrote: Bolton council have stripped Horwich of nearly all of it's facilities over the years and made it into a dormer town we have lost all identity they can blame cuts for it all they want but this has been going on for decades. Horwich was the jewel in the crown of Bolton borough and a great place to live now it is no more than a cash cow for Bolton. My sons used to play Sunday league football and had to use pitches in Wigan and travelled all over the north west where the standard of pitches where much better[/p][/quote]So what we going to do about it?[/p][/quote]Question is what are you and all the other voters going to do about it? perhaps vote for people who will stand up for the town! steverock6@sky.com
  • Score: -1

10:43pm Thu 13 Mar 14

steverock6@sky.com says...

Brumas wrote:
How can Bolton MBC have a policy to help reduce obesity in Bolton, yet still promote the development of open recreation space, soon the children of Horwich will have to go outside the town just to keep fit. Plus some of the fields under threat are used by schools. But just like is said in Rugby use it or lose it, so lets please use it no matter what state it is in now. Keep up the fight and remind the councillors about the power of the vote.
Labour doesn't care about Horwich your right the answer is vote for people who will stand up for the town
[quote][p][bold]Brumas[/bold] wrote: How can Bolton MBC have a policy to help reduce obesity in Bolton, yet still promote the development of open recreation space, soon the children of Horwich will have to go outside the town just to keep fit. Plus some of the fields under threat are used by schools. But just like is said in Rugby use it or lose it, so lets please use it no matter what state it is in now. Keep up the fight and remind the councillors about the power of the vote.[/p][/quote]Labour doesn't care about Horwich your right the answer is vote for people who will stand up for the town steverock6@sky.com
  • Score: -2

10:45pm Thu 13 Mar 14

steverock6@sky.com says...

Rememberscarborough wrote:
Brumas wrote:
How can Bolton MBC have a policy to help reduce obesity in Bolton, yet still promote the development of open recreation space, soon the children of Horwich will have to go outside the town just to keep fit. Plus some of the fields under threat are used by schools. But just like is said in Rugby use it or lose it, so lets please use it no matter what state it is in now. Keep up the fight and remind the councillors about the power of the vote.
If our beloved councillors have to choose between money and the welfare of the public there's only ever going to be one winner...
Not with me I always put people first that's what all councillors should do
[quote][p][bold]Rememberscarborough[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Brumas[/bold] wrote: How can Bolton MBC have a policy to help reduce obesity in Bolton, yet still promote the development of open recreation space, soon the children of Horwich will have to go outside the town just to keep fit. Plus some of the fields under threat are used by schools. But just like is said in Rugby use it or lose it, so lets please use it no matter what state it is in now. Keep up the fight and remind the councillors about the power of the vote.[/p][/quote]If our beloved councillors have to choose between money and the welfare of the public there's only ever going to be one winner...[/p][/quote]Not with me I always put people first that's what all councillors should do steverock6@sky.com
  • Score: -1

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