A fresh start at the Riverside Centre at Bellholme for junior football has been agreed between the Centre and Todmorden Junior Football Club – in confirmation of our announcement earlier in the year.

Chair of the Club, Steve Crowther, and Riverside director Stephen Curry for Upper Calder Valley Renaissance (UCVR) met to confirm the arrangements recently.

Mr Curry said “Grassroots football was always part of plans to redevelop the site as a multi-activities, leisure and sports venue.

“Grassroots sports in general are important to the town deal board. We believe those young families using the site for football will also want to engage in other exciting activities we will be able to offer with the Town Deal funding we have been allocated.

As well as that capital funding we are investing around £20,000 in sports field regeneration over the next few years and having robust organic surfaces will mean fewer cancellations in winter and off-season we can hold community events and other income-generating activities which all feed back into the site’s upkeep and continued development”.

The club with around 250 young players uses various venues across the town but wants an identifiable long-term home base

Mr Crowther, also senior coach at the junior football club said “Through our partnership with UCVR at Riverside, we will be in a fantastic, beautiful location. Anyone driving past will immediately be drawn to the facility, especially when matches are being played. We are looking for a permanent home and Riverside ticks all the boxes. The current arrangements for use are a starting point from which both we and Riverside can build on”.

He added “I passionately believe that being part of Todmorden Juniors benefits our young people by developing their confidence, self-esteem and ability to believe in themselves. The club is a huge asset to the town and wider community, bringing visitors from across the Northwest who would not otherwise come to Todmorden”.

Both parties agreed that working together with much improved facilities will eventually provide steppingstones for a return of the adult game as a part of a portfolio of community activities at Riverside.

Mr Crowther said “We are both hoping for a long-term involvement at the site which will mean both Riverside itself and the club can expand accordingly. We need consistency to grow and offer more. We want to be a fixture at Riverside for years to come.”

The next few years will see nearly £1m, secured by UCVR, invested in the site as a part of the ‘levelling up’ Todmorden Town Deal programme.

Mr Curry added “UCVR is a not-for-profit social purpose organisation, income generated from the site will be reinvested in the site which we hope will employ several people. And in line with the Town Deal youth engagement strategy, we hope to offer apprenticeships within the next few years”.

Pam Warhurst Chair of the Todmorden Town Deal Board said “This is a fantastic gateway project and will be a great asset to the town. With its wide range of recreational activities this site is good news for young and old, local and visitor alike.”