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Exiled Townie

St Albans Centurions Get New Stadium For 2013

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Great news coming out of St Albans. St Albans Centurions are getting their own rugby league stadium. For the last two years the club has been playing their senior and junior games on pitches at Toulmin Drive Sports Ground, St Albans. The club has one ‘all year round’ pitch and two ‘summer only’ pitches that are marked out when the football season has ended. But now, thanks to some great negotiations between the club chairman, Brian Parker, and St Albans District Council, the club has been offered the sole use of the football stadium that sits in the corner of the complex, which has a stand, two permanent dug outs, a barrier and footpath around the pitch and a high hedge that surrounds the whole set up.

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The stadium is presently only used on ‘big match’ days like play offs and cup finals by the local football clubs and for most of the time it is under used. Following negotiations, it has been decided that after April 2012 – when the last football final has been played, the control and use of the stadium will pass to St Albans Centurions and be used for rugby league games. The council will continue to own the land, and the club will pay them rent, but Centurions will be in charge of the day to day running of the stadium and the maintenance and upkeep will be shared between the club and council. The council, who have proved very supportive to the Cents, have also hinted that if everything goes ok, they would consider putting money into the stadium in the future to upgrade or build facilities. The Club are also keeping its 12 month pitch next to the stadium and are in talks about having Mini/Junior size pitches set out nearby.

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The only major work that needs doing is to lengthen the playing area of the current football pitch. A rugby league pitch is a minimum 112 metres long from dead ball line to dead ball line, so one set of barriers will have to be removed from one end of the pitch and moved further downfield.

Chairman Brian parker said “When I approached the local councillors and district council with this plan I did expect a bit of resistance, but I have met with nothing but helpfulness and interest from all concerned."

The time line is something like this –

January – discussion with council/contractors about what is required/needs doing.

Feb to April – work to be carried out, last football game played in April (they have already paid the council for this)

May onwards – rugby league played.

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Glad to see our reserves have somewhere to play :ph34r::D

Seriously well done and good luck.

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This is excellent news for the equally excellent St. Albans Centurions. Congratulations to the committee who will have worked long and hard to secure such a deal. Onwards and upwards.

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That is a fantastic stand! A lick of paint in Centurions' colours and it'll be a fantastic place to watch rugby league.

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Cheers gents, we are chuffed with this, being in charge of our own ground is another step forward for the club.

The interesting bit for us is ..... "The council, who have proved very supportive to the Cents, have also hinted that if everything goes ok, they would consider putting money into the stadium in the future to upgrade or build facilities".

We know what we have hinted at, and didn't get knocked back, but it would be wrong to announce anything that wasn't a done deal yet, but you can hope. In the meantime, having our own 'stadium' to welcome teams to next year is something we are all looking forward to.

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Right so when are you joining SL? This year or next?

Seriously though, a great example of building the dream. Would like to see St Albans in CC1 in say 5 years' time.

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We know what we have hinted at, and didn't get knocked back, but it would be wrong to announce anything that wasn't a done deal yet, but you can hope.

I'll come out and say it.

Upgrade to 10,000 seats and apply for SL in 2015

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Where did those posts come from on the picture?

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Where did those posts come from on the picture?

I took the photo two years ago when we moved to Toulmin Drive. Our first game was a friendly against Cambridge University. The councils contractors were told to mark out and erect two full sized pitches. They did the main one that we have been using ever since, and they thought we were also playing in the 'stadium' so began putting those posts up as well. The club already had ideas about the stadium site and I managed to get a photo, just in case, before they took them down again.

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I took the photo two years ago when we moved to Toulmin Drive. Our first game was a friendly against Cambridge University. The councils contractors were told to mark out and erect two full sized pitches. They did the main one that we have been using ever since, and they thought we were also playing in the 'stadium' so began putting those posts up as well. The club already had ideas about the stadium site and I managed to get a photo, just in case, before they took them down again.

I see. When I first saw it (small) I assumed it was some sort of camera trickery with the angle.

Is it time for pre-season training yet? I'm getting bored

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Is it time for pre-season training yet? I'm getting bored

Didn't they tell you? The team has been pre season warm weather training in the Bahamas for the last three weeks. ;)

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Cracking little ground.

It looks like the ex-Doncaster Rovers Toll Bar training ground in Thorne.

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According to the London Junior League meeting last Monday St Albans will only be fielding minis and U12's this coming season. With no first team coach in place there may not be on open age team.

The collapse of RFL funding for development people is being felt as much at St Albans as in other parts of the country.

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The effect of cuts is being felt. Birmingham have shut down their junior programme as a result from having 5 age groups last year. They're down to 1 open age side from 3 in 2010.

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The effect of cuts is being felt. Birmingham have shut down their junior programme as a result from having 5 age groups last year. They're down to 1 open age side from 3 in 2010.

Does this mean that non heartland clubs have always been reliant on RFL funding of development officers to exist , and as a consequence can't run without that input ?

What funding , direct or indirect , has Birmingham lost ?

What structures do non heartland clubs put in place to secure their futures - the committees , coaches, volunteers etc without which it won't happen ? Give me a dedicated volunteer before half a dozen players any day.. wherever you are in the country.

RFL money should always at best be treated as a bonus , or even pump priming. If turning the tap off slowly is being blamed for these losses , then there are some fundamental issues to be addressed....

Is there a case to be made for concentrating what is left in the development envelope solely on the non heartlands , and if so , can those areas ever expect to become self sufficient ?

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Does this mean that non heartland clubs have always been reliant on RFL funding of development officers to exist , and as a consequence can't run without that input ?

What funding , direct or indirect , has Birmingham lost ?

What structures do non heartland clubs put in place to secure their futures - the committees , coaches, volunteers etc without which it won't happen ? Give me a dedicated volunteer before half a dozen players any day.. wherever you are in the country.

RFL money should always at best be treated as a bonus , or even pump priming. If turning the tap off slowly is being blamed for these losses , then there are some fundamental issues to be addressed....

Is there a case to be made for concentrating what is left in the development envelope solely on the non heartlands , and if so , can those areas ever expect to become self sufficient ?

There was never a problem getting people to run open age sides but there was at junior level IMO. We're looking at restructuring our younger age groups for next season which should relieve some pressure on volunteers but allow players to still get sufficient game time (possibly more than before depending on the club). Under 16s is very successful but under 18s is very difficult. Birmingham seem to have been in a decline for a couple of years so this withdrawal will affect them in a way it won't Coventry, Leicester, Northampton or Nottingham for example.

My concerns at open age are for 2 of the outpost leagues (although were they ever more than RU kick abouts?) and absolutely ensuring the viability of the Conference South as there's nothing at tier 4 for these clubs.

Of course you only need to go back 4 years to see Leicester and Northampton in a weaker state than Birmingham currently are so it can be turned round

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On current trends though I can see the withdrawal of RFL control lead to the pro clubs running the lower age groups (this only applies outside the heartlands) and then having players play for their community club once they pick the best for their scholarship programme. Possibly even the higher age groups and tier 4 open age leagues would be administered by them.

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According to the London Junior League meeting last Monday St Albans will only be fielding minis and U12's this coming season. With no first team coach in place there may not be on open age team. The collapse of RFL funding for development people is being felt as much at St Albans as in other parts of the country.

Thats the first I have heard of any of this. I have just been on the phone to our chairman and club secretary (who was at that meeting) to ask if any of this is true. Don't know too much about the juniors as there is a meeting being held on Monday regarding the set up for minis/juniors next season, and as far as there being no open aged team, here's what our chairman had to say " Don't believe all you hear on internet forums. We have just lost a very committed head coach and development officer. What we didn't think we should do is 'panic' and appoint a replacement Coach before we even know what league we'd be in or when our season would start or finish. We're still a little way off from starting pre-season training (although no doubt all would-be first teamers are engaged in gruelling fitness regimes already !!!), and we hope to be able to confirm details of league, opponents, fixtures and coach in plenty of time. If there is a league, we'll be in it."

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According to the London Junior League meeting last Monday St Albans will only be fielding minis and U12's this coming season. With no first team coach in place there may not be on open age team.

The collapse of RFL funding for development people is being felt as much at St Albans as in other parts of the country.

My recollection of the meeting, no clubs formally advised what junior / youth or minis sides they would run in 2013. All clubs were asked to advise the Management Board with their intentions by 14th December. At this point, the Management Board would review the weighting of each age group and establish the best fit, league structure to competing teams.

Taking on Del Capo point from earlier, a Development Officer should be in place to develop, i.e. get in place junior players, coaches, volunteers. All too often, they end up as the crutch for a club, doing anything and everything except develop. Take St Albans as an example, the club / city had a Development Officer in place for 4 years. At the outset of the role, the club had ad hoc junior teams, a handful of coaches (qualified or otherwise), little (if any) presence in schools and now, 4 years down the road and just a matter of weeks after the DO left his role, there is a suggestion the club are only able to run u12s in 2013.

I am not sure what conclusions to draw from this but it doesn’t make good reading.

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According to the London Junior League meeting last Monday St Albans will only be fielding minis and U12's this coming season. With no first team coach in place there may not be on open age team. The collapse of RFL funding for development people is being felt as much at St Albans as in other parts of the country.

Is it a rugby league thing that when a club announces a bit of good news, it's compulsory for people to come along and paint the worst possible scenario?

According to the St Albans website, the club will be running U6, U7, U9, U11, U13 and trying their damndest to get a U16 up and running as well. They have a senior squad in place and hope to run a development squad as well. Add to that the news that they have their own Rugby League (only) stadium in sight for next year and I think things look pretty good. I'm sure there is 'politics' involved as well, there always is in sporting organisations, but to an outsider they seem to be doing well.

(I have a soft spot for St Albans, I was introduced to rugby league a couple of years ago by having a spare couple of hours visiting relations in St Albans, and whilst the wife was nattering away I just turning up at one of their games, I was made to feel welcome and enjoyed the match. One of their committee even stood beside me and explained the rules. I try and get to two or three of their games each season, even supported their Minis festival, when the entheusiasm of the people involved in running the minis teams was contagious.)

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Is it a rugby league thing that when a club announces a bit of good news, it's compulsory for people to come along and paint the worst possible scenario?

Yes it is, we are our own worst enemies.

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