Upper Beeding on the move - in a bid to be on the up

Upper Beeding will play first-team home games at Steyning from next season in an effort to climb the leagues.

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 8:27 am
Steyning Town in action at the Shooting Field - where Upper Beeding will be playing home matches from next season / Picture: Derek Martin

The village side were second in division two of the SCFL when football came to a halt in March but they say the only way they will be able to move up to division one in the future is if their home ground is good enough for that level of football.

The first team have become an established SCFL division two side over the past five seasons, and were Sussex Intermediate Cup finalists in 2019.

They were on target for their highest-ever finish and best SCFL points tally when the season was curtailed. A mix of the league being declared null and void and FA ground-grading regulations meant any chance of promotion was fantasy. In the current climate, there is no prospect of them being able to upgrade with floodlights and 50-seater stands in the foreseeable future.

But the club have the ambition to go to the next level and are confident they have the management team and squad of players to be able to hold their own and the structure to sustain progress if they can achieve promotion in the next few seasons.

Upper Beeding secretary Dave Rowland said: “We are pleased to confirm we have put in place a groundsharing agreement with Steyning Town FC from the start of the season to play all our first-team league and cup home games at the excellent 3G facility at the Birchwood Ground, Shooting Field. “This will position us to develop our performances and attract and recruit the quality of players to be competitive with a view to securing promotion in the future.

“We will be making announcements about strengthening the management and coaching set-up, and we want to recruit players who share our values and ambition to join us on what promises to be an exciting journey.

“Steyning Town, through their chairman Ian Nicholls and Woody, have been excellent in offering their full cooperation and support with this ground-breaking initiative.”

Steyning chairman Nichols added: “On behalf of the club I am delighted to welcome Upper Beeding to the Birchwood Ground at Shooting Field. We are really pleased we will be able to help our friends from over the river achieve their aim of promotion.”

Upper Beeding say they have been made to feel like partners with a shared vision for developing football in the community, rather than a tenant to a landlord.

They added: “We will be working hard to maintain our own identity with a ‘Beeding matchday experience’ in terms of banners, signage and hospitality. We are extremely grateful for their commitment and enthusiasm for this development.

“The clubs are less than two miles apart, and for councils, funders and planners to ever agree another facility was never likely to happen. We have worked hard over the past month to secure grants, donors, sponsors to have a financial model that already has the cash reserves to cover the outlay of this development and so it will be all systems go to make the dream a reality. Exciting times ahead.”

Meanwile Upper Beeding have had to cancel the six-a-side youth tournament they had scheduled for June 13. They will refund entry fees. They explained: “With the recent guidance on prolonged social distancing, there was simply no prospect of a gathering of nearly 500 people any time in 2020.”

Work on the club’s pitches continues. They have been verti-drained, fertilised, over seeded, and the goal areas repaired, and are looking in exceptional condition ready for next season. The club thanked the parish council for their support and generosity in contributing towards the cost of the remedial work.

Everything is set for a start to pre season training on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from June 16 with pre-season friendlies scheduled from July. But these are provisional dates and any resumption will be driven by advice from the government and football authorities.

Upper Beeding will be running new teams including under-18s, a proper vets set-up and further junior teams.

Dan Fuller-Smith will manage an under-18s team in the competitive SCFL Youth division on Sunday mornings, and he has been busy recruiting a management and coaching team and players. The club see this as critical to sustaining a pathway of players into senior football.

UB’s reserves are likely to be playing in the WSFL premier Division next season with Jamie Parsons again managing the side, and their successful under-13s will operate under Matt Higgins and Jamie Plummer in the Horsham Youth League.

They will play on a Saturday morning on the main pitch. The club will be expanding the under-11 and under-ten teams following the excellent progress made. With all these teams playing at UBMF, the pressure on the pitch and facilities was becoming a real issue, and something had to give.

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