IT’S been a long time coming – more than 40 years, in fact – but the widening of the Davey Fort pitch, home to Lyme Regis Football Club, is now a reality.
The football pitch was intended to be the focal point of a sports centre in Charmouth Road, planned by the former borough council.
The site was to have included a bowling green, rifle shooting alley and running track. But severe subsidence at the cliff-side location caused the project to be abandoned and Lyme was left with one minimum sized football pitch.
With the bare minimum in length and width allowed by the Football Association, Lyme’s ambition to be playing at a higher level has been stunted over the years.
When the club took the decision to leave the Perry Street League, made up of mainly village teams, one alternative was to join the Dorset League. But the small pitch did not meet the criteria set by Dorset FA to play at a higher standard.
This led to Lyme joining the Devon & Exeter League, whose pitch regulations are not so strict and the first team now play in their Premier division, the highest standard at which they have played in the club’s long history.
The Seasiders still have to play in the Dorset County Cup competitions but because they are now seen to be in senior football as a Devon & Exeter Premier team, but they have had to play all their Dorset Senior Cups away.
With the help of a £1,500 grant from the Football Association for pitch maintenance, the northern bank has now been graded which will allow the pitch to be widened by around nine feet. Trees are to be planted at the top of the bank to help retention.
A number of players have helped with the works and they are now preparing for phase three of their Project Fortify development plan, which will include more ground drainage, two new dug-outs, a groundsman’s hut, site fencing and tarmacing of the car park.
Phases one and two included a new kitchen and 64-seat grandstand, due to be officially opened when the 2020-2021 season starts.
The project has been supported with a four-year £100,000 grant from Lyme Regis Town Council with match funding of 50% from the club.