After a decade playing out of town, Scarborough Athletic are now just weeks away from a return to play at a brand new Sports Village.
A new 2,000 capacity community football stadium is now almost complete, progressing quickly since work began back in January 2016, alongside a new eight lane 25-metre Olympic Legacy swimming pool and leisure centre at the former park and ride car park site. The football stadium comprises a 250 seat main stand, a new 3G pitch to allow usage throughout the year, a large function room/bar for supporters to enjoy on match days and the metal gates from the former Athletic Ground that will now welcome fans to the new facility.
The chance to return from exile in Bridlington and play back in Scarborough marks an important milestone for the club, giving an opportunity for a new era for Scarborough Athletic FC after ten years playing out of town.
Playing away from Scarborough, the club has managed to secure two promotions and gradually climb back up the football pyramid, currently competing in the Evo-Stik First Division North after missing out on promotion in the play-offs last season. The Seadogs continue to be supported by a loyal fan base of over 350 fans despite playing in Bridlington since the 2007/08 season. The chance to play back in town will bring to an end the 36-mile round trip to play ‘home’ games at the Queensgate stadium in Bridlington and put Boro back at the heart of the local community.
Attendance will be at capacity for the first game back home against a Sheffield United XI on Saturday 15 July, but it is hoped that long term the move back to Scarborough will encourage football fans who have not been able to make the trip to Bridlington regularly to return to see the town’s senior side in action. Further friendlies have been arranged against a Leeds United U23s side to create as much interest as possible ahead of the opening league game in August.
The club has had a difficult final season away from home with the tragic and sudden death of club Chairman Dave Holland in February. Dave was a key driver in the plans for the return to Scarborough, working tirelessly to achieve his dream of playing back in town, so his loss just months away from completion of the project rocked the club to its core. On the pitch, the side led by former Guiseley boss Steve Kittrick were brought together by the tragedy, embarking on a remarkable run to end the season with eight straight wins to "Do it for Dave!" and finish the season in third place.
Playing back in Scarborough also gives the club a chance to really prove its community credentials. The base at Weaponness will be a massive platform not just for the senior side but also provide a base for all of the Scarborough Athletic junior sides. As well as the first team, the club boasts five youth teams plus an Under-19s side, and the Scarborough Athletic Frame Football Club. The hope is to grow the youth and senior setup further through the new facility and create an academy to help more local players progress through to the first team in the future.
The club have been working hard with Scarborough Borough Council and other partners over many years to achieve the dream of football coming home as part of the new development. For current Boro Chairman Trevor Bull it would mark the end of a long journey to see senior football return to the town. He said: “The first game against a Sheffield United XI will be an unforgettable occasion for everyone involved at the club after such a long period in exile. The fans have stuck by us over the last ten years and we can now push on from our new base at the Sports Village to become a key partner in the local community in Scarborough."
Everyone at SD would like to congratulate Scarborough and are delighted that their years' of hard work has paid off.