The Playing Field (An extract from the Village Millennium book)
Ullesthorpe’s playing field came into existence because a group of people wanted their children to have somewhere safe to play, and for some that they also loved football.
It started in June 1968 with a survey of villagers, who indicated an interest in such a facility. A charitable trust was formed in the name of ‘Ullesthorpe Playing Field Association’. The trustees looked at several sites and the current field was chosen. The purchase took some time but with tenacity on the part of the committee this was completed in early 1973. At one stage this tenacity had Bert Hayes sitting in a solicitor’s office and refusing to move until some action was forthcoming !
By 1975 Ullesthorpe boasted of two football teams. Prior to this Ullesthorpe Football Club had led a nomadic existence. Any flat field was utilised, such as one near Claybrooke Mill or at ‘Wooffer’ Williams field near Ashby Parva (now used by Misterton Riding Club). At its height the football club also had a junior side
The support of members of the football club was very important to the wellbeing of the Playing Field.
Ullesthorpe Football Club 1st team and reserves circa 1976
Back row:- K. Young, B. Sharman, M. Smith, P. Finlayson, M. Hayes, M. Hancock, B. Burton, A. Renshaw, C. Huffa, R. Wyatt, T. Cooper, P. Lill, B. Crane, A. Neal, unknown.
Middle row:- D. Dingley, C. Boneham, S. Ward, D. Gardner, G. Underhill.
Front row:- D. Finlayson, G. Eckersley, R. Toone, A. Eckersley, M. Mawby, T. Green, M. Norman.
On 26th September 1976 an exhibition match was played at the playing field between an Ex Leicester City team and an Ex Derby County team. The result was 4-3 in favour of Derby County and several hundred football fans watched a good game with the proceeds being split between the Playing Field Association and the Football Club.
Money was raised for the Playing Field by a combination of grants and fund raising events to cover the total cost of some £16,000. This money was used over several years between 1973 and early 80’s to buy the land (approximately 4 acres), to build the pavilion and to erect some play equipment.
The beginning… A field, a lot of materials and enthusiasm !
The Initial plan was to purchase two buildings from a business in Lutterworth. These were dismantled and, with a great deal of effort, transported to the Playing Field site. In the process Bob Freelove nearly lost his head and Mike Bradley came within a whisker of breaking his leg. It was decided, after all that effort, that it would be better to use new materials and so the buildings were sold.
The costs, particularly those relating to building the pavilion were kept to a minimum by the volunteer efforts of several villagers. Volunteer help often suffers from an excess of enthusiasm over experience, and with the help and advice of Les Jefferies many of the pitfalls were avoided. The pavilion was finally completed in 1983.
Terry Green and Bob Freelove putting on the roof.
Ullesthorpe Cricket Club 1984.
Back row – A. Jones, D. Cleverdon, G. O’Leary, B. Mee, J. Oldring, P. Rimmer, A. O’Farrell
Front Row – J. Martini, K. Crane, B. Wilkinson, D. Young, T. Green, P. Egan (capt.).
The first mention of cricket in Ullesthorpe is of a game between Ullesthorpe Cricket Club and Lutterworth Cricket Club in 1789. For many years, the cricket ground was on the site of Goodacre Road.
Ullesthorpe Old Boys 27th Aug 1984
Back row – W. Edwards (umpire), P. Bruce, D. Haynes, A. Jones, H. Harley, J. Ofield, J. Monsell, B. Mee.
Front row – T. Green, J. Egan, H, Stevens (capt.), B. Herbert, C. Granger (umpire).
It seems natural that the playing field should be closely linked to the sport being played there. Perhaps by coincidence, it seems that as one sport rises in popularity another will fall. During the mid 80s support for the football club fell away and use of the field switched towards cricket.
It is fair to say that, as with the football club earlier, without the involvement of members of the cricket club in the running of the playing field during the 80s the playing field may well have failed entirely. In 1997 the cricket club closed down and interest in a football club re-surfaced. Is the cycle starting all over again ?
One point is often overlooked and that is that the Playing Field is owned, maintained and supported by the village. To keep this facility moving forward a regular supply of new ideas and enthusiasm must be found.
For information about the Playing Field today click here