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Gravesham Sports Trust need £250,000 to replace astroturf at Gravesend Rugby Club

By Steve Tervet

The only full-sized astroturf hockey pitch in Gravesham will be shut down this year unless £250,000 is raised to replace it.

The playing surface at Gravesend Rugby Club is almost too dangerous for use and several prominent clubs will be left homeless if the astroturf closes.

Gravesham Sports Trust, which has maintained the astro since its formation in 1996, has raised £50,000 so far but the clock is ticking to find the other £200,000.

Meopham and Gravesend both use the astroturf Picture: Andy Payton
Meopham and Gravesend both use the astroturf Picture: Andy Payton

GST is a charitable trust chaired by Karen Taylor, who admitted: “We’re in a bit of a state.

“A padlock will go on that gate when Kent Hockey make the decision it’s not fit for hockey to be played on.

“There are too many trip hazards, the seams and the lines. At the moment, the ball is running OK but once that decision is made, that will be it.

“We want it to be a hockey-standard surface but you can’t underestimate the importance of having the whole hub there. If you had to play at a sports centre or college, you wouldn’t have the interaction before and after the match.”

Gravesham & Wellcome Hockey Club have four men’s teams which use the pitch, three of whom were promoted last season and are challenging again.

Formed when Gravesham merged with Dartford & Wellcome less than three years ago, the club have seen membership almost double in that time and they plan to expand further.

Chairman Simon Chapman said: “We’re looking at launching a fifth team next year aimed at youth development but we need this new pitch in order to attract them.

"If the pitch wasn’t there, we would be struggling as a club. The only other available pitches nearby are Ebbsfleet and Hundred of Hoo and they don’t have the same facilities.

Gravesham & Wellcome play their home games at Gravesend Picture: Andy Payton
Gravesham & Wellcome play their home games at Gravesend Picture: Andy Payton

“I’m not saying the club would fold but you would start losing that social side.”

Since the 1940s the site has been used by Gravesend Ladies Hockey Club, whose representative Sharon Corrigan says the astro has wider benefits.

She said: “We’ve got two teams but it’s more than that for the ladies. We’ve been running ‘get into hockey’ sessions for over a year, which is open to anyone.

“We have a diverse group of individuals from the community and it’s helped them with their mental wellbeing, so it’s broader than just the two ladies’ teams.”

GST hope England Hockey will support their applications for grants and they’ve also teamed up with local retailers to help raise funds.

If you can help, or want more information, visit www.graveshamsportstrust.org.uk or email gsportstrust@gmail.com.

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