Hibernian boss Heckingbottom returns to his roots at Ryhill FC

Hibernian head coach Paul Heckingbottom with Ryhill FC juniors
Hibernian head coach Paul Heckingbottom with Ryhill FC juniors

Hibernian head coach and former Leeds United and Barnsley boss Paul Heckingbottom paid a visit to Ryhill FC to unveil new pitches at Rycroft Leisure Centre on Saturday.

Barnsley-born Heckingbottom, who grew up in Royston, was impressed with the club's new grass pitches and grounds maintenance equipment, all made possible thanks to investment from the Premier League, The FA and Government’s Football Foundation.

After netting a £29,682 grant from the Football Foundation, work begun on the site in November 2018. The grant supported the development of existing unused land at the site to create two additional 7v7 grass pitches, including new goalposts, boundary fencing and the purchase of new pitch maintenance equipment.

Ryhill FC’s teams compete in the Charles Rice and Selby District Leagues and the club recognised the need for additional junior pitches to provide increased provision for training and match play.

Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA worked in close partnership with Ryhill Junior FC to focus on increasing participation through the growth of new teams and the introduction of the club’s first female team. The aim is for the club to grow from 13 to 17 teams in the next five years and the introduction of two new girls’ teams will support over 35 girls playing competitive football.

Rycroft Leisure Centre has its origins in 1927 when the Ryhill and Havercroft Miners Welfare Scheme was established to provide sports and recreation activities for the communities of Ryhill and Havercroft. With support from the two parish councils the centre provides a range of sports and social activities including: football, cricket, bowls, badminton, a fitness suite and vibrant youth centre.

Gary Middleton, head coach at Ryhill FC, said: “This is a great day for Ryhill Football Club and I would like to thank Paul Heckingbottom for officially opening our new pitches which will enable the club to offer more young people the chance to participate.

“It’s been a real team effort from club volunteers and our supporters in the local community backed by the generous funding of the Football Foundation.”

Heckingbottom said: “I can remember playing on some really bad pitches growing up, but it was part of the game and learning my trade. For young players at all levels of the game it is only going to help having better pitches and facilities available to play on and it’s great to see this level of investment in my hometown.

“I think it is brilliant that the Premier League, FA and Government recognise the importance of improving grassroots facilities to help develop and shape the future of our national sport. I’m sure the improved grass pitches at Ryhill FC will play a huge role in helping to grow the club.”