Council plea for Whitecross football pitch

071211 Graeme Burnett of whitecross fc at their water logged pitch.
071211 Graeme Burnett of whitecross fc at their water logged pitch.

A WHITECROSS football coach is willing to take matters into his own hands if pitch problems threatening the local team are not sorted out.

Graeme Burnett, head coach at Whitecross Football Club, says the park is in a “shocking state” and feels the village has been let down by Falkirk Council as they have not budgeted for much needed renovations. Pitch flooding has meant the U17 team has not been able to play locally, and they have had to travel to play on other grounds, putting a strain on club finances, and a question mark on their future. The club also pay £247 to the council for pitch use, which Graeme (27) wants reimbursed.

He started the club last April to tackle antisocial behaviour issues, and said: “The government goes on about healthy lifestyles yet in reality Whitecross has nothing, not even a pitch a parent can let their children play at. Our village deserves better and I will not stop until the people of Whitecross get what they deserve. For too long we have been forgotten about as a community. If I need to go to Westminster I will - this has now become a personal crusade which I will not lose.”

Although the council have provided goals, and cut and lined the village’s only park, Graeme added it was unclear when proposed village regeneration plans from Morston Assets, including a new pitch, would happen. Until they become a reality, Graeme wants Falkirk Council to step in and repair the pitch, which floods in the bottom left hand corner when it rains.

Whitecross councillor John McLuckie said: “What Graeme Burnett is doing should be applauded - it is tremendous that he started a village football team. I am aware Morston Assets will be upgrading things long-term, but due to the economic situation, that could be years away. Falkirk Community Trust have said they will look into this.”

In an email to Graeme on November 15, Phil Hannah at Falkirk Community Trust said: “The problems with the pitch will be almost impossible to remedy cost effectively. The pitch is low lying and almost on the water table. The burn running alongside it doesn’t allow the pitch to drain and will almost certainly exasperate the problem especially when in spate.”

Phil added that a major drainage exercise would only work if the pitch was raised, but this could ‘move’ flooding problems to nearby homes. But Graeme has found a local drainage expert who believes the problem is coming from a broken drainage pipe, and who would repair it for free, if materials were provided. An online petition has been set up at www.ipetitions.com/petition/repair-the-football-pitch-and-play-area/ that Graeme will submit to the Scottish Parliament next year.