Stamford AFC’s stadium may not be ready for new season

Stamford AFC fans watch on at the Vic Couzens Stadium

Stamford AFC fans watch on at the Vic Couzens Stadium

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Stamford AFC could begin next season at its current ground while a new £5.5m stadium is completed.

Previous reports suggested the Daniels would move to a new home off Ryhall Road for the start of the 2014/15 Evo-Stick Northern Premier season.

But the first team may have to play some league fixtures at the Vic Couzens Stadium in Kettering Road before the official handover.

Club director Guy Walton said the new stadium was due to be handed over on September 1, after which games would be played there.

The Ryhall Road stadium is part of a joint venture between the club, New College Stamford and Burghley Estates, which owns the land.

The Daniels’ new ground will be part of a sports complex, including artificial training pitches, classrooms and a sports hall.

The move to Ryhall Road will be a historic moment for the club, which has been based in Kettering Road since its formation in 1886.

Facilities at the ground remained largely unchanged for decades, until an upgrade in the late 1990s. New perimeter fencing, turnstiles, seating and a walkway were added to bring the ground up to league standards.

But the club realised a change was needed and in March 2011 plans for a new 1,500-seater stadium on land off Ryhall Road were revealed.

The initial plans were shelved in favour of the joint football ground and sports centre. And despite some protests from nearby residents, the plans were approved in March last year.

Work on the new ground is now well underway. A sponsorship deal has been struck with Zeeco Europe Ltd, based off the A1 at Woolfox. And the club hopes to host several friendly matches ahead of the first league game there next season.

The Daniels face Blyth Spartans at 3pm tomorrow (Saturday) in the last of this season’s Evo-Stick Northern Premier fixtures. The club will then host a charity game on Saturday, May 10, when some of the biggest names in the history of the club will be gracing the Vic Couzens Stadium pitch once again.

A team of Stamford Legends will go up against a selection of Stamford All Stars to raise funds for the Daniels Foundation and Cancer Research.

Leading the Legends will be Malcolm Hird, who skippered the Daniels to Wembley in the 1976 FA Vase Final loss to Billericay Town. In charge of the All Stars is lifelong Daniels fan Gary Hopkins.

The game kicks off at 5pm and supporters are encouraged to stay afterwards to watch the season’s annual presentation ceremony.

Admission to the charity match is £5 for adults and £2 for children.