Armoy Rugby Club are about to embark on a massive re-development programme of Lime Park which will see the County Antrim club the envy of many
Armoy Rugby Club started in 1975 when they played on an ordinary grass fields before moving in 1980 to their current home at the Lime Park.
Over the years the club has experienced many triumphs. The most recent was when they won the Ulster Minor League North two years running between 2010 and 2012, remaining unbeaten in the league on the first occasion.
However, there’s a renewed air of optimism at Lime Park these days not only because of the 40th anniversary the club celebrated last season but also due to the fact that the club is embarking on one of the most significant changes in its history.
The adventurous plans go before the Causeway Coast and Glens committee on Wednesday night to be rubber stamped, getting the major £3 million re-development including replacing the clubhouse, a floodlit 3G training facility, the upgrading of the exisiting pitches including floodlights, a trimtrail and associated car parking and acess upgrade underway.
These top drawer facilities will not solely be for the use of the rugby club and its members, the intention is that they will be available to the entire community in Armoy, something the club is very proud of.
Work has already commenced on one of the pitches as Club member Gareth Christie explained:
“When we first started talking about this project we worked alongside a consultant called Tony Morrison and at that time Sport NI were providing some grants. We were in the top three for the grants and when we were assessed they said we didn’t need changing rooms, we deserved them!
“Then the Sporting NI money went off the scene and it started to be allocated more to schools, however, it is now back on the scene again and it seems that the grants will be available again in three weeks.”
With playable pitches a priorty for the rugby club, the Lime Park men have already pushed on with some of the work.
“When the weather is bad our pitches become too wet and unplayable and that made the work on them a priority. We have one pitch drained which cost £100,000. We received £50,000 from the council for that but we need another £50,000 and I’m not sure where that will come from. When we applied for the grant from the council it was the first time every councillor in Moyle was in agreement.
“Within the plans we have submitted, are those for a new clubhouse which will have a gym, four changing rooms and a function room. The plan is to demolish the existing clubhouse and build the new one which will be substantial in comparison to the old one and will cost in the region of £1 million. However, as brilliant as that sounds the next project we will be starting work on will be the changing rooms as that is one of our main priortities.
“We are also very keen to push on with the 3G pitch. We did a ‘needs must’ survey within the area and there is nothing like that anywhere near us. The closest one would be in Ballymoney. There is a real need for it and taking the fact it can be used all year round, especially when the weather conditions are adverse, we will be able to rent it out and generate revenue for the club from it.
“The dream would be that this time next year Armoy Rugby Club will be sitting with a floodlit 3G pitch, two re-drained pitches, one with floodlights, changing rooms and the new clubhouse however, in reality if we have the changing rooms completed, the 3G picth and one pitch drained and lit we would be happy and can move forward from there.
“Things are going really well at Armoy. We have a new Mini rugby section, which started in August and we have 71 children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old registered and playing most Saturdays. So getting the pitch and changing rooms finished is vital now we have so many youngsters involved at the club.
“We did the Biggest Loser last Easter and it was a massive success and we are planning on doing that again in 2016. It is such a brilliant event and it brings all the local community together and that’s very much what Armoy Rugby Club is about.”
This Saturday Armoy First XV take on Rainey Old Boys in the league at Lime Park with a 2.30pm kick-off. Gareth Christie and his team mates will be hoping to break the recent run of losses and go into the festive period with a home win.