Peel AFC opens fantastic new sports facility

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The doors of a community sports hall, which is dedicated to a footballer who died during the island’s Manx Grand Prix, opened its doors on Sunday.

Tommy’s Community Sports Hall is a brand new indoor third generation (3G) artificial grass pitch dedicated to Tommy Clucas.

Junior players try out the pitch at the opening of the Tommy Clucas Memorial Hall at Peel AFC

Junior players try out the pitch at the opening of the Tommy Clucas Memorial Hall at Peel AFC

Nine years to the day that Tom tragically lost his life, his mother Jean and family officially opened the much awaited sports hall.

On September 1, 2004, Tommy wrote himself into the motorcycling history books in the Isle of Man, when he became the first rider to break the 120mph average speed for a lap on the Mountain Course.

During the same race, and while leading on the last lap, he was killed when his engine seized, causing him to crash heavily on the approach to Ballaugh Bridge.

Chairman of the charity, Kelvin Dawson, said: ‘After Tom lost his life in the 2004 Junior MGP, a huge loss was felt in Peel.

‘We all knew that something had to be done to remember him, but obviously emotions were high.

‘The idea of the sports hall was raised, so we set about forming a charity in Tom’s name with the object of helping to promote sport and recreation in the community.’

The new sports hall boasts an indoor pitch measuring 40 metres by 25 metres, complete with LED lighting, which is believed to be the only one of its kind in the Isle of Man.

This will provide a safe and enjoyable playing environment that can facilitate a wide range of sports.

It will also ensure year-round availability for the whole community, in a coastal location where extreme weather conditions can often limit outdoor leisure participation.

Peel AFC will also stand to benefit from the project, whose 13 teams– from Mini-Soccer to seniors – will use the new artificial grass pitch for training.

The Tommy Clucas Memorial Fund, formed by players and members of the club, together with friends and family of Tommy, raised the funds to build the facility.

Since it formed in 2005, the fund raised more than £400,000 to cover the cost of the hall, which is next to the Douglas Road clubhouse.

The sum raised included a grant from the Football Foundation of just under £100,000, £45,000 from the Manx Lottery Trust, £60,000 from the Lord Cockfield Memorial Trust, £60,000 from a Peel based charitable trust, £20,000 from The Gough Ritchie Charitable Trust and £15,000 from a private Peel-based donor.

The charity also organised various fundraising efforts, focussing on community events including the extremely popular Peelstock music festival.

Further donations of money, time, equipment and services from local companies, groups and individuals were also instrumental in the success of the project.

Kelvin added: ‘The charity would like to thank everyone for not putting the phone down on our countless calls for help, responding to the many emails and taking time for the various meetings where, after a lot of head-scratching, answers were eventually found to bypass the many obstacles that were in our path along the way.

‘Everyone should be very proud of themselves that they were prepared to help and jump on board our idea of building a facility that will benefit so many.’ At the Peel Town Commissioners public meeting on Tuesday, chairman Ray Harmer congratulated all those involved on the opening of the sports hall.

Mr Harmer acknowledged the hard work of all the community, who came together to raise the funds.

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