Whole new ball game as Croy sports pitch opens

From left: John McCol, a driving force behind the sports facility, Pat Johnstone of the Croy Historical Society and  Ross Higney (11) from Holy Cross Primary School. The old ball they are holding was the match ball from the Scottish Cup Final 1903/04 season, which saw Cekltic beat Rangers 3-2.
From left: John McCol, a driving force behind the sports facility, Pat Johnstone of the Croy Historical Society and Ross Higney (11) from Holy Cross Primary School. The old ball they are holding was the match ball from the Scottish Cup Final 1903/04 season, which saw Cekltic beat Rangers 3-2.

THE official opening of the new £1 million sports pitch and pavillion in Croy has taken place, with tributes being paid to the three men who campaigned for it.

Francis Griffin, James Hunt and John McColl led the fight for the facility to be built, but sadly both Francis and James passed away before they could see the project come to fruition.

Named the Antonine Sports Hub, the Constarry Road facility boasts a floodlit 3G synthetic pitch and a two-storey clubhouse with changing facilities.

John commented: “James, a community councillor for many years, and Francis, who served as a North Lanarkshire councillor would have been proud to see this magnificent facility open.

“Along with many others, they put in so much time and effort to realise their goal and I would like to thank North Lanarkshire Council and sportscotland for their support.”

Francis’ son Mark, who is now a MSP, added: “A sports facility like this has been long over due for young people in the area to enjoy.

“Over the last four years I have been honoured to continue the work my father and others started and it was a proud moment to see it finally open.”

The project has been partnership funded by North Lanarkshire Council, sportscotland, Aggregate Industries, Waste Recycling Environmental and the Kelvin Valley LEADER Rural Priorities Programme.

Already, 18 local community groups have signed up to use the facility, along with pupils and staff from nearby Holy Cross Primary.

The possibility of further adventure sports facilities being sited within the adjacent Croy quarry once contractors leave, and using the hub as a base, is also being investigated. Jim Logue, convener of learning and leisure services, said: “Hubs are about creating a more joined up approach to increasing participation in sport and physical activity.

“It’s part of our drive to get communities more active and make the most of facilities.

“This community partnership project has taken considerable time and effort to bring to fruition, but it’s been well worth it.

“The Antonine facility will act as a focus for multi-sport activity, outdoor pursuits and links with sports clubs in schools.”

Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, added: “Our aim is to work with local partners to deliver more and better opportunities for people to take part in sport.

“We invested over £435,600 into this project at Croy as we recognised the impact that a well-designed facility could make on the lives of the local community, providing a home for a number of clubs and sports.”