Thursday 11th August 2005

Fleet fans given boost for Exeter opener


Gravesend & Northfleet fans have been given a boost ahead of their Nationwide Conference opener against Exeter City at Stonebridge Road on Saturday, writes Stephen McCartney.

The first phase of work has begun at the Plough End of the stadium.

If all goes according to plan and permission from the safety authourites is granted it will mean that a small section of the stand will be open for this Saturday's opening fixture of the season against Exeter City.

The work involves an infill of concrete from the pitch boundary wall back to the third row of existing terracing.

A flat area will be created and will allow restricted standing for up to 300 spectators.  

The infill of concrete will of course reduce the height of the boundary wall on the stand side so a temporary railing/barrier will need to be erected in order to meet safety criteria.

It is planned to build further terracing over the next few weeks that will extend to about halfway back into the stand and this will increase capacity to 800 souls. The clubs total ground capacity will then be increased to in excess of 5000 souls.

All works of this type have to meet the criteria of "The Green Guide", which is football's bible to health and safety at all stadiums in the country.

A statement on the club's website added: "Due to the nature and age of our beloved Stonebridge Road stadium we are constantly facing problems with meeting the very strict criteria laid down in the guide.

"For example if we were to build terracing laid down dimensions right to the back of the stand, those at the back would be hitting their heads on the roof.  

"You can see from this example that whilst the work that we are undertaking may not be ideal, we have little choice under the circumstances.

"I am sure you will agree that it is far better to have restricted access to the Plough End than no access at all."

The Fleet then travel to Grays Athletic the following Tuesday, and fans will be able to enjoy a drink in comfort at Canvey Island on August 20th.

Canvey Island are putting the finishing touches to a new building at their Park Lane ground, which will allow away fans to enjoy a pre-match drink and relax in comfortable surroundings before and after each game.

A selection of rolls/sandwiches, pies and light snacks will also be available.  Prices will be no different to the home clubhouse, which is generally cheaper than the local pubs.

Meanwhile, Gravesend & Northfleet's Ladies pre-season got underway last Sunday with a tough friendly against higher league placed opposition in Crystal Palace Ladies Reserves.

Fleet manager Valter Antunes was pleased that he had a large squad to take into this match and used the opportunity to look at all players, rotating the squad throughout the match, to give all players an opportunity for an early season run out.

Debuts for new players included midfielder Becky Merritt and striker Sarah White and returning to the squad after a seasons break were Kelly Gell and Kim Carey.

"Although we lost 2-1, this was a pleasing result for their first match and provided the team with valuable match play and competitive experience as the new season fast approaches," said Fleet's Tina Martin.

Zoe Morell opened her seasons account, scoring the only goal for Fleet

The ladies team travel to Dagenham & Redbridge tonight.  After that exciting news for the weekend in the teams warm up continue, as continued development and partnership working between the ladies team and the men's club at Gravesend & Northfleet, the Fleet Ladies will play at Stonebridge Road on Sunday (2pm) when they tackle local rivals, Gillingham Ladies FC in another friendly.

For more information on the team please visit the website www.intheteam.com/gravesendladiesfc or contact Tina Martin 07732148011.


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