Reading FC Academy graduate Tom McIntyre was the star attraction as a new 3G facility in Wokingham was officially opened.
McIntyre – a regular in and around the Royals first team since making his debut in December 2018 – was at the Emmbrook School for the opening of the new venue and posed for photos with some of the young players showing off their skills, including members of Wokingham & Emmbrook’s under 7 Lions side.
It’s been a year of solid improvement in the footballing facilities within the borough with long running nomadic saga of the Sumas coming to an end at the start of the 2019/20 season when the club made Lowther Road their permanent home following the addition of floodlights, covered seating and hard standing at the ground.
Speaking to Football in Berkshire, Sumas chairman Steve Williams said: “The project for the Emmbrook Senior School 3G was started well over a year ago between Emmbrook School, Wokingham Borough Council, Berks & Bucks FA, Reading FC Community and two local Charter Standard Community Club partners – Wokingham & Emmbrook and Ashridge Park.
“It was virtually completed in December 2019 when we started training on the 3G. There is still a small amount of ancillary work to be completed which will be done in Spring when the weather improves.”
On the running of the new facility he said: “The school use it during the day, and have a priority obviously and then the two partner clubs share the facility outside school use from 6pm onwards.
“It is managed by WBC and we pay normal training and pitch fees to use the facility. Both clubs have signed up to a five year contract to support the use of the facility outside school use.”
‘Just round the corner’
The facility is located a short distance from the Sumas home ground. Williams said: “At WEFC we have over 56 teams, boys and girls from U7 – U18 and seniors and were running out of space for floodlit training as there were not enough facilities within Wokingham Borough to support all the local clubs.
“This facility has been a godsend for WEFC and Ashridge park (who have around 25-27 teams) and is full every night from 6pm onwards for football training, and for us, the major user, is it ‘just round the corner’ from our home ground.
Listen to Wokingham & Emmbrook President Mark Ashwell discuss the clubs heartbreaking departure from Finchampstead Road 20 years ago: