MIDLETON FC are about to launch a major development plan which they hope will in some way cater for the huge demands on their existing facilities at Knockgriffin Park.
With over 700 playing members and 31 teams, soccer has never been more popular in the East Cork town, but this causes its own major headaches.
As a result, the club has taken the decision to turn it's second playing pitch at Knockgriffin Park into a full-size 3G fenced-in floodlit pitch. It is hoped in some way, this can assist in catering for the massive demands of the playing population that stretches all the way from U5 up to the Munster Senior League team.
Long-serving club chairman Mick Kirby takes up the story.
"It's hugely disappointing for us that this season we turned away young players who want to join our Academy, because quite simply we don't have enough space, despite the fact that we have three existing five-a-side pitches.
"Unfortunately issues with planning permission halted our recent plans to purchase additional land which would have seen us develop a number of full-size pitches, next to Knockgriffin Park. Currently of our 31 teams, 12 of them have to train on hired facilities, resulting in a cost of €12,000 annually."
Already the club has seen of over €1 million invested to make Knockgriffin Park into one the top facilities of its kind in the country, but now more finance is urgently needed to cater for an unprecedented growth spurt which has seen an increase of over 40 percent in the club's playing numbers in the past five years.
Estimated cost of the new 3G pitch is in the region of €550,000, meaning a massive fundraising drive will be required. Club officers are targeting €100,000 to be raised over the next 18 months, with grant aid and a bank loan hopefully generating the balance.
A trip to the well appointed venue on the outskirts of Midleton town instantly tells the story of a vibrant club, however the harsh reality is that Midleton FC needs a rapid extension of their existing facilities. In the months ahead, the club will sincerely hope that they get the necessary financial backing in order to further enhance the magnificent work that has been completed over the past few decades.
On the playing field the club's flagship team in the MSL Premier Division have made a very solid start to the season under team manager John Ryan, with two wins recorded from theri first three games. The impact of a number of pre-season signings suggests a promising campaign lies ahead for the Magpies.