Players at an arson-hit rugby club in Walsall will celebrate the official opening of their new £350,000 clubhouse with a two-day event this weekend.
The new clubhouse at Aldridge Rugby Club boasts changing rooms, a meeting room, dining space, showers, toilets and a bar. It was built after a suspected arson attack which destroyed the premises, in Bourne Vale, four years ago.
Supporters and guest teams will flock to the site, off Little Hardwick Road, for the grand opening on Saturday, and a charity event in aid of Help for Heroes on Sunday, in recognition of the club members’ links with the armed forces.
Bosses at the club vowed to build a new clubhouse after the previous 52-year-old changing base and bar were destroyed in a blaze that also saw the loss of kits and equipment worth more than £5,000.
The official opening will be held at 12.30pm on Saturday and will be performed by long-serving club member Jim Chambers who helped to build the original clubhouse back in 1957. This will be followed by a rugby tournament featuring eight matches. There will be an auction, raffle, an inflatable castle, live music and a disco.
On Sunday, an act of remembrance will be held at midday followed by two matches featuring an Aldridge elite team and guests.
Club secretary Mike Halloran said: “We are absolutely delighted with our new premises. We are very grateful to various people who have helped us, including Sport England and the Rugby Football Union.
“The facilities are fantastic and everyone who visits, including our rival teams and referees, are delighted. Benefits have included attracting room hire bookings for family occasions from the public. We have hosted a school prom, christenings and a football team presentation.
“It has also had a good effect on player numbers with the closed training period attracting more than double the amount of members turning up in the off-season. We normally get to up to 15 turning up, but this year the figure has shot up to 30.
“The future is very positive for the club.” All the proceeds from Sunday’s event, which will also feature a barbecue and candy floss stand will go to Help for Heroes.