Cadishead Rhinos rugby club are set for a huge revamp of their home clubhouse with a £150,000 cash injection from the National Lottery.
The 1960s former local authority centre at Cadishead Recreation Ground on Lords Street has been home to the Rhinos since the mid 1990s but has never really been fit for purpose.
Despite this the club have gone from strength to strength, attracting large numbers of juniors to their ever-expanding roster.
The grant will help breathe new life into the tired structure and give the long-running club a huge boost for future expansion.
Councillor Jimmy Hunt, who represents Cadishead, said: “This is absolutely fabulous news for Cadishead Rhinos.
“Between the club and the council the bid went in just before Christmas 2015, so it’s wonderful to hear the good news.
“This will be a great boost to Cadishead in general and will allow the Rhinos to engage even more with the local community.”
Way back in 1993, a group of local players including Mike Owen, Darren Broadstock, Eddie Dean and Rob Young wanted to form their own rugby league team.
The only side locally was Irlam Hornets but the lads wanted their own Cadishead team. So the Rhinos were born.
After a season of friendlies in they entered the North West Counties League Division 6 playing as Cadishead George, moving from Culcheth to their current home at Cadishead Recreation Centre on Lord’s Street.
In 1997 the team moved away from its original base at the George hotel and renamed Cadishead Rhinos.
Success came when uncomprimising ex-player Paul Finch took over coaching duties in 1998; by 2003 with Paul Elliot as captain the Rhinos took Division 6 by storm, winning all but one league game to clinch the title and promotion. The next season Cadishead doubled their promotion by finishing third in Division 5.
After seven successful seasons Paul Finch stepped down to be replaced as coach by Paul Elliott, who remains in control.
With membership numbers increasing rapidly, especially in the junior section, the Rhinos were placed in Division 2 of the the newly-formed North West Men’s League.
The open age side struggled to regain prominence while the juniors surged forward – in 2013 the Under 14s finished Division 3 champions.
For the future the club will field sides at Under 18s, Under 15s, Under 13s, and Under 11s, with plans to continue to develop the Under 9s, Under 7s and Cubs sides.
Coach Paul Elliott said: “The clubhouse is pretty grim and it’s not a nice matchday experience for parents, players or visitors.
“The toilets, communal areas and changing rooms are too small: it’s tired, cold, and run-down.
“We’re hoping that the new build will help attract and retain new players, give us better facilities for girls and ladies teams, and allow us to hold local rugby festivals and engage with local schools.”
£150,000 comes from the National Lottery’s Inspired Facilities scheme, designed to give a cash boost to some of England’s most in-need clubs.
Nine north west projects share £660,000 in this payout, including golf and cricket clubs in Bolton, Stockport and Sale.
A spokesperson for the National Lottery said: “The money announced today will build a new clubhouse, which will cater not only for the club but also function as a social hub.
“Large changing rooms with proper disabled facilities will feature in the new build, ensuring that men, women and children of all level and abilities can all have a first rate experience.”
The clubhouse is expected to be completed by early next year.
Main image by Marrisa Chaplin