Less is more when the quality is high

8th October 2004 at 01:00
Dalziel High in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, has never been badly off in terms of sports facilities, even if they are remote from the school at Dalziel Park Estate. The former Cleland Estate had 14 sports pitches, for football, rugby and hockey, as well as an ash athletics track.

From 192 acres, the estate now has 30 acres of sports facilities but what has been lost in quantity of land, has been made up for in quality.

Owned by the Dalziel High War Memorial Trust, work began in 1993 to transform the facilities, raising money through selling land for private housing. Now there are three grass rugby pitches (all floodlit), three grass football pitches (one floodlit, one with a running track around it), two all-weather football or hockey pitches, three five-a-side football pitches and an indoor sports barn. A land drainage system has been installed, as has a 300-400 seat grandstand and a clubhouse is near completion.

Brian Miller, headteacher at Dalziel High for more than 14 years, is proud of the transformation, which has given the school sports facilities that are second to none in Scotland. He says it has been a long, slow process to reach fruition but the end result has exceeded expectation, encouraging widespread community use.

"The problem in the past was that the pitches were spread all over the place and they had poor drainage and were very difficult to maintain," he explains. "There was a lot of scepticism and cynicism around when the plan was first talked about and not many people believed it could be done.

"There was a small bit of opposition at the time but it was from the old-timers who had their memories wrapped up in the old Cleland Estate and did not want to see anything change. But no one would have believed what it has become.

"Motherwell Football Club use it as their training centre, Lanarkshire football referees use it, North Lanarkshire Council use it as a base, Hibernian Football Club have their west of Scotland training academy there and Motherwell Cricket Club now play there," Mr Miller continues.

"It has wide community use and the former pupils' clubs have never been stronger with four football teams, four rugby teams, three men's hockey teams and a women's hockey team.

"If you go on a Sunday, you will see 300-400 boys and girls playing mini or midi rugby. It's just a fantastic development."

Physical education teacher Lorna Dyett has experienced both the new and the old, having attended Dalziel High as a pupil, and knows the pupils are fortunate to have such a facility.

"It's like night and day compared to what it used to be.

"There were eight football pitches, three rugby and three hockey pitches but the quality of them all was poor. I remember well playing on the old hockey pitches," she says.

"Now, the facilities are superb and the pitches are used every Saturday and Sunday and also every night of the week."

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