Oakham United finally have a home to call their own

New Oakham United ground EMN-140625-090727001
New Oakham United ground EMN-140625-090727001

Oakham United manager Wayne Oldaker has been talking about a revolution taking place at the club since he took the reins early last season and this month a big leap in the club’s progress took place with the move to their new ground.

Oldaker helped steer the team from bottom of the league to a respectable 11th place and is looking to kick on next season.

Away from the pitch, big changes have also taken place with the club’s committee working with Rutland County Council to relocate the club from the playing fields at the back of Catmose College to a new purpose-built facility on Main Street, Barleythorpe, just on the edge of Oakham.

The new location includes a clubhouse, changing rooms, a floodlit pitch and a second fully-drained pitch.

Oakham United vice-chairman Andy Saddington said: “It is a lovely setting and a terrific place to play football.

“You can’t move the club forward without the facility. Unless you have the facility in place you can win the league but not move up. We are now in a position where that is not a worry.”

The new pitch has yet to host a competitive fixture on it but the seniors are already into pre-season training.

The move has been a long time in the making, with at least seven years of hard work behind the scenes taking place to make it all possible since Oakham Imperial amalgamated with Rutland Rangers.

The club now has two senior sides playing the Peterborough and District Football League, with the first team in the PDFL Premier and reserves playing in the PDFL Division Two - and there are plans for bigger things to come.

Oakham will also be running a veterans team for over-35s next year, playing in the PDFL Veterans league.

It is intended that most of the games will be played under the new floodlights at Barleythorpe on Wednesdays.

Further down the road there are also plans to run a women’s team.

Saddington said the club is also trying to forge stronger links with youth football set-up Royce Rangers to keep talent in the town.

He said, in the past, players felt they had to leave the town to play decent standard football but the club wants to prevent that talent drain. The new facilities are a big step in the right direction.

Saddington said: “It is not just for Oakham United. It is a footballing facility for the whole of Oakham and the surrounding villages and as long as it is available we will rent it out to people to use.”

The club are also holding a reunion event for anyone who has been involved with football in Oakham on Saturday from 6pm.

Club general manager Tony Nelson said: “We invite anyone to come along who has played, coached, managed, or just supported football in Oakham since the war.”

Anyone interested in joining the veterans side should call Pat Johnson on 07500 333256.