Pitch perfect as Hanover take major step towards Irish League dream

Hanover captain James Sergeant with the Bob Radcliffe Cup trophy in 2017. Also included are, back row from left, Steven Hyndes (manager), Dean Crowe (assistant manager) and Dean Wilson (team attendant), plus young fans Taylor Crowe (left) and Olly Hyndes.
Hanover captain James Sergeant with the Bob Radcliffe Cup trophy in 2017. Also included are, back row from left, Steven Hyndes (manager), Dean Crowe (assistant manager) and Dean Wilson (team attendant), plus young fans Taylor Crowe (left) and Olly Hyndes.
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Hanover’s dream of Irish League football at Brownstown Park has gained a significant step with the Mid-Ulster club securing control of the home arena.

The culmination of a four-year process has led to Hanover now enjoying full ownership of the pitch - as a result increasing the opportunity for long-term development that could ultimately include progress up to Irish League level.

The initial 21-year lease hands Hanover responsibility for everything within the perimeter fence, including the running track and changing rooms.

It is a logistic challenge that Hanover assistant manager and club secretary Dean Crowe considers an achievement, given the potential for future growth, greater than the on-the-field trophy haul of four titles inside two seasons.

Provisional plans on the club agenda include the search for funding alongside existing sponsorship support towards an increase in the perimeter fence size and introduction of a 50-seater stand in line with third-tier Irish League requirements.

“The initial meeting with the council dates back around four years and it is a massive boost for everyone at the club to finally have that ownership,” said Crowe. “The process involved a lot of hard work by people, inside the club volunteering hours behind the scenes plus support from those in the community, to get to this stage but it has now created so many wonderful opportunities.

“Our business plan ran to something like 265 pages and we’ve had to obviously factor in areas such as sponsorship, accounts, facility development and various other aspects to prove successful.

“Our initial idea was to have something in place to protect our Intermediate status within the Mid-Ulster Football League but we also have long-term ambitions and ownership now puts us in a position to move forward when the timing is right and everything is in place.

“With increased success in recent seasons on the pitch we were determined not to allow everything to fold under us off the field.

“In terms of the immediate issues, there are commitments from 30 pitchside sponsors and we now handle maintenance of the pitch so have purchased a lawnmower.

“People on the committee have been assigned various roles such as lining the pitch, handling the nets and looking after our own booking system for outside hiring of the pitch or running track.

“Everything will develop as we go along but it is exciting to be in this position for a club that celebrated our 50th anniversary a few years back.

“It is the start of an exciting era but the hard work must continue to build on this point.”

Evidence of Hanover’s commitment to development is clear from the growth of the youth section to around 100 children since the 2016 inception.

“We put so much value in the importance of our youth development and to see those teams grow at grassroots level into competitive sides alongside more established clubs is so encouraging,” said Crowe. “We don’t want to be left behind but also appreciate timing is vital and everything must be in place to allow us to move forward in the right way with each future step.

“Certainly, our roots in the community remain crucial to the ethos of the club and that must never change.

“You see on our matchdays so many past players and young children from the area watching us play and irrespective of our level that remains the heart of Hanover.”