Gayton’s Lime Kiln Road home, which has been devastated by crows.

We are homeless.

If it wasn’t for Runcton Holme allowing us to temporarily play our first and reserve-team games there, Gayton United would be without a pitch.

“Home” games at King’s Lynn’s River Lane and Kingsway got us through a couple of weeks but put a serious dent in our already stretched finances. And there’s no sign of things getting better anytime soon either. For the best part of a month the club I now call home have been unable to open their own doors to opponents across the county. But it’s certainly not through the want of trying.

Since early August committee members, managers, players, including myself, and volunteers have tried to rectify a pitch that’s been ripped apart by hungry crows trying to feast on chafer bugs, a beetle that lives in soil and feeds on grassroots. Yet there’s only so much a band of unskilled volunteers can do.

Advice, and a wide variety of it, has been offered. However, the damage is now too substantial to host matches at a venue that may never have been deemed the greatest by many, but still proudly hosts Anglian Combination football thanks to the facilities it can still provide.

An emergency general meeting at the village’s social club saw key figures vote for the 13.5-mile move – cough, as the crow flies – to keep the first and reserve sides’ seasons going. Thankfully the A-team already have a pitch at Castle Rising and need to offer fewer facilities, so to speak, as a result of playing in the North West Norfolk League rather than the Ang Com.

Unlike Terrington – who I spent 15 years playing for – Gayton does not have the benefit of playing on a parish council-owned and maintained field/pitch. Nor does the club have any youth or women’s teams linked to it, a guaranteed vital source of income and helpers. Those facts make the already difficult access to financial grants from football’s authorities almost impossible.

The pitch belongs to the estate owned by Lord Romsey, so it’s not quite as simple as building new changing rooms – which are badly needed – either. Not that there’s the money to do it. 

Put simply, for years Gayton have been punching above their weight. They’re one of the area’s highest-ranked football clubs and my only disappointment is I’ve arrived in what’s likely to be my final season as an 11-a-side player. 

It’s a proud club steeped in history and surrounded by outstanding people on and off the pitch. Yet there’s only so much they (well we) can do.

Financial support from a variety of companies, including Adrian Flux, is hugely appreciated but ultimately needed. And with more than £2,000 needed to secure a professional pitch solution, further funds, expertise and help is required. Players and committee members keep digging into their free time and pockets. But we need more help than we ever have done to get us back home as quickly as we can.

If you can help in any way, please email nickmalby@live.co.uk or call 0797 3223465.

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