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Football teams from eight countries in next year’s Olympics will be doing their training on pitches as good as the Emirates… right here at Long Lane. They’ll be turning into our famous little lane in Dursley Road, in the latest chapter of the amazing 30-year history of our Club.
I’m extremely proud to announce that Long Lane has been chosen from a number of potential sites as a 2012 Official Football Training venue for some of the best athletes in the world who will take part in the games. The latest adventure started with a call out of the blue from the London Organizing Committee of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). They said they were looking at sites for a training venue for footballing nations taking part in the games. The footballers will stay in the Olympic village and be brought to the ground each day for training.
The timing was perfect as our new grass pitches had just been completed. LOCOG members inspected the ground, taking photographs etc., which was then followed by visits from the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) who maintain all the Olympic outdoor events. They said it was the best site they had seen but were concerned about lack of any irrigation. As you may know, spiralling costs had prevented the club from installing a much needed sprinkler system.
However the next visit was from FIFA, who loved the feel of the club, and said that they wanted to use Long Lane as an official training venue, but only on the basis that an irrigation system was installed. They felt this would be needed to bring the pitches up to Olympic standards. With this the Club would end up with pitches as good as those at the Emirates, Arsenal’s stadium, because we were told this is what the players would expect.
Club officials were then called over to Canary Wharf and the headquarters of LOCOG, who after receiving a report from FIFA, offered the club the contract to become an Olympic Training Venue. As part of their legacy to the Club plans were announced to install a full irrigation system on the lower part of the ground. The prospect of being part of the Olympics and having some of the world’s best footballer’s training here at Long Lane will mark the start of another wonderful period for the club. The only disappointment will be that the Olympic training will take place behind closed doors, but the legacy they leave, and being part of the Olympics, will be a once in a life time experience and another unforgettable memory that will stay in the Clubs history forever.
To round off another wonderful year the London FA have named Long Lane JFC as its South East & Regional Community Club of the Year, the fifth time in 8 years that the Club has won the award. Top this with our return to the ground, the long awaited opportunity to play on our new pitches and the opening of our redecorated Club House and you begin to see that all our hard work is beginning to take shape and that this could be our best ever season. No better time to wear the famous blue & black!