BOSSES at AFC Darwen has spent £90,000 revamping its ground in the hope of ‘getting the community involved’.
Since work began in July 2012, the clubhouse has been refurbished and facilities updated to make them fully accessible to disabled people.
The frontside of the building in Anchor Road has been demolished and rebuilt and turnstiles have been installed.
Access ramps, gates and disabled toilets will allow people with physical disabilities to much more easily navigate the ground.
Chairman Jack Lord said: “We’ve spent an awful lot of money on the improvements.
“It’s a bit of a gamble, but at the end of the day we want to get the community involved and we’ve made it a really nice place for local people to come.”
Before taking his role at Darwen AFC a year ago, Mr Lord worked managing deaf and mute sports clubs around Blackburn, and was heartened by the experience.
He said: “Disabled people are crying out for something to do on a Saturday afternoon and aren’t properly catered for.
“Things have improved a bit in sport since the Olympics but not as much as needs to happen and we want to play our part.”
Disabled people who attend matches will not be charged as long as they are accompanied by an able-bodied supporter.
Funds were raised for the project with donations from the club owners, Ken Langford Builders, committee members, Blackburn Rovers’ sponsor WEC Group and raffles, while Darwen Town Council lended logistical support.
Mr Lord said: “I brought all the committee members in last year and we all decided this was the right thing to do.
“It is very much a team effort on every level of the club.
“You can’t run something like this unless everyone does their own bit.
“It’s been a very big project. We did everything we could to raise the money.
“The final thing to go up is the floodlights. It’s going to look really nice when it’s all finished.”