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Sir Alex Ferguson Opens Altrincham Community Sports Hall

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Altrincham's latest ambitious initiative by officially opening their eye-catching new Community Sports Hall at the J.Davidson Stadium.

The presence of one of the most revered figures in world football was hailed by Alty chairman Grahame Rowley as an 'entirely fitting' way of launching a facility that has already attracted glowing praise since it was completed shortly before Christmas.

Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex was shown round by Rowley before unveiling a commemorative plaque, to declare the hall officially open, and wishing Alty continuing success, both in the Vanarama Conference and in their ever-expanding community endeavours.

Sir Alex Ferguson CBE, said: "This new community sports hall at Altrincham F.C. is going to be an invaluable resource for the club and community for years to come. It will provide opportunities for children and adults to get involved in sport regardless of the weather. The hall also doubles to cater for match day hospitality, which will act as a springboard for the club to grow commercially.

"The money to make all this possible has come from the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund, which is delivered by the Football Foundation and funded by the Premier League, The F.A. and the Government, through

Sport England. That is a strong and important partnership as every footballer ultimately starts out at the grassroots.

"This sort of project is the perfect example of how the Football Foundation is working with its Funders to provide football clubs with facilities that get more people playing sport, support football clubs' excellent community outreach work and create talent pathways through which promising youngsters can progress."

Sir Alex originally consented to do the honours last month but had to withdraw after it transpired he would be out of the country on other business. He kindly gave his blessing to a rearranged date of February 9th to leave Alty bosses elated at such a major coup for their hugely-impressive, multi-purpose single-storey building.

"We are extremely grateful to Sir Alex for his kindness and consideration in agreeing to a new date," said Rowley. 'It means a lot to us, and it is a fantastic gesture on his part, given the demands on his time, both at home and abroad.

"There was much debate about who should conduct the opening ceremony, but you simply cannot get a bigger name anywhere in football than Sir Alex Ferguson. We couldn't possibly have wished for anything or anyone better.

"To have someone of his standing and world renown attending The J.Davidson Stadium and opening what we believe is a very prestigious facility in the Trafford Borough is entirely fitting. It is the perfect culmination of so much hard work and dedication by a lot of people.

"It was with the help of (former United chief executive) David Gill that we managed to secure the services of Sir Alex. David was a regular visitor when United's Reserves used to play at our ground, and he has occasionally come along to watch us, when his busy schedule has permitted. We are grateful to him, as well."

The drive to try and fund building costs estimated at around £750,000 began in earnest in October, 2013, following planning permission and overwhelming support from local residents and councillors.

Grants from various organisations, most notably the Premier League, FA Facilities Fund and Football Stadia Improvement Fund,were augmented by contributions from individuals and businesses, and Alty were finally helped over the line by a gesture from supporters that amply illustrated how the project has been embraced by everyone connected with the club.

An appeal went out for a final £10,000, to enable the main hall to be fitted with widescreen television screens and the latest in sound technology. Within a matter of weeks, it was oversubscribed with supporters pledging £100 each and sending the total beyond the £10,000 target.

"It was heart-warming to see that, and it really underlined how enthusiastically the hall has been received," added Rowley. "The club are extremely thankful to everyone who has played a part in bringing what was an ambitious and forward-thinking idea to fruition. It is a facility that will benefit the community as a whole and encourage people of all ages to become active and involved in all sports, not just football.

"The hall will provide a real community hub. It will be a great facility, for use throughout the week as well as on match days. It really is something we can all feel rightly proud of."

As an indication of the hall's versatility, former United, Southampton, Stoke and Alty defender Danny Higginbotham is guest speaker at a dinner there on Friday, February 27th, while it can also host a range of activities from after-school clubs, disabled groups and ballroom dancing to yoga, martial arts, indoor bowls and badminton.

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