A new block of changing rooms is the latest in a series of improvements due to be carried out by Hadley Football Club in a continuing upgrade of their ground at Brickfield Lane, Arkley.
A floodlit Astro turf all-weather training pitch was added last year, and planning permission has now been obtained from Barnet Council for new changing facilities.
But while development of the club’s facilities is going from strength to strength it is a more challenging time on the pitch this season as Hadley mount a fightback to get clear of the relegation zone.
If -- as the club hopes -- their grant application is approved by the Football Foundation, work on the single-storey block should start early next year ready for use next autumn at the start of the 2024-5 season.
“We will be able to offer visiting teams and especially mixed groups of match officials, the kind of facilities that clubs at our level are expected to provide,” said Hadley FC spokesman Oliver Deed (above left)
The new changing rooms, which are likely to cost around £100,000, will be built between the football stadium and the next-door premises of Arkley Village Hall.
Mr Deed said this was a much better location than the existing changing facilities as they would be further away from neighbouring houses in Brickfield Lane.
Arkley became the permanent home of Hadley FC – which was established in 1882 and is the oldest football club playing in Barnet – in 2016, on the completion of an extensive £500,000 upgrade of the ground, on which the club had previously secured a long-term lease.
Hadley has been building up a loyal band of supporters. Seven years ago, on their return to Arkley, the average attendance was 30 but Hadley now gets a regular gate of 170 to 180 fans.
Success on the pitch followed in the wake of the improved facilities and having won promotion, Hadley finished last season in ninth place in Southern League Division One Centre (the fourth step in the National League system).
The 2023-4 season is proving a greater challenge: Hadley’s pre-Christmas match (23.12.2023) was a home fixture against Stotfold, and with the club trailing second from bottom in the league table, a positive result was needed.
Hadley won 2-1, with goals from Peter Rosemin and Germaine Dua, collecting three badly needed points.
“Clearly we are not comfortable where we are at present in the league table, but we are confident we will get clear of the relegation zone,” said Mr Deed.
“We have not been taking our chances in front of goal, and we have conceded a few too many goals but there are another 20 fixtures ahead of us this season and while not complacent we are sure we can climb back up the table.”
Hadley’s recent success has attracted some of the former fans of Barnet Football Club, especially when Barnet has away fixtures from its current home ground at The Hive, Edgware.
One former long-standing Barnet supporter Tony Swingler (see above right), who still mourns the demolition of the Underhill stadium after Barnet moved to The Hive in 2018, has been a loyal Hadley supporter for the last four years.
“I like watching a football club that is connected to the local community. It is nice to get involved and come along to local matches, especially when you know so many of the regulars.”
Mr Swingler attended his first match at Underhill at the age of 14 in 1966.
On New Year’s Day Hadley are away to Welwyn Garden City followed by three home matches against Thame United (6.1.2024); Waltham Abbey (13.1.2024); and North Leigh (15.1.2024).
These will all be high profile games against, especially against Waltham Abbey and North Leigh which are well placed in the table.
“We are up against some stiff competition,” said Mr Deed. “Clubs like Bedford Town and Biggleswade Town are far better financed than Hadley and that is reflected in the match fees they can pay and their ability to attract players from higher levels.”