- Riverside FC in Bridge of Allan was severely affected by the winter flooding of last year.
- Their pavilion was flooded, despite the fact it sits 6-8 feet above the pitches.
- Club now seriously considering the option of relocating according to Ian.
In the winter of 2015 not only was Scotland inundated with stormy weather, but the floodwater that followed found its way to affect the beautiful game too. Carlisle United's ground was flooded beyond recognition, while Riverside FC in Bridge of Allan had a similar experience. YFS sat down with Chairman Ian Anderson.
Q: The club was hit by flooding after Storm Desmond battered Scotland, what was it like to see the weather close in knowing the club would be affected?
Ian Anderson: Knowing the issue we have with the Allan Water we are always on alert when the forecast is for prolonged heavy rain. Generally we try to rearrange games as early as possible but very often alternative pitches are already full and games have to be postponed.
Q: How was the club affected by the recent floods?
IA: Games were postponed and the pavilion was flooded, with loads of silt deposited up the walls despite the fact the pavilion sits 6-8 feet above the pitches. Our office was flooded. Our car park at the site is in poor repair too and the flood water has done further damage to the surface
Q: How high did the water rise? What damage was done to the pavilion?
IA: We have had this happen previously so do what we can to minimise damage. The pavilion is concrete floors and block walls so no permanent structural damage was done on this occasion, but the carpet in the office may have to be replaced. The container where we keep our goalposts and training kit was also flooded but nothing was permanently damaged – it just created a mess.
Q: What does this mean for the club going forward?
IA: For the club going forward we need to think seriously if we should relocate and, if so, where we could go. We had an option to take a long term lease at Haws Park, but to do that we would also have to take responsibility for all of the costs of repair to the pitches and pavilion for any damage arising, in addition to the running costs of the facility. That would include repairing flood damage, which is potentially open ended, and as a not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, we just cannot take on that potential liability. The alternative financial model for using the Haws Park facility is that our youth teams pay £250 per annum to the Council and around £25 per game, while adult teams pay £400 pa and around £35 per game. This is not value for money for us at the moment - flooding events do seem to be happening more often, and we will also struggle to use the pitches in January / February if there is a prolonged cold spell with frozen ground. One alternative that we try to use is to book local 3G pitches – but this is expensive and there is a lot of demand for these pitches due to the number of teams in the Stirling area. Our Under 19s that I am involved with has paid its annual fee and we have only managed to play 1 home game at Haws Park. Could we afford to play all games on 3G? - probably not. The Club Committee is discussing the future of the club and our home location regularly but there will be no easy answer.
Q: What work-around solutions have the club created to get around the flooding?
IA: The only work around we can have is to try and forecast in advance and book 3Gs where possible. We do make use of the local 3G parks for matches, but these are expensive when added alongside the costs of midweek training sessions on these facilities. Funding teams is an ongoing problem.
Q: Has the community rallied around the club?
IA: Riverside were originally formed in the Riverside area of Stirling in 1989. We later relocated to The Kings park pitches but about 10 years ago we got the chance to relocate to Bridge of Allan. The town is not large and many of our players are from surrounding areas. We are trying to develop our links with all of the local schools and also provide regular updates to the Community Council. They have been very supportive and this is greatly appreciated. One of our challenges is to try and embed the Club further into the Community and hopefully through that we will be able to get some additional financial support through sponsorship. I was brought up in Bridge of Allan and the local team was Strathallan Hawthorn. In those days quite large crowds attended games but I do realise that things have changed.
Q: What is the club doing to protect itself against future flooding?
IA: There is nothing we can do other than keep our office materials and training equipment above the flood line – our pitches are on the flood plain for the Allan Water and the cost of stopping it flooding would be considerable. When the river floods it can be half a mile wide from Cornton Road accross to the railway line.
Q: If anyone would like to help, how can they?
IA: There is little that can be done to stop the river flooding, although we do believe there will be some community council led work in spring 2016 to clear some of the vegetation from local burns feeding the river, which may help to allow flood water to dissipate more quickly. The car park surface is a real issue, with major potholes and related damage to cars using it, so we will need to find a solution to get this resurfaced this year if there is any way to do that. Other than these areas, which really need council support, our wider support needs as always are to get volunteer assistance with running teams and financial assistance with the costs of running the club.