Four years after sharing the first £100k Buildbase bursary, Hanwell Town FC is a changed non-league football club.
Currently mid-table in the Isthmian League, South Central Division, it continues to attract new players which adds to the positive feeling around the whole club today.
CEO Nigel Hunt recalls applying for the bursary in 2017: “We thought about winning and what difference it would make to the club and it spurred us on. Achieving the bursary was unprecedented for a club like ours.”
At the time, Hanwell Town was embarking on a five-year redevelopment programme; the facilities were, Nigel says, “in dire straits” and needing major refurbishment without the funds or materials to do it.
“Funds are always a challenge and most non-league clubs run on a shoestring. If something like a floodlight needs replacing, the money’s not always there to keep on top of the maintenance. And what’s more important, the lights or the pitch?” Nigel said.
Winning the Buildbase bursary was the start of a “different track” for the club, which went further than just the building materials provided. “It gave us the push to prioritise projects, get help with the cost and was a springboard for where we are now,” he added.
Investing in facilities
A key benefit of the bursary was freeing up the club’s funds to invest in refurbishing a range of facilities.
Management had set aside finance to improve the kitchen and bar areas to help generate more income and put the club on a sustainable footing. With the help of the bursary, renovating the bar paid for itself within four weeks, increasing the bar space and selling more refreshments on match day at half and full time. The club is now encouraging more outside functions in the clubhouse and promoting it as a live music venue.
Obtaining the bursary – which enabled the new kitchen and bar refurbishment – meant other money could instead be spent on redeveloping the pitch and installing a new irrigation system.
Also, the bursary meant the 60-year-old changing rooms could be modernised. Today, the facilities include a 31-square metre home dressing room with individual cubicles for each player. “To attract the best players, you need the best facilities and this is top level. We’ve had championship clubs coming down to train and they love our facilities,” Nigel said.
Non-leage net zero
Hanwell Town FC has now become the second club in London (after Arsenal) to sign up to the climate change net zero framework, including a major investment in LED floodlights.
“We all have a vested interest in the climate and that means also changing to recyclables. Every bit helps and it’s right for us and football in general,” Nigel said.
“Fans are telling us it’s a great initiative and are making suggestions for what we could do next.” The club has recently installed bicycle racks for people cycling to watch a match.
On the pitch
The revamped club continues to attract a lot of new player interest and now has thriving youth football teams – now with 32 teams, up from 25 in 2018.
And though the past two seasons’ senior team performance has been disappointing, Nigel thinks it has something to prove this year: “The image of the club is moving in the right direction and we now need to take the next step to improve facilities further.”
For any non-league clubs thinking about entering the next round of the Buildbase bursary, Nigel said: “one hundred percent go for it; it will change things overnight and take you up another level – it’s a fantastic opportunity.”
See how our other previous bursary winners have transformed their clubs and visit our newly-designed Buildbase FA Vase & Trophy sponsorship page.