Returning Brigg Rec back to its glory days

Work has just begun on a huge regeneration project to return Brigg Recreation Ground to its former glory EMN-160324-154420002
Work has just begun on a huge regeneration project to return Brigg Recreation Ground to its former glory EMN-160324-154420002

Peter Thompson looks back to the halcyon days of Brigg Recreation Ground and forward to its second coming as works starts on a £2.5 million regeneration.

In the 1970s and 1980s on a Saturday afternoon there could be as many as 200 sportsmen and women arriving to get their weekly exercise at Brigg Recreation Ground – or the Rec as it was best known! These were halcyon days for Brigg sport!

Brigg Amateurs FC ran three sides and at least two of them would be at home on the two pitches available for matches in the Scunthorpe and District Saturday League.

Bill Johnson, later Mayor of Bottesford, was the local Bill Shankly, while Pete Altoft always seemed to be in goal for the Amateurs.

Brigg Hockey Club ran four men’s teams and three ladies’ teams there in those days and all three grass pitches would be used every Saturday.

That was just the weekend programme. In midweek the grass and hard tennis courts – seven in total – would be regularly booked.

There was a putting green, much used by adults and children, while Brigg Cricket Club and even Barnetby would play their Lincolnshire and North Lindsey League matches there.

I was lucky to play both hockey and cricket at the Rec for a number of years - 30 in total for hockey before the advent of Astroturf.

The game is, enthusiasts freely admit, much better on the all-weather surface and by the late 80s, hockey clubs had to up sticks and move to Scunthorpe for the artificial surface which, by that time, rules demanded.

Brigg Cricket Club found the Rec not up to standard and moved to Sir John Nelthorpe School, and more recently, with the Rec again banned by the Lincolnshire League, the club moved to Brocklesby Park.

There were several efforts to get Astroturf in Brigg. Glanford Borough Council decided to spend money on such a facility in Winterton, while a later campaign led by former GP Peter Norris to fund a pitch in Brigg, also hit the buffers.

Credit now then to North Lincolnshire councillor Carl Sherwood, who also once laced up his football boots at the Rec.

Thanks to his foresight, the sad, tired-looking wasteland which the facility has been for 20 years is to be regenerated thanks to a £2.5 million spend by North Lincolnshire Council.

The rebuild will see an Astroturf sports surface, changing rooms, pavilion, new tennis courts and improvements to the cricket square.

Cllr Sherwood’s committee included representatives from local sports clubs. Well done to all of them!

The first sod in the new build was cut last week. The rest, as they say, is history!