A ‘David versus Goliath’ battle is about to ensue to keep Cornard United alive, according to the man hoping to secure the club’s future.
With the club’s current ground at Blackhouse Lane about to go out to tender, Mark Hoskin has issued a desperate rallying cry to the village he was born in.
The man who now terms himself ‘two of the three people’ left at the club, as secretary and first-team manager, believes the club faces the fight of their life over the next few months to ensure they remain in control of their own destiny.
With Great Cornard Parish Council — the owners of the Blackhouse Lane ground that bears Cornard United’s name — confirming they intend to offer it out to interested parties after a row over the previous tenancy agreement with former club owner Chris Symes, Hoskin’s aim is simple: To keep Cornard United in charge of their own destiny.
“I don’t think people in Cornard realise this could turn into a Sudbury-run place, which means Cornard has got nothing that is Cornard anymore,” he said, following a sixth straight league defeat on Saturday.
“When they wanted to change this (Cornard United) to Sudbury Borough, the people of Cornard were not happy.”
He continued by asking how people would feel if it could potentially become part of another club.
He added: “Yes, Cornard could play here, but for how long?
“The lease (on offer) is a five-year roll-on and they only have to give us five years’ notice and Cornard United is finished.”
The council confirmed to the Free Press a draft of the lease — which has been held up being advertised due to legal negotiations, but should now go public next month — does have a clause stating a team from Cornard must play at the ground.
But Hoskin added: “It is a massive risk that Cornard United could end up being a Cornard United Colchester and East Essex side, because although the lease says a Cornard side has to play here, it doesn’t say what level. It doesn’t say what day.
“There is a way around it. “If certain clubs were willing to come in here, they could say, ‘okay, we’ll have a Cornard Sunday team or Saturday in the Colchester and East Essex League and we can call games off willy nilly’ and it only costs a £10 fine. This is the trouble.”
The former Colchester United youth coach solely took up the club’s fight for survival at Blackhouse Lane after Symes cut off his involvement following a feud with the council, culminating with being locked out of the ground in late October.
The temporary keyholder Hoskin says it is now do-or-die, not just for Cornard United, but for neighbouring Cornard Dynamos Youth Football Club, whom he plans to fuse into one Cornard club, which would enable them to play in the esteemed Eastern Junior Alliance.
“The only person keeping Cornard United going is me and if I don’t win the bid, then who knows who is going to get it,” he said, “Dynamos won’t have a hope in hell.”
Dynamos chairman Harvey Doherty said they currently run 18 sides, including one disability team, making them a bigger youth set-up than even Ryman League neighbours AFC Sudbury.
Although he said the lease on their pitches — which provides the access to Cornard United’s changing rooms and bar — is separate, Hoskin losing out could have big implications on their plans to meet their own needs.
“The Dynamos are fully behind Mark,” said Harvey.
Dynamos have found accommodating 220 young players testing this season after AFC Sudbury began using the neighbouring pitches at Thomas Gainsborough School, which the Blackhouse Lane club used to spill on to.
“Most Sundays every pitch (three in total) has got three games on it, so when it is wet it does not do any good,” added Harvey.
Parish council manager Michael Fitt said they were planning on giving interested parties a four-week period to express their interest in the clubhouse and its floodlit pitch before inviting people to pitch to them, with ‘community value’ the key criteria they will determine the successful applicant on.
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