The History of Aylestone Park Youth Football Club
Aylestone Park Football Club was founded in 1968 by a group of boys from a local Methodist Church Youth Club. The Club joined the Leicestershire Youth League playing in the Under 18 division. Within three years there were five teams at various age groups based on Aylestone Park Recreation Ground.
In 1972 the club leased five acres of land from the Leicester City Council which was ideally situated at the centre of two large council estates and a large private housing estate, providing for the sporting and social needs for young people in the community.
The ground was originally agricultural land, but with the aid of a small grant from the Sports Council and the fund-raising efforts of the boys themselves it was leveled and cultivated for two football pitches.
In 1973 the club moved to its new site on Dorset Avenue .A wooden construction provided four changing rooms, no showers or heating but it was the clubs own.
In 1974 with eight teams registered with the County F.A. we undertook to install floodlights, the first non league floodlights in the County. Our first match under the floodlights was between Nottingham Boys and an Aylestone Park Team. It was played in front of the then England manager Don Revie . In our team that night was one of our most successful old boys, the former England Captain Gary Lineker OBE , now an Aylestone Park Old Boy, Club President and an interested supporter of the Club.
We are a dynamic club and our success and development is not limited to the football field. Over the next 10 years we added to the original wooden hut showers, a tea room, and a small games room for the boys to use in connection with our affiliation to the Leicestershire Association of Boys Club. The existing changing rooms were converted to form an open plan multi function room which were used for the many activities associated with Young People’s social needs. In 1984 we leased an additional 3.7 acres of land to provide further pitches for our ever expanding number of activities and teams.
In 1992, in recognition of the community needs were providing, we were able to secure an additional 6.6 acres of land from the Leicester City Council with a 28 year lease bringing the total playing area to 13 acres, comprising six football pitches, two floodlit, and two floodlit training areas.
With this security and the extra land we undertook our next major project, the building of a new club house with showers, changing rooms, games room and function room at a cost of £180,000.00 a tremendous target for us to achieve but with funds awarded from all the major Grant Aid Bodies and our club members raising £35,000 we were delighted in May 1994 to invite the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Margret Bell, a previous General Secretary of our Club, to open our new Clubhouse.
In 1995 we applied to the Sports Council for funding to install a comprehensive drainage system throughout the ground to ensure pitch quality over the Winter months. We were successful and in the summer of our 1996 we installed the drainage at a cost of £28,000.
By 1997 we commenced our next project, the upgrading of our floodlights, our project was submitted with a concept of having the lights mounted on a rotating bracket which allowed us to turn the lights through 360’ to illuminate not only main the main pitches but training areas at the rear and sides of the pitches, all from three columns. The new lights gave a much better quality of light and were more cost effective. So impressed were the Sports Council with our application that we obtained a 75% grant, and the lights were installed in 1998.
In 2000 we were awarded our Football Association Charter Club Status acknowledging the standards not only achieved on the pitch but also the administration of the club and implementation of National Policy relating to Child Protection and Health and Safety.
In 2003 we were awarded Community Club Status, the first of many Leicester City based clubs to have achieved this most prestigious accolade.
By 2006 our club expanded to such an extent that we had eighteen youth teams playing in local leagues, a youth Academy attended by an average of 70 children aged 6 to 10 every Saturday morning. We were now providing facilities for the recreational and social needs of 400 young people a week.
The ground was now used Tuesday to Thursday for evening training and floodlit matches. The Leicestershire Schools F.A. and Youth League representative sides also use our ground for inter county representative matches. We formed partnerships with Leicester City Ladies , Leicester Grammar School and Stoneygate School who used our ground for afternoon training and matches Monday to Fridays.
Over the years our ground has been used by The Fosse Day Centre for People with disabilities, The Special Needs European Championships, The Victims of Crime Support Scheme, The Royal Society for the Blind, British Heart Foundation, and Special Needs Sports.
As part of our development we were asked to form an Inclusive Section for young people with Physical and Learning Difficulties. Again we were the first Leicestershire Club to have its own Inclusive Section catering for the sporting needs of 30 members each Friday Evening.
In 2007 Leicester City Council submitted an ambitious bid to the Football Foundation to build a network of football hubs across the city, Aylestone Park FC were selected to partner the project at Linwood Playing Fields, an unused former school playing field bordering our existing ground. As part of the offer development so the offer of a new ground was tinted with sadness but after some constructive discussions the deal was signed and in November 2009 the club made preparations for the move.
With the management committee’s experience of running a private ground the club were able, with Council officers, to design a ground which would enable us to offer our members and partners the best facilities possible. A six changing room pavilion, club room, two grass floodlit pitches and 42 space car park.
The club added £240k to the contributions from the Football Foundation and Council which enabled the installation of drainage to the two main floodlit pitches levelling of playing surfaces, an extension to the club room to replicated the size of the one at Dorset Avenue,. We installed a stand, dug outs, irrigation system, post and rail pitch barriers. In November 2010 we moved onto our new facility.
Never a club to stand still in early 2014 and application was made to the FA and Premier League Facilities Fund to fund a full size 3g floodlit pitch. The club raised a contribution of £190K towards the construction. A partnership was arranged with a nearby FE college for daytime use, ensuring the financial viability of the project over the next 10 years. The application was evaluated and approved within six months.
In December 2014 work commenced and construction was opened in April 2015, providing an all year round training and playing facility for the 42 club and partner teams. We are also able to share this facility with our College and school partners as well as Leicester City Football in the Community and 10 community teams.
This venture committed the club to raising £25k a year to re carpet the pitch in 2024, a significant challenge to the business plan of the club, but one that the trustees are confident can be achieved ahead of this deadline.
Our workforce of 64 active volunteers management committee, Club offices and Trustees have created a legacy to be proud of in its achievements a club run by the community for the benefit of the community.