When Crewe United started playing at Crewe Park in 1963 there was just a pitch within a field and a small hut for a dressing room. A wash or a shower after the match could only be achieved by going down to a river nearby. However it sufficed at the time until in 1970 prominent Belfast businessman Derek Rice and Harry Sinclair managed to gather up the finance for one of the old asbestos type bungalows. Within the club members were able to construct the dressing rooms and a small club house which doubled as a bar, even though there were only about 12 chairs. Ten years later the club acquired a large wooden structure from another sports club in Dundrod and with the assistance of players and officials and anyone who was prepared to help rebuild the wooden shell over the existing asbestos building. Subsequently the club became a licensed premises and it was officially opened in 1980.
- Crewe found their home at Crewe Park in 1963
- UEFA standard floodlights installed in 1989
- Main stand and terracing built in 1995
- New building completed in 1999
- New pitch installed in 2008
Around the same time the community side of our organisation was initiated, and titled “Glenavy Community Support Group” operating out of the Crewe campus. In January 1990, both organisations convened a meeting under the chairmanship of local councillor Ivan Davis to assess and plan for a more modern facility. This innovative concept was launched at a press conference in 1990. The first sod on the new development was cut by the then Northern Ireland minister Jeremy Hanley, and he remarked on the positive and progressive link between a sports club and a community group.
The new building was constructed in stages and funded with grant aid from the Central Community Relations Unit, the Sports Lottery, Lisburn Borough Council, The Football Trust and local and national sponsorship in the region of £100,000. Additionally the project could not have been completed without the voluntary help of all members whose contribution cannot be overstated. The new building was completed in 1999.
Since 1985 there has been ongoing work to the playing surface which would have been impossible but for the kindness and generosity of Cecil Haffey of Portadown. A lottery grant facilitated construction of a covered accommodation and terracing whilst the work undertaken to enclose the ground was the brainchild of then Chairman Eric Lyons and one of the clubs outstanding workers George Hull. The installation of floodlights in 1989 was another major coup for the club and at that time Crewe United were the only junior club in Ireland to have such a facility. In 2008 a grant was received from the English FA in London and the Alpha Programme to install a brand new (and totally flat!) pitch and Cecil Haffey again did the needful and today Crewe have one of the best pitches in the country.
Yes it is indeed a far cry from the “Wee hut” and shower in the “River”. It is impossible to recall all those people whose contribution was so important, but some easily come to mind. The Shephard brothers, Eddie Boyle, Ivan Johnston, Tom Hanna, Joe Beattie, Michael Ryan, John Murphy, Victor McCormick, Ann Mulholland, Ethna Brankin, Joe Bell, Norma Vokes, Hugh Bell, Jim McCullough, Reg Wilson, Margaret Toland, the Agnew brothers and many more.
Add to this an illustrious list of Vice Presidents notably George Smith, Richard Hedges, Colm Scullion, Ron Wilson and George Keenan. They have all played their part in the “Crewe Story”.