Observer Comment: Plight of football clubs is a reflection on society

THE PLIGHT of Hastings United Football Club epitomises a much wider malaise among our community.

The local football club used to be the place where men gathered at the end of a long hard week working down the pit or in the factory. It created a sense of identity and belonging.

Indeed many of those working men not only lived in the town but pulled on their boots and took to the field with pride cheered on by their family and friends.

The colours of the kit, the faces in the stand, the atmosphere on the terrace and the blood and thunder on the pitch - the very essence of what local football is all about.

But how things have changed.

The plight of our football clubs is a reflection of the break up of that very sense of community spirit and pride.

Today there are so many distractions for children and adults alike.

The multitude of live Premier League football matches in warm, cosy pubs selling cheap ale has become a major problem for league and non-league clubs alike.

And the internet and computer gaming can keep many children wrapped up in their own micro world at the weekend.

There are many towns bigger than Hastings that do not have a club of our size and stature.

Dartford FC, a similar size, has built a stunning ground for the future and is now reaping the rewards as the team pushes toward the football league.

A region of 100,000 plus inhabitants needs a team identity. Just a dozen hardy souls travelling to Suffolk tomorrow hardly reflects well on our town.

Whether it is football, rugby or cricket, men or women, we must unite to protect that unique identity and encourage our sportsmen to do their best. Come on the Us!

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AN AIR of positivity appears to be spreading across St Leonards of late.

Whether there has been a recent upsurge in community spirit is unclear - it seems more likely that the naysayers are finally being drowned out by the yaysayers.

The currently online St Leonards Community, which is soon to host its first meeting, has seen a hive of activity on its Facebook page, with hundreds of locals keen to share events, ideas and memories (page 30).

Then there is Sam Cleland, who has big ideas for St Leonards, contained in his Go West proposal, and refuses to accept that nothing can be done to improve his neighbourhood (page 14).

The Wonky WI supported moveable community garden is the perfect solution to the problem of temporarily derelict spaces turning into eyesores, plus it is sociable, and healthy to grow fruit and vegetables in a public space (page 15).

Then of course there is the Town Team, recently set up by Hastings Borough Council, Local Space and the St Leonards Business Association, which represents the interests of local organisations and individuals who want to change things for the better.

With all these people determined to make things happen, St Leonards is their oyster.