St Helens Town set to move into Ruskin Park development

Declan Gregson and Andy Gillespie in action for St Helens Town
Declan Gregson and Andy Gillespie in action for St Helens Town

St Helens Town, who for the past four seasons have played their football outside of the borough, are hoping to move back home to the borough this summer.

The club will play their football at the newly-developed Ruskin Drive sports ground, if the project is completed in time for the start of the 2016/17 season.

They will move into a ground which includes a new 3G pitch being built at the former Pilkington’s Sport and Social Complex.

It will also include a 200-seater stand and purpose-built changing rooms.

Town had previously shared Knowsley Road with Saints and had hoped to continue the arrangement when the rugby league outfit took up residency at Langtree Park.

However, Town moved into a period of extended exile after balking at the amount Saints were charging in rent to play at the stadium.

They instead went on the road, first playing at Atherton Collieries, Ashton Town and currently Ashton Athletic.

The Ruskin Drive project is being led by St Helens Council Sports Development department, in conjunction with the Liverpool County FA and the Football Foundation.

Construction has recently started and is due for completion in the summer.

The move has added significance as it means Town will now comply with new stadium minimum standards for the North West Counties Premier Division.

The development has been some years in the planning and will form part of a broader project across the site which will see the facilities for rugby, tennis, cricket, bowls and football hugely improved.

Town will access the facilities, alongside Cheshire League neighbours Pilkington FC who have been based on the site for many years.

Club chairman John McKiernan said: “We are delighted to be making a return to the town after a long time as the tenants of a number of clubs.

“Everyone at the St Helens Town is really looking forward to all our teams returning home and we must thank all the partners involved in making this happen.

“We have to be really thankful for the great support offered us over the last five years without which the club would now have been a distant memory.

“I’d like offer a special thanks to our current landlords Ashton Athletic who have been great hosts especially in light of the dreadful weather we’ve experienced over the last two seasons.”

He added: “We’ve worked hard to maintain a presence in the town and to fly the flag for the borough across the region and in the FA’s national competitions.

“When we left St Helens we were one team and now we are four with an U18s, U21s and adult Sunday team added to our NWCFL first team with a plan to continue our growth.

“We’ve already started to work with Ruskin Leisure and other sports clubs with a comedy night earlier this year and there’s a race night planned in June.”

The official move is dependent on league chiefs signing off the project before the start of the new season.

However, if the project does not meet the league’s deadline Town have signed a deal with neighbours Prescot Cables.

Cables play in the Evo-stick league and will host Town if they are unable to move into Ruskin Park before the league’s start.

Mr McKiernan added: “I’d like to thank chairman Tony Zeverona and the board at Cables for agreeing to host us at Hope Street should our new home not be ready at the start of the 2016-17 campaign.

“We have had to sign a season-long agreement with Prescot to satisfy the FA security of tenure requirements but we are confident that any use of Hope Street will be minimal.

“We hope to have further updates as work progresses and plan a series of events next season to celebrate the club’s 70th anniversary.”