Collingwood celebrated the opening of their new rubber crumb with an exhibition football match, with special appearances from former Sunderland midfielder Kevin Ball and the university’s vice-chancellor Stuart Corbridge.
The new £580,000 pitch, which has been funded primarily by donations from Collingwood alumni, played host to a lively and light-hearted encounter last Monday night.
The vice-chancellors ‘All-Stars’ team lost out to a younger Collingwood side, in front of a crowd of several hundred.
The event included pre-match and half-time entertainment from Collingwood Music Society, and the student band ‘The Lost Degree.’
Ex-Sunderland stalwart Kevin Ball, who played nearly 400 games for the Black Cats throughout the 1990s, was the star attraction for the ‘All Stars’, who also had Team Durham’s Quentin Sloper and the Dean of Experience Durham, Peter Warburton, in their ranks.
Joe Elliott, principal of Collingwood, also played for the ‘All Stars’ and was delighted at the pitch’s successful grand opening.
“It was a fantastic event and the game was played in great spirit – it had a real community and family feel,” he said.
“It was a valiant effort by the ‘all-stars’ but youth had its day.
“As well as our various sports clubs, we’re hoping that some of the children’s teams in the county will have an opportunity to use the facilities here.
“We’re very grateful to the many friends and alumni who have helped with this new development, and it was great to have the vice-chancellor and so many senior members of the university here to support this event.”
Collingwood are on course to top the college sport points table for the sixth year in a row, and all the sports teams – including the twelve men’s and two women’s football sides – will benefit from the new facility.
“I’m very proud of how high the participation rates are for sport at Collingwood,” said Elliott. “And with this new pitch we can keep going from strength to strength.”
Photograph: Jamie Owens