When Yeovil Town F.C. moved to their current ground, Huish Park, in August 1990, supporters assumed that the two open terraces that were at the two ends of the ground would eventually be covered. At the time, the message being spread by club officials was that the lack of a roof was merely only a temporary measure and that it had been a compromise taken in order to ensure that the ground could be opened for the start of the new season. As a sweetener to supporters, the Bartlett Stand was priced the same as the terraces and transfer was permitted between the two areas of the ground, allowing supporters to be protected from the elements if the weather turned bad mid-game. If you look at photographs in the early days of Huish Park it is amazing how many few people stood on the terraces, compared with those that do so now.

Over the passing of time, several events changed the situation for the club. Firstly, the club’s financial troubles as a consequence of the ground move made the building of the roof an impossibility. The supporters tolerated this without question as saving the club was far more important at the time.

As the club moved out of its financial troubles, difference pricing structures made the Bartlett Stand more pricey, and at the end of the 1995/96 season the club stopped supporters being able to change ends at half time or in bad weather. The official reason given was that new safety regulations depended on the four areas of the ground being sectionalised, although fighting between rival supporters on the last day of that season surely was a factor here.

So the terrace supporters were unable to move from their open terraced area, and this coincided with a drop in atmosphere in the ground, particularly when the home team attacked the “away” end, and led to significant drops in crowd figures during bad weather as supporters could no longer transfer to the stand.

With the club now more or less stabilised, and the terraces still proving popular amongst fans, dissatisfaction began to rise about the facilities at Huish Park and and above all the lack of a roof, putting pressure on the current board to take action.

In 1999, the current chairman John Fry, took notice of the situation by applying to the Football Trust for a grant for various enhancements to the stadium, including the covering of one of the terraces. The grant obtained some sort of approval but on the condition that the club had to contribute 30% – 40% of the cost of the roof. The club were unable to do this, and the Football Trust told them to concentrate on issues that they believed to be more geared towards health and safety. A roof was considered to be a luxury, not a necessity.

The media exposure of the Football Trust grant had provoked such interest amongst supporters that it clearly was not going to lie down. Supporters, in particular a group of regular fans known as the Away Day Lads (who Ciderspace will feature in the future) pressurised the board, and although the board were not prepared to contribute financially at this stage, they did agree that they would give their public backing to a fund-raising campaign if it was set up by supporters.

So, on Thursday 15th April 1999 an inaugral meeting was held at Huish Park where a committee was formed to drive the fund-raising and to give the campaign a public profile.

At this stage it is unclear as to exactly how much would need to be raised in order to build a roof over Huish Park. This is down to several factors.

Firstly, with construction engineering materials and costs volatile over time, it will be difficult to put an exact price on the cost of the roof until the fund-raising gets to a certain stage. Secondly, with certain Yeovil Town board members also being directors of building and construction companies, it is feasible that the building of the roof could be financed at a lower cost, although there has been no formal commitment by any directors so far to such a thing. Thirdly, it is unclear as to whether planning permission currently exists in order to build a roof. Planning permission has been sought in the past, but generally expires if the building is not commenced. This should not stop the building work, but may affect what sort of roof will be permissible once planning permission is obtained.

With all that in mind, in an interview between Martin Baker and John Fry in the Yeovil Town programme in April 1999 (details of which will be published in Ciderspace shortly) two figures were talked about. The first figure, 88,000 pounds, assumed that the roof could be built as a “self-help” project, at cost price, with help from various Yeovil Town directors’ companies. The second figure, which the Roof Committee are aiming at, is 150,000 pounds. That figure may well change by the time that sum is raised, and was for an “up and over” covering without corners being filled in and without seating being put into the terraced end.

And so the fund-raising began ……

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