One of Tower Hamlets’ most respected and illustrious junior football clubs, Senrab FC, is preparing to move out of the area after being turned down for council funding.
The club are known throughout the borough for helping produce international players like Jermain Defoe, John Terry and Ledley King. The team was formed in Poplar in 1961 and now trains at Bartlett Park, playing their home matches at Wanstead Flats, Redbridge, but are now considering severing all ties with the borough.
A representative from Tower Hamlets Council has said that they would be prepared to have a discussion with the club’s representatives who have “had enough”.
Former Senrab player, England international and current Queens Park Rangers’ striker Bobby Zamora told Eastlondonlines: “I have very fond memories of playing for Senrab. To hear that they are moving out of the area is not pleasant.
“I am disappointed [the club feel they have to move]. The club have brought on so many players. To take that away from such a club is upsetting. A lot of players in the English Premier League are from working class backgrounds and obviously some will still come through but we should be doing more to help kids.”
Zamora was reacting to news that Senrab club secretary Tony Carroll has said the club will have to move out of Tower Hamlets completely, with the borough of Newham their next destination.
“We have had enough” Carroll told Eastlondonlines. “We get nil – absolutely nothing from Tower Hamlets Council. We are the biggest team in a borough with 24 teams ranging from ages five upwards, but if we do not leave we will not just fade: we will die.”
Senrab have been training at Bartlett Park in Tower Hamlets, but have had to switch to facilities at Victoria Park in Hackney when Bartlett Park has been unavailable. Several teams from the Inner London Football League, The London City Airport League and the Tower Hamlets Community College vie to use Tower Hamlets’ limited facilities and Senrab have been forced to look at paying to use facilities in areas like Canary Wharf, spending up to £60 to hire pitches for a few hours so as to provide for their many teams.
The club had hoped to win a grant from one of the Council’s funding streams, the Tower Hamlets Sports Council, after entering the Mayor’s Cup, a borough-wide football tournament for junior clubs. Each team participating was encouraged to apply for a grant of up to £500 per team, with the Council stating that the sponsors of the event later formed a body with organisers which then selected 20 teams who they deemed deserving of additional funding in the form of a grant from the Sports Council.
Tower Hamlets Council declined to state which sponsors made up the body.
Senrab were not awarded any additional funding, and with them struggling to find facilities to accomodate their high number of members coupled with the council’s limited number of pitches being fought over by so many clubs in different leagues the famous club have been forced to look outside of the borough. They have also asked to be removed from any Sports Council listing of clubs in the borough as they feel the branch of the Tower Hamlets council can offer no benefit to them through their forums and initiatives.
Carroll said: “We entered the borough’s Mayor’s Cup and supported it in a big way. We had teams at every age level and were assured of one of the grants awarded to certain teams. Then we got a letter telling us there were ‘20 more worthy causes.’ I am spitting nails. We have bestowed so much prestige on the borough with the players we have produced, and we keep over 200 kids from the borough off the street. They should be bending over backwards help us. Instead we are forced onto an open market.”
Other clubs in the area know of Carroll’s issues with the Sports Council and the allocation of funding and facilities to other clubs. For the secretary of the borough’s second largest club, Westward Boys, it is something that can be talked through.
Adwale Adeyomi, secretary of Westward Boys, said: “Senrab are the biggest club. We both should have got money, Senrab particularly as they are the most deserving, but the council make the decision.We know it is a waste of time applying. The smallest clubs tend to get money.
“However, Tony needs to meet them at the halfway line. The club is definitely entitled but they need to see why they did not get it. We tried to see why we did not get any money. Tower Hamlets need to be
clearer in their explanation of why funding went to smaller clubs.”
ELL informed Tower Hamlets Council of Senrab’s intentions to seek a new home, and a spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said: “Although the council does not directly fund any football clubs, we value the commitment of local sports clubs and organisations and signpost them to funding streams such as Tower Hamlets Sports Council and community grants where possible.
“The Mayor’s Cup Community Grant application process took place after the tournament held in April 2012. Sports clubs and community organisations were able to apply for 20 grants of 500 pounds each. The grant application process was widely advertised and Senrab FC applied via an open and transparent entry process but was unsuccessful. No grant was specifically promised to Senrab FC.
“The demand for football in the borough is very high and the council has a limited number of pitches which are available to community organisations.”
For Zamora, he hopes that a dialogue on the funding of youth football can be opened up. “The affects of the club moving will be obvious: the kids may not be able to get the coaching they deserve and obviously someone, at some stage, will have to have a look at it and turn things around.”