Kilwinning Sports Club fulfilled a dream last week as Justice Secretary Kenny Macaskill officially opened their new £2 million clubhouse and 3G sports pitch.

It is almost fifteen years since the Club’s founders Jim McCubbin and Jim Hodge took over a waterlogged field in the town’s Pennyburn area with the aim of providing dedicated football facilities for the local community.

Since then the inspirational club, which has been supported by the Scottish FA and North Ayrshire Council, has become a vibrant hub for the community, providing top quality football facilities, a family golf centre and fitness suite.

It has also picked up a host of awards and has been highlighted as an exemplar for other community clubs across Scotland.

Funding for the £2 million facilities comes from North Ayrshire Council (£0.52m), CashBack for Communities (£0.5m), sportscotland (£0.5m), Irvine Bay Regeneration Company (£0.2m), Social Investment Scotland (£0.2m) and the Robertson Trust (£0.08m).

Jim McCubbin said: “This is a great day for the club and community and is quite appropriate that we are opening the new clubhouse and pitch ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

“Much is made of the sporting legacy of the Games, something which is at the heart of what we do here in Kilwinning.

“We never had a grand plan for the club laid out so we have grown very naturally. However, from the start we were always focused on providing facilities for the people of Kilwinning.

“This is an area where many cannot afford to use traditional sports facilities, so it has always been important to make the club affordable for everyone in the community.

“The community has been our prime focus and we have always ensured the facilities serve the community rather than spending money and then trying to get people through the door.”

The Club now has around 30 football teams from right across North Ayrshire and 1500 people on its books.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “I was delighted to have the opportunity to open and tour this fantastic new facility at Kilwinning Community Sports Club. It’s great to see first-hand how money seized from criminals is directly benefiting communities the length and breadth of Scotland.

“The community spirit, which was instrumental in developing the club, was very evident this morning and it’s clear that the facility already caters to thousands of people offering access to a wide range of sports and activities.

Over the years the Club has used temporary accommodation, expanding as and when required. Despite these practical limitations, the way in which the club has supported grassroots football and community wellbeing has been recognised nationally.

Jim added: “I would like to thank everyone who has been involved over the years. We have a fantastic group of people who volunteer their time and effort behind the scenes.

“Without them and the wider community we could not have created our ‘Field of Dreams’.

“These new facilities are a reward for everyone who has worked, played and supported the Club over the years.

“I would also like to thank the Council, the Scottish Government, sportscotland, Irvine Bay and the Robertson Trust for helping us to make this a reality.”

Provost Joan Sturgeon joined in the opening celebrations: “Kilwinning Community Sports Club is an inspiration for communities right across Scotland as well as within North Ayrshire.

“The opening of the new Clubhouse is testament to the dedication and commitment of everyone involved.

“Kilwinning Sports Club is truly a club which has the community at the heart of everything it does and is a source of pride for the community.

“I look forward to seeing the club go from strength to strength in the future.”