By Chris Dunlavy
ONCE, Jason Ainsley was so embarrassed about the state of Spennymoor Town’s clubhouse that he’d take potential signings to a swanky boozer instead.
Now, he can proudly show them round the club’s very own posh pub after the Moors bought beloved local the Salvin Arms.
The two-story building has been renovated at a cost of £300,000, renamed the Moors Tavern, and is set to form the centrepiece of the ambitious Durham outfit’s five-year plan to redevelop Brewery Field.
But Ainsley, now in his tenth season as a manager, is just glad he can finally stop telling porkies to new players!
“I remember when the clubhouse had claggy mats all over the carpet,” he says. “The pitch was full of weeds. It was so embarrassing I’d meet new signings at a pub, tell a load of lies about the ground and then watch their faces drop in pre-season!
“Now, I take the lads over to the training ground and they can’t believe the quality of the complex. There aren’t many Football League clubs like that. It even makes me want to get my boots on again.
“And with the pub opening in August, it’s all coming together. It’s not just for the club. It’ll be for sportsman’s dinners, for the community. The players can go there and mix with supporters. The reserve sides will go in there, the Under-18s. It’s going to be the heartbeat of the club.”
Not that anyone needs much persuading to join the Moors these days. Promoted to the Evo-Stik NPL Premier in May with designs on immediate progression, Ainsley has snatched Jamie Chandler, James Curtis and Rob Ramshaw from Gateshead, Andy Rafferty, the goalkeeper, from Dover and ex-Oxford man Tom Craddock.
The first four gave up full-time football to join the Moors, whilst ex-Oxford and Portsmouth striker Craddock has joined from Guiseley.
“I wanted to get everything done early,” explains Ainsley. “We’ve got a lot of good players in and now someone will really have to catch our eye before we make a move. “In this division, you’re suddenly travelling twice the distance. It’s a totally different ball game and for that you need a totally different player.
“The club has come a long way in a short space of time. We’ve only got three lads left from when we won the FA Vase three years ago.
“We need to progress again – the chairman (Brad Groves) has made no bones about that. It’s going to be tough because the higher you go, the better the standard of opposition.
“But with the signings we’ve made and everything that’s happening at the club, it’s really exciting times.”