A Waterside football club facing relegation due to substandard floodlights can now kick off the new season in style, thanks to an assist from ExxonMobil Fawley.
Fawley AFC, nicknamed the Oilers, plays its home games at the Aliport Arena, on the old Esso Club site in Long Lane, Holbury.
The site is owned by Esso (part of ExxonMobil) and the facilities are shared by the Holbury Community Sports Association (HCSA). HCSA is made up four sports sections – football, bowls, tennis and cricket.
Fawley AFC was established in 1923 and competes in the Sydenhams Wessex League Division One. Scott Johnston, Commercial Director, explained: “Our floodlights are over 10 years old and in the past three years have been very difficult to work with.
The lights kept failing and, despite our best efforts and a lot of money being spent on trying to fix them, they continued to cause us major problems.”
League rules state that clubs playing in each step of the football pyramid must have a ground that meets certain criteria. In Fawley’s case, this includes having floodlights that pass a rigorous test every two years.
After several attempts over the past two seasons to get the lights working reliably, Fawley brought in a specialist firm to find a long-term solution.
Scott said: “The verdict was simple; the only answer was to replace the lights and keep the stanchions. If we didn’t, we would not have a ground that met the criteria and we would not be eligible to play our home games in our league. We would have been relegated.”
With time and finances against them, the club got in touch with ExxonMobil Fawley for help and the refining and petrochemical site stepped in with a contribution of £16,000, meeting about 80 per cent of the cost of the new lights. These have now been installed in time for the start of the 2019/20 season.
Scott said: This donation from ExxonMobil Fawley quite simply saved our football club and ensured we can remain in the league.
The new lights will last for many years and the quality means they are suitable for a ground two divisions higher than the one we are currently playing in.
Getting the lights has lifted a weight off everyone’s shoulders at our club, from committee, coaches, players and supporters. It has given us new ambition and allowed us to focus on football. We cannot thank ExxonMobil enough.”
Fawley Refinery Manager Simon Downing said: “Helping the Oilers to make sure they can remain in the league and concentrate on playing football was something we were delighted to help with.
The club has a long-established history; indeed, its origins are linked very closely to the first refinery being built at Fawley. The club has a proud standing in the local community, and we wish everyone associated with Fawley AFC every success for the future.”
• To find out more about Fawley AFC, go to the club’s website at fawleyafc.com.