AN EX-miner aged 80 is keeping alive football facilities used by hundreds of adults and children — despite not being paid for nine months.
Dedicated Jim Liversidge has even dipped into his pension to continue maintaining the Maltby Main pitches at Muglet Lane, for which he used to be paid about £120 a week.
But there has been no contact for months from the trustees of Maltby Colliery Institute And Recreation Ground, which closed the linked Stute club in 2018 over costs.
Jim, who is head groundsman and chairman of the juniors, admitted: “Last week I was ready for throwing in the towel.
“I’m disappointed in the trustees if I’m honest. I’ve just had no contact for the last two or three months. They’ve not explained themselves.”
He added: “There’s been football here for 104 years. The site is safe in that there’s a 94-year lease.
“But if you don’t have someone like me come up and look after it, it will soon get overgrown. That’s what happened to the bowling greens. It will grow and grow and then it’s gone.”
Jim visits Muglet Lane daily but has needed to dip into his own pocket for diesel, seeds and machinery repairs. He also cleans the changing rooms and carries out other odd jobs.
He said: “I come up every day, just to check on things. At the moment with no rain, it’s not too bad. I cut the number one pitch on Monday and it needs doing about every ten days.
“It’s the same with the other two pitches, and the cricket pitch is about once a week. I don’t do all the cricket pitch, there’s someone else who helps with the fine turfing part.”
Fundraiser Mick Mills (54) set up an online donation page after hearing about Jim’s difficulties in trying to maintain the facilities.
“It’s Jim’s life but he’s saying he can’t afford to keep going,” said Mick, whose page brought in £4,600 in ten days.
“He even had to take £3,500 from the shop money, that the juniors use for fundraising, for a tractor to cut the grass.
“I knew there would be a good reaction to the fundraising because of the respect Jim’s got, and Maltby being Maltby.
“I’ve known him since I was a kid. He’s known as Uncle Jim and he’s got so much respect in the village.
“There’s also been about £1,400 in cash donated as well as what’s gone through the website. It just shows what Maltby is like.”
Jim said: “I’m really grateful for Mick setting up the fundraising. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to get diesel or petrol.
“The kids’ teams, that’s probably why I keep doing what I do. We have about 150 kids play here and they’re the main reason for me.
“They don’t know about all that’s happening in the background. They just want to play football.”
The trustees did not respond to a request for comment.
Rother Valley MP Alexander Stafford said he met with landowners Ciswo and was given a “cast iron” guarantee that the site would continue as a recreation ground.
He added: “Maltby Main is such a pillar of our community and I want it to continue to thrive and would hate to see it move elsewhere. Those raising funds for it are doing a great job and clearly show the value the community place in this institution.”
Visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/michael-mills-197 to donate.