THE grandson of former Ireland international Charlie Hurley has voiced his support for a campaign to re-open a derelict training ground named after the Sunderland legend.
The Charlie Hurley Centre in Sunderland has been closed since football club Sunderland AFC re-located their base to the Academy of Light over a decade ago.
Peter Curtis, a member of the Sunderland community sports club North East Sport, has been banging the drum for the site to be re-opened to be used for coaching local kids for some time.
His online campaign finally courted the attention of 21-year-old Matt Tichen, a sports science student at Huddersfield University and grandson to the 79-year-old Hurley.
“I noticed it around January,” Matt told The Irish Post. “I was scrolling through Facebook and just seen this campaign about the Charlie Hurley centre. So I messaged the director of North East Sport offering to help with the campaign.”
Manchester United fan Matt, who grew up in Macclesfield, carries a soft spot for Sunderland because of the achievements of his grandfather, who was voted the club’s Player of the 20th Century.
Hurley was born in Cork but his father moved to Dagenham in 1937 when he was just six months old, and he grew up to play 40 times for the Republic of Ireland.
Although he currently resides in Hertfordshire, he still holds a close bond with the people of Sunderland and has himself backed the bid to open the gates to the old facilities.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo in February, he said: “To have something like that named after me was a great honour. It has been there a long time – I went up there many years ago to open it and if it was reopened, I would come up again.”
— SunderlandEcho (@SunderlandEcho) April 6, 2016
Campaigner Peter Curtis wrote to Sunderland AFC, who own the property, over five years ago, but was denied use of the site as it is part of their long-term plans. However, no developments have been made since.
Now, Matt is the latest to get behind a renewed bid to have the gates which bear his grandfather’s name re-opened to help the community.
“It’s mostly about generating more awareness than anything and getting the club to recognise how important this is,” he said.
“I think it’s up to them to contact North East Sport and let them know what their intentions are, but it would be nice if we’re able to proceed with what we’d like to do with it.
“They may have it in their future plans and want to develop it, but we just need a fresh response off them, more than anything.”