By Paul Thomson
Rangers legend John Brown is backing the East Kilbride News’ campaign urging South Lanarkshire Council to back plans for a new community stadium.
The 54-year-old, who lives in Hairmyres, can’t believe a town the size of ours does not have its own stadium and he is calling on SLC to see the benefits East Kilbride Community Trust’s field of dreams would bring.
Brown – nicknamed Bomber – has long been a vocal supporter of EKCT and East Kilbride Football Club.
Indeed, he helped launch the football team in 2010.
Since then he has become a familiar face around K-Park and at the Trust’s Sunday Club for children with additional support needs (ASN).
Along with his wife Sandra, the former Ibrox stalwart volunteers at events throughout the year and takes football coaching sessions.
But he knows both the football club and the ASN group are outgrowing their current homes and the facilities a new stadium would provide would help them to continue to prosper.
The proposed development would not only boost the town’s sporting facilities, it would also provide a full-time home for the ASN group.
Brown told the News: “I live in East Kilbride and have done so for the last five years now so I’ve seen the difference the Trust has made.
“I’ve been able to take my grandson to K-Park for his football and give him opportunities that he never had before, thanks to the Community Trust.
“And this new stadium can build on that. I think the town is desperate for something like this and I fully support the East Kilbride News campaign.
“But it’s not just about football.
“There will be boxing, martial arts and additional support needs groups who will benefit as well.
“The stadium will be a community facility that will bring the town together. I’ve seen that for myself at the Sunday Club where parents who might otherwise be isolated in their homes come together. I know being a father and a grandfather that you have to give a lot of time for your kids.
“But for kids with severe disabilities, the pressure on the parents is seven days a week.
“So if we can let the parents have a break for an hour or two, let other people look after them and get their kids involved in sport, I think that’s a great thing.
“The facility that is being proposed is going to bring all these groups together to benefit East Kilbride.”
It’s taken years for EKCT to get to this stage with any stadium plans, with previous proposals failing to get off the ground.
And Brown said: “For the life of me I don’t know what the agenda is with the council but they have held back our progress with this.
“It’s a disgrace that this has been held up for so long.
“I can’t believe they don’t see the benefits.
“The first bricks could be down soon, though, and the stadium could be completed in less than 18 months if this goes through.
“Fans that I speak to and people who take their kids to K-Park all want to be part of it and they are asking me why we don’t have this stadium.
“There’s over 40 teams who play out of K-Park but East Kilbride has outgrown K-Park because it could be booked three times over.
“It’s so important for East Kilbride that this gets rubber stamped by the council.
“The potential is fantastic and the council should be embracing it because it will bring business into the town, too.”