Castletown football pavilion is a source of pride after £45,000 refurbishment
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Castletown's newly refurbished football pavilion will be a source of pride for the whole village and the wider area, the club's chairman has said.
The £45,000 revamp was celebrated at an event on Saturday attended by invited guests including representatives of funding bodies and as well as tradespeople associated with the club who carried out most of the work.
Chairman Kevin Mackay thanked everyone who had contributed, calling it a great community effort.
The facilities at Back Park are used by the Castletown men's team, who play in Division One of the Caithness Amateur Football Association summer league, and Caithness ladies, who compete in the Scottish Women's Football Highlands and Islands League, as well as by youth sides.
Castletown's playing surface has long been considered the best in the county – and now the village has a clubhouse to match.
The improvements include upgraded changing rooms with new showers and a well-appointed Quarrymen's Bar featuring a "legends wall" with framed shirts of distinguished former players on display. The team is known as the Quarrymen because of the village's historic links to the flagstone industry.
Almost £21,000 was awarded by the Caithness and North Sutherland Fund, while £3000 came from the Baillie Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund administered by Caithness Chamber of Commerce.
A share of the proceeds from the sale of the village's Traill Hall also went towards the refurbishment, and the club used some of its own funds.
A donation came from Brian and Fiona Mackenzie, whose late son Marc was a Castletown player, committee member and supporter.
Club president Jimmy Gunn was invited to cut the green ribbon to officially open the new facilities. Mr Gunn was joined by his nine-year-old grandson Kian Sutherland.
Mr Mackay described the pavilion as something the whole community could be proud of.
"It's 50 years since this place was put up and now we've refurbished it, so hopefully it'll be here for another 50," he said.
Mr Mackay pointed out that so far Ross and Cromarty women are the only team from outside the county to have used the pavilion since the work was completed, having played a league match against Caithness on April 23.
"They said they couldn't believe we had this facility in Caithness," he said. "That's great, because they're from down Dingwall way and they've got a lot of facilities.
"They said, 'What a set-up between your pitch and your pavilion.' It's great to get that compliment.
"Other teams that we've had here, Thurso Acks and Pentland United, have said 'what a lovely job you've done'. It's great for us as a small village outfit to get that praise."
Greg Macleod has been playing for Castletown since he was a youth and now, as managing director of Precision Plumbing and Heating, is the club's shirt sponsor.
He said: "The reason I've sponsored the team is that it's a family, it's a home... this club means everything to me and to everyone in Castletown.
"To sponsor the team now is kind of the peak. It tops things off for me, really, from youngster to where I am now.
"The facilities now, you feel that it's almost professional. You feel you're in a different league.
"It's top tier, that's where we are – that's the bar we've been looking to achieve.
"I think we've got the right team, the right committee and the right manager in now that will push us in the right direction."
It is hoped that a further phase of work can be put in place, with plans for a shelter, new dugouts and decking.