Scotland star backs Penicuik pitch battle

Scotland international Claire Emslie, pictured playing for her country against Belarus last June. Photo by Michael Gillen.
Scotland international Claire Emslie, pictured playing for her country against Belarus last June. Photo by Michael Gillen.

Scotland international Claire Emslie has joined the fight to have the football pitch where she used to play given a £255,000 makeover.

Penicuik Athletic Youth Club are petitioning Midlothian Council to resurface their pitch amid claims players have been hurt on the poor surface.

Footballer Claire, from Penicuik, grew up playing on the astro pitch across from Penicuik High School and has been urging supporters to add their names to an online petition calling for action.

The 23-year-old Manchester City winger also contacted the local authority directly to make a personal plea.

On her Twitter account Claire shared a link to the online petition urging people “please sign”.

The petition on Change.org now has more than 550 signatures and has been backed by local MSP Christine Grahame (SNP).

At a meeting of Midlothian Council’s Petitions committee on Tuesday the case for the re-carpeting of the pitch is due to be put before elected members.

A paper petition lodged with the local authority on behalf of the club has an additional 88 signatures.

Louise Shepherd who is the petitioner on behalf of the club said they had also received letters of support from Midlothian MP Danielle Rowley (Lab), local police and Penicuik High School.

The petition states: “We have real concerns for all the players. Players have been injured playing football.

“On Thursday 17 January 2019 a boy fell during training and badly injured his elbow.

“We want Midlothian Council to fund re-carpeting and maintenance and to increase the security at this site to help prevent any damage or vandalism.”

Penicuik Athletic’s Youth Club said it has more than 60 coaches and volunteers who run 14 teams for 350 youths.

The pitch is also used by pupils at the high school and local primary schools for inter-school events.

A report from council officers has revealed that the pitch, which is used every evening for club training, as well as by other teams and for games at the weekend, was identified as needing resurfacing nearly two years ago.

However a request for funding to be set aside in the capital budget has not been given the go ahead.

A Midlothian council spokesman said: “A decision about the astro-turf will be made after the petition is considered by the petitions committee on Tuesday.”