In the lead-up to the official opening of Hutt City Council’s Ricoh Sports Centre on Monday 17 December 2018, we reflected on the past with some great memories of Fraser Park. This is part of our series of Fraser Park Stories.
Paul Grant has been involved with the Lower Hutt City Football Club for more than 30 years, taking to the field at Fraser Park as a 13 year old fresh from England. He started coaching and managing teams in his early twenties. Over the years, he coached or managed junior teams at Under -14 and Under – 8 level and managed senior teams competing in the Open and Masters grades. He was involved in the creation of a Masters team for the club – the Longballs – and played with them until 2016.
Our chat with Paul (Hutt City Football Club):
When did you first visit/play sport at Fraser Park? What were your first memories?
I joined Lower Hutt City AFC as a 13 year old in 1984 after emigrating from the UK with my family. My three brothers and I were enrolled as juniors with the club in the Hutt Valley league (as it was then) and we would often be drawn on Fraser Park Extension. I remember cold frosty mornings and hard plastic balls.
Do you have family ties with Fraser Park?
My brothers and I played for Lower Hutt City AFC as juniors. I played for the club from 1984 to 2016. My two sons have played for the club since they were six years old – now in 2018 they are 21 and 18 years old and continue to play. Jayden has represented the club at Central League and currently plays for the reserve team in the Capital premier division. Cameron currently plays for the reserve team in the Capital premier division. Both have represented the club at the national under-19 tournament.
How many years have you been associated with Fraser Park?
From 1984 – 2018……34 years and counting.
Can you describe one or two highlights from your association with Fraser Park?
Highlights of my playing career include representing Lower Hutt City in the national under-19 tournament in the 1988/89 season and winning the senior Open A division
I was involved in establishing the club’s first Masters team, the Longballs, in 2004 and played for them until 2016. We played our first game on Fraser 1, winning 2-0 over Marist.
I enjoyed great banter in the changing rooms – especially when more than one Lower Hutt team was drawn to play on Fraser Park at the same time.
What do you think about the new Sportsville development? How has/will Sportsville change things for your sport?
One of the key benefits that I’m looking forward to is the sense of community and strengthening of the club that the development will bring. It has previously been difficult to achieve this. While we were at Bell Park the senior mens’ and womens’ first teams would play games there and most other senior and junior teams would play at Fraser Park. Hopefully the new sports facilities will attract new members as well.
About Ricoh Sports Centre
The new centre at Fraser Park, will be the home of Fraser Park Sportsville and is a game changer for sport in Lower Hutt, and a great asset for the wider region.
It’s a joint project between Hutt City Council, CFT and 9 local clubs and organisations that have come together to form Fraser Park Sportsville.