AFTER nearly a year without a functioning track, more than one hundred Yate & District AC athletes turned up on home soil, writes Stuart Nunn.

Groups that had been forced to train at ‘foreign’ venues – some as far away as Gloucester and Cardiff – could only marvel at the transformation that had been created at their home stadium.

Not only has the entire track been dug up and relaid, but a second 100m straight has been added, along with a second throwing cage, a second high jump bed, and a second shot putt circle. They will not yet be able to appreciate this, but there is now main electricity on the in-field.

Former club chairman, Stuart Nunn, said: “Back in the nineties I wrote a wish list for the stadium, with little hope that any of it could be provided. Now it is all there, and now Yate could play host to regional and even national events.”

Club captain, Matt Muggeridge added: “The track feels just like I remember from when the old one was new. It’s going to be very fast.”

The evening started with the Academy taking to the track. For many of the children involved this will have been the first time they set foot on a proper track, and their drills will have gained significance by being on rubber rather than grass.

And then the club members started turning up. For months they had been confined to the grass or banished to unsatisfactory or not terribly welcoming other facilities, but now it was like the greeting of an old friend. Old members who had not been seen for several seasons arrived for training and it was like they had never been away. Over a hundred of them, all eager to try out the new track.

Sprinters were back at the top of the 100m track; throwers in their new, super-smooth circle; jumpers at the unaccustomed south end of the stadium – all in all, a hive of activity that promised a great future for the club.

The first competitive fixture is on Saturday when the lower age group of the Youth Development League arrives for the third match of the season.

Main credit for the development must go to Yate Town Council who summoned up the finance for such a big project, the largest in their history as a council. But also to club chairman, Jeremy Dale, who christened the new track on Tuesday night by being ducked in the steeplechase water jump, and later by cutting a celebratory cake, decorated with a track.