STEVE Fletcher came back “home” to Hartlepool to throw his support behind the Mill House masterplan project.
Steve is the latest footballer to back the ambitious proposals to create “world class” facilities in Hartlepool, estimated to generate £90m to the local economy.
The 39-year-old looked back 22 years when he signed as a professional for his home town club as a 17-year-old and said the progression of Hartlepool United and the club’s facilities under current owners IOR has been “tremendous”.
But he said it’s vital for a club to keep moving forward and backed the plans which include a new 3,000-seat stand at Victoria Park’s away end with a hotel overlooking the pitch, a new three-storey leisure complex, outdoor sports facilities and 70 new houses plus student accommodation.
“I wanted to travel back to town to show my support and to say thanks to the club that set me away on my career,” said Steve.
“I remember when I started, we used to get changed in small huts and trained on any patch of grass we could find.
“Victoria Park and Hartlepool United have progressed so much since then but you have to keep moving forward.
“If you stand still with the ground and the facilities, the team will stand still as well.”
Steve hailed the plans to develop Victoria Park and the surrounding area and said it will help to move the club forward yet again.
“I always enjoy coming back to Hartlepool,” he said.
“It will always be my home town so obviously I want the best for Hartlepool and the club.”
More than 100 football fans and local residents attended a meeting at Victoria Park to learn more about the proposals earlier this week.
Representatives from Hartlepool Borough Council, Hartlepool United and preferred developer Gus Robinson Developments attended and revealed the work going on behind the scenes.
The plans could also see land at Victoria Park, owned by the council and valued at £625,000, transferred to the club for free as part of the wider regeneration plans.
Developers say the total investment would be around £37m.