It was 30 years ago today (30 July) that Irongate was officially opened as the home ground of Bamber Bridge FC, giving the club it's first permanent home.
The construction of the Bamber Bridge bypass in the mid-1980s resulted in a patch of land which was previously part of Irongate farm becoming vacant. Members of the Bamber Bridge FC committee at the time decided it would make an excellent home for the club, who at the time were playing home games on the municipal pitches on King George V playing fields in Higher Walton.
Peter Nowell our programme editor and 50k club chairman remembers the fundraising very well:
"I remember saving all the waste paper from work when I was employed as a printer in Preston. Every couple of weeks Gerry Lawson and Francis Walton would come on their collection round in the Brig lorry to collect the paper to sell to raise funds to buy the ground."
After many tons of waste paper and other fundraising activities, the club raised enough money to purchase the former cow field at Irongate Farm and start work on transforming it into a football pitch.
Irongate shortly after being purchased by Bamber Bridge FC. View from what is now the clubhouse end.
Following the hard work of the club's committee members, Irongate was officially opened on 30th July 1988. In the opening game, Brig welcomed Preston North End in a pre-season friendly. The club continues to honour this tradition with the same fixture being played as the pre-season opener each year.
Over the years, the Irongate pitch has seen some highs and lows, promotions, relegations, and most recently, in May this year, a play-off final victory over Prescot Cables to secure promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
Irongate's most famous game occurred the summer of 1996 when Bamber Bridge welcomed the Czech Republic national team in a friendly. The Czech team were based in Preston ahead of their Euro '96 opener at Old Trafford and had approached Preston North End for a game. For some reason North End declined the offer and passed on the phone number for Irongate and the rest as they say is history!
Stuart Barton (now Bamber Bridge's goalkeeping coach) in action against the Czech Republic
From humble beginnings, following the hard work and dedication of the club's committee members, volunteers and supporters over the years, the former cow field has been developed into the excellent facility it is today, including the addition of the 500 seater Gerry Lawson Stand and the clubhouse and sponsor's lounge. The ground not only provides a home for Bamber Bridge FC, but also a very valued community sports and social facility.
Happy Birthday Irongate!
Main picture - the current ground.
Updated 09:14 - 22 Aug 2018 by Ruth Hornby