THE football season has gone into extra time for a raft of volunteers helping to ready host grounds for next month's Errea South West Challenge Cup. Since news of the tournament was announced in April, ground staff at Marshford, Appledore; the Sports Grou

THE football season has gone into extra time for a raft of volunteers helping to ready host grounds for next month's Errea South West Challenge Cup.Since news of the tournament was announced in April, ground staff at Marshford, Appledore; the Sports Ground, Bideford; and Mill Road, Barnstaple, have been busy painting, repairing and repainting in time for the competition kick-off on July 23.Appledore Chairman Larry Jones said groundsman Mike Brennan and his team had done a considerable amount of work getting the Marshford venue ready for the likes of Crystal Palace and Torquay United."Mike and his team work tirelessly behind the scenes all season but they have gone the extra mile this season," Mr Jones told the Gazette."They have been tremendous and have done everything they can to make sure the ground is clean and tidy in time for the three games we are hosting."Work has included re-seeding and re-laying the pitch in certain areas; refurbishing the changing rooms; and repainting the perimeter railings and the clubhouse - inside and out!"The club really appreciates what they have done - not just for the tournament, but for the forthcoming season too."On Wednesday, July 23, the club's immaculate playing surface is hosting Eastleigh v Crystal Palace, while on Thursday 24, Appledore will host Yeovil v Chertsey. Friday 25 will see the return of Neil Warnock's London lads against local boys Bideford, a mouth-watering clash being sponsored by supermarket giant Asda."It should be a great game and we could get well a couple of thousand supporters - we're really looking forward to it, as we are the whole tournament," added Mr Jones."The club car park will be reserved for players, officials and staff, but a local landowner has offered us the use of a field opposite for a small charge so their will be plenty of space for spectators."Meanwhile at the Sports Ground, Bideford AFC secretary Kevin Tyrell said volunteers from the supporters' club had helped to redecorate the club's Robin's Nest throughout."The ground has had a major overhaul," said Mr Tyrell."Many people have given up their time to do whatever they can down here. The toilets have been completely refitted, changing rooms redecorated; and lots of general tidying has been done including weeding around the ground."New dug-outs are on the way and pitch contractors Glendale have assured us that the playing surface will be ready in time for kick-off," he added.At Barnstaple Town, chairman Steve James said his club had been carrying out general maintenance work at Mill Road to help make the competition a successful event "I know Bideford and Appledore are both working hard to get their grounds ready too - we are all hoping this will become part of the calendar in North Devon for years to come," he said."Our groundsmen are working hard alongside outside contractors to ensure our pitch is in tip-top condition in time."We are also in the process of completing a refurbishment of our club house, something we have been considering doing for a while but has been spurred on by our involvement in the Errea Cup. "It will be completed over the next week or two."n THE inaugural Errea South West Challenge Cup tournament will feature Bideford, Barnstaple, Torquay United, Crystal Palace, Kidderminster Harriers, Yeovil Town, Chertsey Town and Eastleigh. Games will be played in two groups of four, before semi-finals with the winners and runner-ups of each group on July 26, and a final at the Sports Ground on July 27. Supersaver £15 eight-game match tickets are available on (01237) 477757 or at www.discountsportonline.com or www.bidefordafc.co.uk