Pub’s own 5-a-side pitch scores with community clubs

NewRiver pub The Butterbowl Hotel, in Leeds, has scored a hit among local sports clubs – with its very own 5-a-side football pitch.

Publicans Rick and Bev Firth spent £12,000 of their own money to create the pitch at the rear of the pub.

They believe The Butterbowl is one of only two pubs in England with its own pitch of this kind.

Since Rick decided to build the 500 square metre pitch, it has become home to the Leeds Juniors under-14s football team. The pub is now also the headquarters for Farnley Falcons rugby league club, which boasts 13 teams, including two girls’ sides.

It is used every weekend by up to 120 children aged between six and 14-years-old, with The Butterbowl providing food and drink.

“I got a digger in to dig out what used to be a small hill,” explained Rick, “put down grass seed, and got help erecting the pitch surrounds. The work was spread out over a couple of years, and it’s been in use for around 18 months.

“It’s free to use, and we now want to encourage more local clubs and teams to come and use it.”

Rick, a customer at the pub for 40 years before taking it on with Bev as their first business venture, said: “She wasn’t too happy while the work was being done, but it’s been worth it, and the pitch has already paid for itself through the increased trade we’ve enjoyed on the back of the clubs using it.”

Rick and Bev, who have run the Butterbowl Drive venue for three years, have signed a five-year tenancy agreement with NewRiver. It is one of 344 pubs across England and Wales owned by the retail and leisure property company.

On Bank Holidays, Rick and Bev host family fun days that include a barbecue and bouncy castle, and have just introduced two full-size table tennis tables outside.

As a result of the couple’s commitment to The Butterbowl, NewRiver has paid for repairs, external decoration and new signage.

David Shipton, asset development director for NewRiver’s pub portfolio, said: “Rick and Bev are among our very best publicans, and what they’ve done at The Butterbowl, for the benefit of the whole community, is nothing short of brilliant.

“We were only too happy to invest in the pub, and will continue to support Rick and Bev in operating a successful, sustainable business, and one that’s testament to all their hard work and dedication over the last few years.”

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