17th July 2017- ITV News

A Northumberland park is one of 13 UK public parks and cemeteries that’s received a share of £40million National Lottery funding.

Hirst Park is where footballing legends Sir Bobby Charlton and Jack Charlton OBE began their illustrious careers to become 1966 World Cup Champions.

The Ashington park has received a £2.3m cash boost from the National Lottery.

Hirst Park sits at the heart of the Charlton brothers’ hometown, the former coalmining district of Ashington, Northumberland.

It is where they first began to play and train as youngsters – as did their cousin and fellow footballer Jackie Milburn – before going on to play for Manchester United, Leeds United and England’s national team.

Sadly, during the decades that followed their success, the park fell into decline. Now, thanks to £2.3m from the National Lottery it will be given a new lease of life. Its currently under-used football pitches are being restored and this grant will help revive its footballing heritage.

The funding will also establish an annual Charlton and Milburn Cup tournament for local youth groups to follow in their footsteps.

”Hirst Park is as necessary and valuable to the youth of today as it was for me. Thanks to the generosity of the National Lottery may it continue to flourish for the benefit of the community.”

– SIR BOBBY CHARLTON

Hirst Park was built in 1915 to provide much-needed green space for a rapidly expanding mining population.

Now the project led by Northumberland County Council will enable it to continue its 100-year role at the heart of the community.

As well as inspiring the next generation of footballers, people will benefit from a new horticultural training centre, water splash zone and facility for charities.

”The football pitches where we played were created on the ash tip from the colliery and these were our first training grounds – our very own Wembley.”

”The park was a precious place where me and Bobby learned our craft, training and playing for fun, before going on to join Leeds and Manchester United and then playing in the world-cup winning England side in 1966.”

”Hirst Park made it all possible for us and we would play all day if we could… and we often did.”

– JACK CHARLTON