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I know a dark secluded place - not Hernado's Hideaway but Finsbury Park Track

All you see are silhouettes
And all you hear are ath-e-lets 

I've just managed to get back to training at London Heathside Athletic Club after a lay off, so I got to see for myself the conditions on a winter evening when the flood lights are not working. The first thing to say is that the enthusiasm of the athletes remains undiminished. There were several groups of different ages and abilities dotted all over the place, seeing their way by means of temporary battery driven lights and the moon. The club is generating a lot of interest at the moment and training is very popular. Well done Heathside. The lights won't get fixed until Haringey assigns a lease to a new tenant.

Second thing to say is that Heathside has become part of a pretty convincing consortium and has put in a bid to take the place over. They are thinking of it not as a running track but as a sports hub at the centre of a variety of different activities including athletics, american football, tag rugby, tennis, football, a gym and school sports days as well as things run by Hornsey YMCA and British Military Fitness. The case for keeping the track and all the associated activities going is pretty strong. The track sits just beside the Finsbury Park rail and bus stations, and also serves Islington and Hackney, neither of which has its own running track.

The test below is what the consortium released to the press recently:

Press release, December 2011 
Heathside and partners bid to safeguard multi-sport future for Finsbury Park The Finsbury Park Sports Partnership has tendered for the lease to operate Finsbury Park athletics track and hub, submitting a bid that it believes will safeguard the facility’s role in providing access to a range of sport for residents of the boroughs of Haringey, Hackney and Islington. 
The partnership represents several community organisations, including specialist sports providers of athletics, American football, and fitness training, and leading local sportsdevelopment organisations Access to Sport and Hornsey YMCA, with all organisationsbound by the common interest of protecting and developing the sports facility at the heart of Finsbury Park. 
“We believe that the partnership represents the type of community-led vehicle that HaringeyCouncil have in mind to champion the future for Finsbury Park,” said Jerry Odlin, chairman of London Heathside AC and a member of the project steering group. “We are confident we can deliver the aspirations of the Council and ensure the facility provides access to a range of sport for the local community.” 
The partnership’s bid demonstrates the important role of the facility in serving some of the most deprived and disadvantaged communities in Haringey, Hackney and Islington, with its connections to public transport links also making the facility one of the most accessible athletics tracks and sports hubs to central London communities. 
Denise Lewis, former GB Olympic heptathlon champion, has lent her support to London Heathside’s efforts to secure a future for Finsbury Park as a venue for competitive athletics.“It is sad that at the same time as London is gearing up to host the Olympics local sporting facilities like Finsbury Park are facing an uncertain future,” she said. “It is vital that the track can continue to serve clubs like Heathside to help bring athletics to more people, especially children.”The Finsbury Park facility is also a strong venue for a variety of pitch sports, and the Finsbury Park Sports Partnership’s bid will ensure that the home of clubs such as American football team London Blitz, reigning league champions and holders of the EFAF European Cup, is protected and improved. 
Notes to editors: 
1. The Finsbury Park Sports Partnership is proposed to comprise the following primary organisations: Access to Sports, London Heathside Athletics Club, London Blitz American Football Club, Dynamic Sports Academy, Will to Win Ltd, Hornsey YMCA, and Try Tag Rugby. London Heathside were shortlisted for club of the year in Haringey Council’s fifth Celebrating Sports Awards, held at the end of November. 
2. England Athletics considers Finsbury Park Track to be one of the most accessible tracks in the inner London area given its excellent public transport links. Out of all the athletics tracks in London which need investment, England Athletics holds the view that Finsbury Park Track is its number one priority. The facility is in an important strategic location because of the extensive catchment area it serves. It is in a critical location serving the inner London area which is a priority area for the Governing Body as it has identified a need to improve provision for inner London communities. There are currently two million people in central London who do not have access to an athletics track. 
3. In recognition of the poor state of repair of Finsbury park track and gym the partnership’s bid presents a realistic and phased strategy to provide a long-term sustainable solution that achieves the outcomes desired by the Council. 
4. Finsbury Park Track and Hub is located in the London Borough of Haringey, but is close to the borders of Islington and Hackney Boroughs. Neither Hackney nor Islington has an athletics track and therefore the location of the Finsbury Park Track is an important strategic location which serves residents from three boroughs. 
5. For further information, contact Jerry Odlin, chairman of London Heathside and member of the project steering group, on jerryodlin@mac.com 

Tags: Finsbury Park Track, london heathside

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