On national Non-League Day, one of the country’s most famous grounds stands empty, locked up, vandalised and fading fast.

And on this day of all days, it’s perhaps an appropriate time to reflect on whether Billingham Synthonia will ever play at Central Avenue again.

When “Synners” clinched promotion on April 15 last year with a 2-0 home win against Willington, it also marked a sentimental “farewell” to Central Avenue – the club’s home since the 1950s.

Synners, with former Boro star Jamie Pollock at the helm as manager and chairman, now play at the Norton sports complex while they try to build foundations for a brighter future.

But while Pollock would love that future to involve a return to Central Avenue, he’s realistic too.

He knows that if the club is to return to a ground heralded as one of the best in non-league when it opened, there’s a huge amount of work to be done.

And he says it might be a non-starter anyway, depending on what the ground owner – listed with HM Land Registry last year as Camerons Brewery chairman David Soley – wants to do.

Pollock told Teesside Live: “As long as the ground is still there, there’s always a chance we could move back and I know the fans would love that, but it’s not in our hands really.

“I know the fans would like us to go back to Billingham eventually. Norton have been fantastic with us, but it’s a Billingham club and our fanbase has been affected. But whether that’s to the old ground, who can say?”

Synners players celebrate in happier times at Central Avenue (Image: Ian Cooper)

On his last visit, perhaps symbolically, Pollock saw the old dugouts being taken away.

He said: “It felt like a real home of football losing its identity. And I know the vandals have caused a huge amount of damage, so it would be a massive task and not for the faint-hearted.

“The pitch was always one of the best around and I’m sure we could get that back.

“But in terms of the main stand, we’d have to take some serious advice and look at what we needed to do. But it’s not only down to us.”

Boro chairman Steve Gibson during a charity match at the ground (Image: Doug Moody)

Pollock said the club will be meeting Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham soon to try to map out a plan for Synners’ future.

But he admits: “If we went back now, we’d have to review how we could make it a more suitable, modern ground.

“It would take a lot of hard work, a massive amount really. It would need a lot of passion and energy, but we’ve got that.

“It’s important we do everything we can to pursue the possibility of going back. But if it proves not to be possible, we’ll need to regroup and rethink.”

A packed crowd at an FA Vase semi-final in 2007 (Image: Ian Cooper)

For now, though, stabilising things on the pitch is his priority, with his young squad including several members of his Polton All-Stars Football Academy.

He said: “We’re very much a ‘work in progress’ team but I’ve gone into this venture with a very long-term view.

“It’s something I want to be part of building back up but it will take time and patience.”

And that project resumes with today’s home clash against Washington.

© 2018 Tees Info

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