A FOOTBALL team from a tiny village, who are punching well above their weight, are celebrating a “huge” step forward after being awarded most of the money they need for floodlights.

Cranborne Football Club, which has been playing for 100 years, manages to field a Dorset Premier League team despite the village only having a population of a few hundred.

The league is shared by large clubs with excellent facilities, such as Hamworthy and Portland, whereas Cranborne shares space with other sports clubs to save money and finding the £10,000 annual running costs of its three teams is always an issue.

So when the club got the news the Football Foundation is giving them £2,300 towards portable floodlights, which will enable them to “train properly rather than just having a kickabout”, they were thrilled.

Chairman Ian Beattie, 55, who started playing for Cranborne when he was 16, said: “We had static lights, which had to be checked every year and unfortunately ours were deemed not serviceable.

“The price for new static ones was £1,900 upwards, so we looked into grant funding. “Portable floodlighting is the preferred option, as they are rechargeable and can be used by the two village schools. The parish council gave us £300, so that leaves us with about £1,000 to raise.

“For us it’s a huge, huge step forward.

“The lights will allow us to conduct formal training rather than kickabouts, and bring coaches in.”

The club has about 60 players, with many of the surnames still the same as when it started a century ago, such as Antell, Loader and Poore.

Mr Beattie’s own sons play for Cranborne sides.

He said: “Cranborne only has about 350-400 residents so for us to maintain our status in that league is a remarkable achievement.

“Luckily we have a couple of sponsors Uthara Print and Safe Hire Ltd, who supply kit, and we play at the Mick Loader Memorial recreation ground owned by Lord Cranborne for a nominal fee – we are indebted to him.

“But we could always do with more sponsors, or people to take an ad in our programme – we’d be absolutely delighted to hear from anyone who could support us.”

To find out more, contact Nick Beattie on 01725 517390.