Interestingly the 2020 Ordnance Survey map probably contains the least information on the status of the stadium of any previous map available.
Picture credit: Ordnance Survey
2020 sees the PA take up a new (old) position in the Harvey end, moving from the club shop building. The view is better in person than this picture does justice!
In 2020 the country, in fact the whole world, was effected by the Coronavirus pandemic. As a measure to prevent the virus spreading, many areas of public gathering, eg pubs, theatres, sports stadia, etc had restrictions on numbers of people who could attend, and how they could attend. As a result of this the ground had its first ever all ticket match in September 2020, and also first ever sold out match. This was due to a restriction placed on the number of people who could attend a game based on the league level that the home team was based in, irrespective of ground capacity.
At this time the Grandad stand now had a permanent netting installed to prevent the pigeons flying around. This was kindly installed by the Stadium sponsors, BuildKent,
The reduced capacity of the ground at this time meant that areas could be closed off for improvements. In November 2020 the Cricket Ground end terrace was resurfaced, This top-of-the-terrace has been there since 1933. Considering the number of cracks in this area there might be a good chance that this was the first resurface since then!
Taking a fence. Again.
The Coronavirus pandemic eventually meant all football at non-league level below National South had to stop in December 2020. However this gave further opportunity to improve facilities at Cheriton Road. The pitch perimeter iron post & chicken-wire fence that had stood for possibly nearly 100 years was removed, and replaced with a more modern plastic arrangement.
Picture credit: Clive Arnold
Local sports fans might recognise these fences. They were obtained form the defunct Folkestone Racecourse at Westenhangar, which closed in 2012. This make-do-and-mend is very much in keeping with the recycling history at the Cheriton Road ground, similar to the old railway lines used to prop up the Harvey end roof in the early 1930s. The fences, when at Folkestone racecourse, were very distinctive.
Picture credit: Andy Jones
2021 saw a large number of ground improvements:-
CCTV Cameras all around the Ground and Bars.
Resined Terracing at Cricket Ground end.
New Perimeter Fencing around the Pitch.
Trees inside ground Cut & Trimmed.
Old Supporters Club Shed adjacent to Bar Invicta demolished/removed.
New and existing Advertising Boards erected on new Perimeter Fencing.
Rubbish cleared from behind Main Stand.
New drain installed behind Main Stand to prevent flooding.
New Fences erected at front & back of Bar Invicta.
Agreed new contract with 3 Hills for Pitch Maintenance.
New agreement with Buildkent for Stadium Sponsorship.
Refurbishing of Turnstiles including new Roof and Lighting.
Refurbishing Wilf Armory suite and new Lighting.
Painting Changing Rooms and New Lighting.
Revamping Fixture Board on main road.
New Electronic Scorebard.
Water Butts installed to collect Water and re-use on Pitch.
Mountain of old Grass Cuttings removed from near Supporters Shop.
Resin laid in big area at Bar Invicta.
Tarmacing/Resin around new Perimeter Fencing/Driveway.
New outside Doors fitted at Wilf Armory Suite.
New Lighting in Main Stand.
The more noticeable ones are highlighted below.
In January 2021 a new CCTV surveillance system was installed in multiple locations around the ground. This enabled 24/7 coverage. The system was purchased with help from a donation from the Supporters Club.
Picture credit: Folkestone Invicta
Later in January 2021, something more exotic: heating from a terrace!! Further to the cricket ground end resurfacing shown above it appears that the terrace has been used as a heat source - a sort of large solar panel. It was built by Southern Construction Group, with some impressive paintwork.
Picture credit: AnthonyFIFC
In March 2021 it was announced that a scoreboard is to be reintroduced to the ground. There had originally been a clock in the late 1980s. The clock reintroduction was in honour of Harry Lester, who used to operate the old clock, who passed away in February 2021. The scoreboard was duly unveiled in July 2021 at a friendly against near neighbours Hythe Town.
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Picture credit: Folkestone Invicta
A bar, bar none
In April 2021 there were some major changes to the outside of Bar Invicta. The old supporters club shed was demolished and removed, and the entire area that was previously grass was paved. The trees were clipped back & enclosed in fetching wooden squares at the base of the trees, and a covered area was created. New furniture was put out, and the whole area had a Mediterranean feel, although clearly not in the winter.
Picture credit: John Law
In late October 2021 a new 15 year lease was agreed which not only gave the club longer security of tenure and the opportunity to maximise return on investments, but also enabling the club to apply for grant funding otherwise unavailable.
Following on from this was a floodlight upgrade, with all existing flood lights and control gear from pylons removed with new LED fittings being the replacements (all new lamps , 5 per pylon.). These will give a better light level plus a saving on running cost. The existing columns stay. In detail:-
Like any team operating within the Football Association’s (FA) league system, Folkestone Invicta is bound by certain requirements in regard to its matchday floodlighting. And, as is the case at many of the clubs playing grassroots football today, the club’s existing lighting system was struggling to keep up.
This “corner mast” system – four pylons, each with five metal halide lamps – had become increasingly inefficient. Worse still, it was beginning to prove unreliable, with both the quality and uniformity of the pitch lighting starting to suffer. Left unchecked, it was clear that the existing solution wouldn’t adhere to the FA regulations for much longer, let alone live up to the expectations of players and supporters.
Having initially approached a number of contractors, Invicta chose Midstream for both its wealth of experience and the company’s cost and power efficient proposal. With planning permission secured, and financial support from the Football Foundation’s Stadia Improvement Fund, Folkestone Invicta commissioned Midstream to move ahead.
With a design that managed to preserve the club’s existing mast infrastructure, the main change was the installation of 20 of Midstream’s Modus S Series LED floodlights in a like-for-like solution. Following a rapid install – brought forward by two months and installed in just two days for a crucial FA Cup replay against Eastleigh – the club now benefits from better lighting across the ground, lower energy and maintenance costs, reduced light spill into surrounding areas, and a system that’s fit for the future.
In June 2022 the PA hut got a long overdue upgrade. Announcer / radio commentator Ade Dawkes did a magnificent job of turning a hut into a studio. It's well worth including a "before" photo.
Picture credit: Adrian Dawkes
In April 2023, Newingreen haulage company Alcaline UK Ltd became the new ground naming sponsors (as well as shirt sponsors)., with the ground being named the Alcaline Stadium.
Further to this in July 2023, Addington Leisure joined forces with Alcaline with the aim is to secure the long-term financial future of Folkestone Invicta at its Cheriton Road ground for the benefit of the local community. Their quote:
“We have a 5 to 10-year plan for the club and will build an even more engaged and passionate community around it. A key part of that will be making it a place to not only watch great local football, but also to enjoy memorable family events in the new Dug Out sports bar. We want to work in partnership with the fans, council, sponsors, residents and the whole football family of Folkestone, and we are committed to putting the club at the heart of the local community. In the coming seasons, the consortium’s plan is to transform the club and introduce new training facilities, including a 3G pitch."
So Bar Invicta, once Stripes, once Red & White club now has a name that although football related, has no obvious link with the club occupying the ground - namely "the Dug Out" . The refurbishment in July 2023 went ahead:
To add to the changes at the same time, on what was waste ground next to the Dug Out bar, a new outside bar was constructed, named the "Buzz Bar".
In September 2023 all the trees on the 3 accessible side of the Dug Out bar were removed. At the time it wasn't readily apparent why this was done.
Meanwhile, inside the refurbishment continued............
Photo credit: Duncan Saunders