From Walthamstow to the World Cup, the club has taken its place in footballing history.
Children at an east London football club that has produced two England captains “dream that one day they might be like Harry Kane”.
Tucked in an unsuspecting corner of Chingford, Waltham Forest, is the Ridgeway Rovers FC.
But from Walthamstow to the World Cup, the club has taken its place in footballing history.
Founded in 1979, at the local park, the club is now famed as the first team both David Beckham and Harry Kane played for as boys, with Beckham now an honorary life president.
And Ridgeway also hopes to invite Kane to join their honorary presidents’ ranks soon.
Children playing at Harry Kane’s old club the Ridgeway Rovers. Photo: Football Foundation
The former Man United star scored more than 100 goals for the side after starting in the under 10s team, while Kane joined the under sevens before ending up at Spurs.
Despite this impressive history, the club’s growth had been limited by the quality of their pitches, which was causing many games to be called off and a poor experience for players.
Funding from the Football Foundation, the London Playing Fields Foundation and the London Marathon Charitable Trust saw the club transformed in 2016 with the £579,000 refurbishment of the facilities at the Peter May Sports Centre.
Harry Kane as a child at the Ridgeway Rovers. Photo: Football Foundation
Players now enjoy an all-weather floodlit 3G football turf pitch, thanks to the grants, and over 300 boys and girls from across the borough are able to get active and play sport.
And after hitting the headlines during the 2018 World Cup – Kane’s first as captain – the club is now calling on footballing organisations to continue backing grassroots sports.
As the UK’s largest sports charity, the Football Foundation channels funding from the Premier League, the FA and the government into transforming community sport in England.
Harry Kane’s first coach, Dave. Photo: Football Foundations
Chairman Ian Marshall said: “When I took over in 2011, we had about eight or nine teams and were on the edge of folding. This is now the busiest facility in the area with five games going on at any given time on a Sunday.”
He added: “Having an all-weather surface is fantastic because the kids can play every week and haven’t got to worry about whether the pitch is going to be playable.
“It’s incredibly important for the Football Foundation to carry on investing in grassroots football and sites like these so that kids can play.”
The Football Foundation funds grassroots sport. Photo: Football Foundation
Alex Welsh, chief executive of London Playing Fields Foundation, said: “When the Football Foundation launched in 2000, it was the best thing that happened to grassroots football.
“It has completely transformed the landscape of grassroots facilities.
“When kids come here, not only do they enjoy the football, but they also have the opportunity to dream that one day they might be like Harry Kane.”
While Dave Bricknall, Kane’s former coach, said: “This facility is a major asset for producing footballers for the future. If we want to produce more Harry Kanes and more David Beckhams, we should be looking to open more of these facilities and make use of them.”
And Robert Sullivan, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: “The facilities here are a shining example of the power of pitches not only to produce future England stars, but to transform local lives and communities through offering more opportunities for people to play their favourite sports and get active.
“We are working closely with our partners – the Premier League, the FA and government through Sport England – to transform access to grassroots facilities across the country.”
Ridgeway Rovers also featured in the 2019 documentary Harry’s Heroes: The Full English – where they played a team of ex-England professionals players, winning 2-1.