WINNINGTON Park can make more home improvements, and sooner, after members responded in their hundreds to a plea for help.

The Northwich club had hoped to raise £5,500 in four weeks to cover some of the cost of installing floodlights at Burrows Hill so that players can spend more time practising.

A final tally was close to twice that figure.

As a result, they can afford to upgrade facilities in other parts of the ground ahead of schedule.

"I'll be honest - as a committee we feel truly humbled," said Brian Concannon, the club's president.

"The response has been absolutely brilliant."

Park were invited to use Crowdfunder - a way of collecting money online that encourages friends and supporters to pledge what they can afford - as part of a trial by Sport England, who will now match the club's four-figure contribution.

A total of 250 people offered to chip in.

Concannon said: “That includes contributions from all sections of the club which is remarkable given the time of year and with it being so close to Christmas.”

An estimated bill for the project, which includes upgrades to existing lights as well as installing new ones, is £48,000.

A grant from Sport England and a loan from the RFU – the game’s governing body – as well as savings set aside by the club, accounts for the rest.

Winnington hope to have the work done early next year.

The remaining money from the Crowdfunder campaign, which closed with £10,350 pledged, has been earmarked for adding a viewing balcony to the clubhouse and refurbishing the kitchen.

A proposal to renew the drainage for both the first and second-team pitches is likely to be brought forward too, and has been earmarked for after next year’s Chester 7s festival in the middle of June.

Concannon said: “We invested in a new system for the third-team pitch earlier this year and it has worked really well.

“After the heavy rainfall last Friday and on Saturday morning there was standing water on the playing surface that caused all of Sunday’s games to be cancelled.

“However those areas where work had been done were perfectly playable.”