A SCOTTISH hockey internationalist has opened Hallhill Sports Centre’s new artificial pitch.

The near-£200,000 scheme saw the existing pitch ripped up, with a new 2G surface put down and sprint track created.

Problems with drainage on the pitch had led various sports clubs to look at the possibility of replacing the worn surface.

Now, after eight weeks of work, the new surface is in place, with Duncan Riddell (pictured), who represents Scotland in hockey, given the honour of officially opening the pitch.

Lynsey Fletcher, captain and match secretary of Dunbar Hockey Club, said the new pitch would make a “huge difference”.

She said: “We have never had a new pitch since Hallhill Sports Centre originally opened.

“This is the first time they have torn it up and underneath where you have the black spongy bits it was not spongy at all. It was just flat, which for the shins was not the best.”

The condition of the pitch meant players and coaches at the club often had to go out with snow shovels and move surface water off it.

On occasions, when that failed, it also meant matches had to be postponed and rearranged.

The hockey club helped raise funds for the project, which cost about £185,000.

East Lothian Council provided the majority of the funding, with hockey players of all ages, Dunbar Running Club and Dunbar United Colts all able to use the new pitch or the newly-created sprint track. Dunbar and East Linton ward member Councillor Norman Hampshire was among those at the opening of the new pitch.

He said: “The council is delighted to be able to support the funding of the refurbished 2G synthetic pitch at Hallhill.

“Hallhill plays a vital role for school and community sport within the Dunbar cluster.

The original 2G synthetic pitch delivered by Hallhill has supported Dunbar Grammar School with its physical education core curriculum, extended curriculum and school sport activity over the past two decades.

“The pitch has also been key to community sport growth within Dunbar over this time in supporting children’s football and rugby training and hockey club, for junior and senior activity and training and match play.”