HARWICH and Parkeston’s historic Royal Oak ground will carry a sponsor’s name next season in a deal described as a “massive boost” for the Shrimpers.

The much-loved stadium will be called the Gwinnell & Sons Royal Oak, after the club struck a deal with the well-known funeral directors.

The company have branches across Essex and Suffolk, including bases in both Dovercourt and Manningtree.

Their sponsorship of the stadium will come into effect from July 30, to tie in with the club’s final pre-season friendly against Isthmian League side AFC Sudbury.

And it is described as a “rolling agreement”, for the “foreseeable future”.

“It’s a big sponsorship deal and very exciting for us, as a club,” said Harwich assistant manager and director of football Mike Wallace.

“It’ll allow us to pump more funds into both our first team and youth set-up, in addition to making eye-catching improvements at the ground.

“We want to upgrade the tunnel area and are already working on a new sign to go outside the ground.

“We’re very keen to build a partnership with Gwinnell & Sons.

“They want to support local football and we’re delighted they chose us, and our ground, as the best way to get involved.

“It gives us a regular income and we’d like to say a big thank you to the company’s directors for supporting us.

“It’s a massive boost and one that bodes well both for next season and the club’s future.”

Harwich are also in the process of working with their new sponsor to arrange a memorial board at the ground, in Main Road.

This will provide an opportunity for former players and supporters to be remembered.

Harwich, of Thurlow Nunn League first division south, are preparing for their opening pre-season friendly against Witham Town on Saturday.

Kick-off at the Gwinnell & Sons Royal Oak will be at 2pm.

Kieron Shelley’s side then host Stanway Rovers on Tuesday and Felixstowe and Walton United on July 13, before a trip to Stowmarket Town on July 16.

They then play Thetford Town on July 20, Needham Market Reserves on July 23, Leiston Reserves on July 27 and AFC Sudbury on July 30.

Meanwhile, Harwich have confirmed the signing of versatile former Wivenhoe Town, FC Clacton and Stanway Rovers man Ben Parkin.

However, Harry Johnson will now not be playing his football at the club next season.