Saturday, October 25, 2014

Buckingham AthletIc FC

Buckingham Athletic 2 Crawley Green 3 - Spartan South Midlands League, Division One

Buckingham is a town in north Buckinghamshire, close to the borders of Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire. Buckingham was declared the county town of Buckinghamshire in the 10th century when it was made the capital of the newly formed shire of Buckingham until Aylesbury took over this role early in the 18th century. In the 7th century, Buckingham, literally "meadow of Bucca's people" is said to have been founded by Bucca, the leader of the first Anglo Saxon settlers. The first settlement was located around the top of a loop in the River Great Ouse, presently the Hunter Street campus of the University of Buckingham. The town suffered from a significant fire that raged through the town centre on 15 March 1725, with the result that many of the main streets of the town were destroyed including Castle Street, Castle Hill and the north side of Market Hill. The result was 138 dwellings being consumed in the fire. The current fine range of Georgian architecture in these streets today is as a direct result of that fire, but the immediate aftermath was difficult for the town. Collections were made in surrounding towns such as Aylesbury and Wendover to help those made homeless and by 1730 had rebuilt only a third of the homes. Buckingham was served by the Buckingham Arm of the Grand Junction Canal from 1801 to 1932, and the canal was finally abandoned in 1964. The canal ran from Cosgrove, Northamptonshire to the centre of Buckingham to a wharf. Buckingham had a railway station on the Banbury to Verney Junction Branch Line and ran from 1850 to 1964. The closest stations are currently Wolverton and Milton Keynes Central to the east and Bicester North and Bicester Town to the south west.

Buckingham Athletic FC was formed in 1933 as Buckingham Juniors, but it was three years before a ground was found, allowing the club to enter the Brackley and District League. When they got their ground it was originally called Timm's Meadow, later changing its name to Stratford Fields. In 1939 the club changed its name to Buckingham Athletic FC. It took the club 27 years to win their first piece of Silverware, winning the North Bucks League Shield in the 1960–61 season. They joined the Hellenic League Division One for the 1965–66 season, and at the end of this season they managed to win the Bucks Junior Cup. After three more seasons, the club gained promotion to the Premier Division. They stayed in the Premier Division for three seasons, during this period picking up the Buckingham Senior Charity Cup, before being relegated back to Division one. For Seven more seasons they remained in Division One before leaving the Hellenic League and dropping down a level to the North Bucks & District Football League for the start of the 1979–80 season. The time spent in the North Bucks league was rewarded with the NBL Premier Division Shield in the 1983–84 season, and the North Bucks & District League Championship a season later, winning it while remaining undefeated. At the start of the 1985–86 season the club joined the South Midlands League Division One, and were champions of the division at the end of the season. However the club had to wait another five seasons before it was promoted to the Premier Division, when they finished as Runners-up in the 1990–91 season, as their ground had mnot previously met league requirements. The club stayed in the top division of the South Midlands League, and then the Spartan South Midlands League, when the South Midlands League merged with the London Spartan league, for eight seasons.

This was the Pieman’s second visit to a match in Buckingham. The first occasion being Buckingham Town v Forest Green Rovers at Forde Meadow in October 1996. On that occasion I travelled by train to Bletchley and then by bus to Buckingham. This time I was offered a lift and the journey via M25, M1 and A5 enabled us to arrive at Stratford Fields in good time for this 3pm kick off. There was a fun fair just down the road and the club car park was full. However, we managed to find a space in a nearby street.

The clubhouse is outside the enclosed area and I opted to pay admission and obtain programmes before entering the ground. The very reasonable admission price encouraged me to look to spend money in the clubhouse before the match. Although real ale was not available (the club is looking into this) I enjoyed a bottle of Ringwood Forty Niner. There was a friendly atmosphere in the bar area and preparations were also underway for a private function to be held that evening. This building also hosts the toilet facilities for the ground.

The ground is bordered on two sides by a public park and a number of dog walkers appear to time their Saturday afternoon activity to coincide with the football as they can get a really good view of the match from the park. However, At £3:50 including a match programme, they might want to consider supporting their local club from inside the ground for the price of a pint! Another side of the pitch houses a covered seated (benches) stand which can accommodate standing. This structure would be the only shelter in adverse weather conditions. Behind the stand are the changing facilities. The remaining end of the ground has a training area backing on to the car park.

This match was played on a lovely sunny autumn afternoon. Buckingham Athletic had been struggling recently and changed their formation for this match. The first half was particularly good for them as they seized control and scored two goals without reply. At half time we enjoyed tea in the clubhouse and a nice touch was that the gentlemen serving did so from a tea pot. Sounds daft but so often these days you are issued with a cup with hot water poured on a tea bag and you have to finish making it yourself – a nice touch, well done Buckingham Athletic!

Unfortunately for the home side it was visitors Crawley Green that enjoyed the majority of the second period, scoring via a brave header over the keeper, a fine turn and shot and a great solo effort. These three strikes were enough to secure the points. On reflection I think a draw would have been a fair result but credit to the visitors for coming back so well. Stratford Fields was a nice setting for this match. The weather was kind and the match was played in good spirit. Our journey home was trouble free and once again the Spartan South Midlands League provided good Saturday entertainment.

Attendance: 47
Admission: £3:50
Programme: Free with Admission (20 pages)
Tea: 70p (from a teapot!)

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