Bracknell Town FC
Ground Number: 342
Tuesday 18th March 2014
Bracknell Town 4-0 Henley Town
Hellenic League Cup 3rd Round
Originally on this day I was planning to Redhill for my second Isthmian League match in 2 days. But I wasn't too keen on braving the M25 and fancied leaving home a bit later so I looked for something closer to home. I looked on the Hellenic League site to see if either of the Reading clubs (Reading Town or Highmoor IBIS) were at home as they were amongst the closest to me. They weren't but Bracknell Town, a ground I had also not seen a game at were at home in a Hellenic League Cup game against Henley Town.
I spent the day on my day off and actually had a good nights sleep. I felt quite jaded but alert enough. probably as I drink shed loads or diet Irn-Bru and that usually keeps me up at night. But I'd not had any for a couple of days, and was hoping to get another decent nights sleep before work tomorrow. I spent the first part of the day after getting up catching up on some of last night's TV that I had missed. I then walked down the post office to send a parcel and came back and did some of my blog.
Bracknell Town played in the Isthmian and Southern Leagues for 25 years after being promoted from the Spartan League in 1984. That all came to an end in the 2009-10 season when they finished bottom of the Southern League Division 1 South and West, after losing 40 and winning just 2 of their 42 League games that season. Their record high was 3rd in the Isthmian League Division 1 in 1986-87. Even more bad times were to follow after that relegation - they went down to the Hellenic Division 1 East after they finished bottom of the Hellenic Premier in the 2011/12 season, however 5th place last season was enough to see them promoted as none of the 5 higher placed clubs had the facilities to allow them to go up. Their best FA Cup run came in the 2000-01 season where they got all the way to the 1st Round before losing 4-0 to then football league side Lincoln City. Some of the more well known players to pull on their boots for Bracknell include Damian Markman who played 4 games for Wycombe and also played for ROPS in the Finnish Premier League and Jermaine McGlashan who is now a midfielder for Cheltenham Town in League 2. Currently they are doing pretty well in the Hellenic Premier, in 13th place and well clear of any relegation worries. They can also boast the seasons best attendance in that league when 222 turned up to see them play Ascot United back in August.
Henley Town were established in 1871 making them one of the oldest clubs in the world, and indeed the oldest recognised by the Oxfordshire FA. The club have never played higher than Step 5 of non league, the last time they were there was in the 2011-12 season when they finished in the last relegation place of 17th, Last season was a disaster with them finishing bottom of the Hellenic Division 1 East. Luckily for them, this season has been a lot better with them being 6th at the time of writing. Their best FA Cup performance came in 2007-08 when they got to the 1st Qualifying Round before losing 5-1 to Chesham United, that season also saw their best FA Vase run when they got to the 1st Round. Their best league finish came in 2002-03 when they finished 10th in the Hellenic Premier. I was actually going to see them play at their own ground on the 23rd December this season, but the game was called off due to the bad weather.
During the afternoon I had tweeted the club asking if they were doing a programme and how much it was to get in. They replied pretty quickly and even though I thought £6 was about a quid too much for a small cup like this, I still decided to take the plunge and go. After a bit of dinner I left just after 6.30, arriving around 45 minutes later after a journey with minimal delay. One annoying thing is that the 3 way cigarette adaptor for my car stopped working, so I had to have the phone wire stretched as it is far too short for using the phone as a Sat Nav. I made a note to order one ASAP as I need it for my trip away next week.
I paid my entry and got a programme. With around 20 minutes to go to kick off at that point I was going to write some of my blog on my iPad, but it was then that I realised that I'd left it at home. So I looked at the programme instead, and it was worthy of it's 'award winning' status. There were plenty of stats in it and also some interesting articles - one that especially interested me was about Harry Redknapp and his dodgy foreign signings at West Ham. The most famous being Marco Boogers who was sent off for an awful tackle on Gary Neville in only his second match. He was reported to be living in a caravan in Holland, however this was untrue as the reporter that broke the story had misheard the West Ham official, and therefore an incorrect story had been printed in The Sun.
After walking around the ground and taking some pictures, I settled down for the game. Bracknell were quick out of the blocks. They made all the early running but then Henley started to come back in to it. On 13 minutes the home side took the lead, Sam Barratt finishing from close range after a good through ball. That was how it was at half time with the home side well on top, so I went to get a Bovril to warm up and the person who runs the club's Twitter account came after and said hello after he recognised the Wycombe badge on my coat.
The second half produced a lot more goals, all for the home side. Shane Cooper-Clark got Bracknell's second on 75 minutes with slotted it past the keeper from the edge of the area. Sam Barratt got his second on 80 minutes when he came in down the right wing, cut inside and finished from a tight angle. Barratt completed his hat trick with the last kick of the game after he converted a penalty awarded for a foul in the box.
It had been a reasonable, if a little one sided game. I was pleased to hear that Wycombe had gained a 1-1 draw at Cheltenham which was a decent result. But with top of the league Rochdale at home and title challenging Scunthorpe away in the next 2 games, we would do every well to get anything from them. I noted with a slight disappointment that I missed a 7 goal thriller at Redhill where Burgess Hill Town triumphed 4-3, but I had a decent night at Bracknell, plus due to it's closeness I was home and in bed by 10.30.
LARGES LANE is probably one of the bigger step 5 grounds and it's clear to see that it was a former venue of a higher league. Along the side where you come in, there are 3 covered stands, 2 seating and 1 standing. There is a decent sized terrace behind one goal which looks really smart painted in the club colours of red and white, while the rest of the ground was open.
The bar is smart and cozy, while the tea bar also doubles as a cafe on non matchdays. I didn't see any club shop, but if you want a wider choice of food and drink, the town is a short walk away.