Saturday, 3 July 2021

Basingstoke Town - Winklebury Football Complex

Basingstoke Town FC
Winklebury Football Complex
Winklebury Way
Basingstoke
Hampshire
RG23 8BF








Ground Nuber: 967
Saturday 3rd July 2021
Basingstoke Town 9-2 North Greenford United
Friendly




BASINGSTOKE TOWN FC - RECENT HISTORY

Basingstoke Town played at the Camrose from 1945 until 2019. The ground was gifted to them by Lord Camrose - real name William Ewart Berry who was a newspaper publisher from Merthyr Tydfil. However, in 2019, former chairman Rafi Razak forced them out of their home and attempted to sell the ground, although planning permission for a housing development was refused. In the meantime, the ground was left to rot and fell victim to vandalism. Razak had sold the ground to another of his companies - Baron Development and was also the owner of a company called Centerprise who sponsored the club in the late 1990s. Basingstoke Town were forced to relocate to Winchester City for a couple of seasons until the Hampshire FA stepped in with a stopgap plan. The FA often get things wrong, but in this case, they came up trumps, upgrading their nearby Winklebury headquarters to become compliant for step 4 football at least. The intention is still to return home at some point - with a covenant on the Camrose until 2053 and with the council owning nearly a third of the site, it's all a question of money.

All this upheaval has had an effect on on-pitch matters. The club had been at step 2 for a large portion of their history, playing in the Isthmian Premier and then the Conference South continuously from 1997 until 2016, the highlight being a 3rd place finish in the Isthmian Premier in 2001. The decline started in 2016 when they finished bottom of the Conference South - just a year after missing out in the promotion playoffs after another third-place finish. After a couple of mid-table finishes, in the Southern Premier, the club was relegated again in 2019, this time to the Southern D1 South. The last two seasons have been interrupted by Covid and have seen vastly different fortunes for Basingstoke Town. The 2019/20 season saw them second-bottom after 27 games and in real danger of another relegation. The season just gone saw a vast improvement with the team third after 7 games.

A little bit about the town of Basingstoke. It has a population of just under 114,000. The town has a college, attended by Rodney Trotter (fictionally) before he was kicked out for taking drugs. IN real life, author Jane Austen, DJ Steve Lamacq and footballer Tom Cleverley have connections to the town. There have been other football clubs in Basingstoke in the past. A club known as RS Basingstoke and DC Basingstoke at various points played at the Whiteditch Playing Fields. They competed in the Combined Counties, Hellenic and Chiltonian Leagues. There was also an AFC Basingstoke that played in the Hampshire League. In other sports, there is a rugby club and the Basingstoke Bisons play Ice Hockey at the Planet Ice Silverdome.

View my blog from my Camrose visits HERE


MY VISIT

I was keen to do a game in the car today, for two reasons. Firstly I was looking to cut down my boozing a little and so didn't want to go for the pre-match pub crawl that a train trip would involve. There was also the England game, and I wanted to be back in plenty of time for kick-off. My plans changed several times, as there was not the greatest choice of games. Right up until the day of the game, I'd planned a double of Forest Row (at Oakwood FC) and Snodland Town. However, a combination of it being played on the outside pitch and forecast rain made me change the plans. I awoke on the day at 8.30 after just over five hours of sleep, but I felt fine. With storm warnings coming up on my phone, I took a closer look and found that it was raining all game. Normally, I'd be happy to count the outside pitch as the main ground, with a view to going back for a revisit. I did the same for Wembley FC in 2012, going back in 2016 and was rewarded with a brilliant 4-4 draw on my second game. I was originally going with Giles, a Chesham fan, so I contacted him to let him know my change of plan. Though tickets were available on the day, I decided to buy online, despite it being 50p extra. I spent the morning doing my research for the game, deciding to go and have a look at Basingstoke's old Camrose Ground on the way. They had been forced out of their ground by a bad owner but I'd been on my way to a revisit in 2017. However, less than an hour before kick-off, a fussy referee called the game off after a light dusting of snow.


I'd usually go for a walk on a Saturday morning, but a combination of laziness and grim weather meant that I didn't bother. I left home at 12.05 and had planned to stop at the Camrose en route but the traffic was so bad I saved it for after. I still went to Lidl though, getting some cans for later as well as a few things from the bakery for lunch. I got to the designated car park at 1.40 and from there it was a pleasant ten minutes walk through a park to the ground. The car park meant for officials still had plenty of space though. I showed my ticket to get in and got some pictures of the ground which was better than expected and looked good enough for step 2 football. I had lunch while I waited for the game to start. There were around 90 in attendance for this game, the vast majority for Basingstoke but a few for North Greenford. As it turned out, the vast majority would go home pretty happy.


There was no team information that I could see, so this match report is a bit vague. The hosts took the lead after six minutes, the ball was hit home via the bar from around the penalty spot. The second Basingstoke goal was a well-worked goal and a finish from a tight angle. This prompted a flurry of goals. The third came soon after, a quickly executed goal and a finish from around the same place as the second.  The fourth goal a minute or so after that, a shot from the edge of the area. It was 5-0 before halftime. A player cut in and curled a low shot past the keeper from just outside the area. Basingstoke could have had a sixth before halftime, but the excellent shot hit the angle of post and bar before being cleared. The first half had been totally one-sided, but North Greenford were vastly improved in the second period. Even though, they went 6-0 down on 48 minutes, #17 finishing from a tight angle into the bottom left-hand corner. The visitors finally had something to cheer on 52 minutes. A square ball from the left found #12 who slotted home at the back post.  The six-goal lead was soon restored when #7 shot home on the turn for Basingstoke. #17 got his second for North Greenford on 71 minutes, a good finish, even if the marking was a bit slack. The visitors continued to have chances but it was Basingstoke Town who grabbed two more, firstly on 75 minutes with a scuffed shot and the five minutes from time when a shot went straight through the visiting keeper at his near post.


It was 3.40 when the game ended, so I walked back to my car. I had a look in the bar, it had a couple of boxes of what appeared to be real cider on the counter, but this was just ale. I headed to the Camrose Ground to get some pictures. The site was now a car wash, but the ground was easily accessible. I then headed to a local Co-Op in search of local cider. It looked like a right grotty area and I wasn't surprised when my search drew a blank. I headed for home, getting back at 5.30. I sorted out my photos, started typing my blog and had my dinner whilst watching the Czech Republic v Denmark game. Denmark progressed 2-1, just as I was finalising this blog. I then had a programme to scan in that I'd sold on eBay as well as this match report to upload before the England game came on.

View my photo album from today HERE


THE GROUND

WINKLEBURY is a smart complex, situated in pleasant parkland around a couple of miles from town. There are areas of cover on three sides. The main stand is the most impressive, holding around 100 officials in an elevated area plus standing space for normal fans below. There's a seated area for around 150 behind one goal and a standing area for around 200 behind the other. The rest of the ground is open. There's a decent tea bar inside, plus a basic bar outside. Also nearby are the likes of KFC, McDonald's and Lidl. There are nearer the official parking for fans, which is around ten minutes walk away through a pleasant park. 

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