Tuesday 16 August 2022

Lambourn Sports - Lambourn Sports Club

Lambourn Sports FC
Lambourn Sport Club
10 Bockhampton Rd
RG17 8PS

Ground Number: 1098
Tuesday 16th August 2022
Lambourn Sports 1-0 East Hendred


Lambourn FC was established in 1909, using the current ground for the whole of its existence. The club's red and white shirts were originally used when the well-known jockey Tommy Robbins, donated the red and white kit to the club. In 1946, they adopted the name of Lambourn Sports, bringing together the various sports club that played on the site. In 1955, the club purchased their home for £700, having previously rented it. In 1961, the club made the step up to the Hellenic League. Starting in Division 1, they finished as runners-up to Botley United in their debut season. A 10th place finish was a solid start at the higher level but results soon tailed off and they were relegated to Division 1 in 1967 before leaving the league altogether in 1972 to join the North Berks League. They'd remain there until 1977, rejoining the Hellenic League and remaining in Division 1 until 1982 when they were champions. They'd only last one season in the Premier Division this time, finishing bottom of the league and winning twice all season. It would take until 1995 for them to return, this time finishing 3rd behind Endsleigh and Milton United. The 1995/96 season was the best in the club's history as they finished 3rd in the Premier Division behind Cirencester Town and Brackley Town. They'd spend one more season in the Hellenic League before departing in 1997 for financial reasons. They joined the North Berks League Division 4 and won that and Divisions 3 and 2 in consecutive seasons, They then won Division 1 (and therefore were league champions) in 2006, 2008 & 2011. The latter of these titles saw them briefly join the Hellenic League for a couple of seasons, having mid-table finishes in each of the regional Division 1s. Player availability was an issue and this led to them resigning and ultimately resigning from the North Berks D1 midway through the following season. Returning in Division 2 in 2014, they'd win the title at their first attempt. Though they finished bottom of Division 1 in 2017, they'd remain there until 2021 when they dropped down to Division 2 despite finishing 6th. Last season they finished in 6th place in Division 2.

Lambourn Sports' only venture into the FA Competitions came in 1996 when they lost 1-0 to Bournemouth Poppies in the FA Vase. Local cup wins include the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy in 1995, the Reading Senior Cup in 1960, the North Berks Cup in 2006, the North Berks Charity Shield three times and the North Berks War Memorial Cup twice. The most famous person associated with the club is Swindon Town legend Don Rogers whose two extra-time goals helped the Robins overcome Arsenal 3-1 in the 1969 League Cup final. He bought plenty of success to Lambourne Sports as manager between 1990 & 1996 before moving on to manage Swindon Supermarine and Hungerford Town. He runs a well-renowned sports shop in Swindon to this day. 

The village of Lambourn has a population of around 4,100 and the football ground is also currently home to former Hellenic side Newbury Town after they were sold down the river by their local council. On 8 September 1944, a stricken B-24 Liberator flown by 2nd Lt Lawrence Berkoff DFC  was returning from an aborted mission. Berkoff maintained control of the plane so that his crew could parachute to safety over Baydon, but saw that if he bailed out the plane would crash into Lambourn. He, therefore, remained at the controls to divert the aircraft and was killed when it crash-landed in a field on Folly Road at 10:45 pm, missing the village by a few hundred yards. Berkoff was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross and a plaque in his honour was unveiled by his great nephew, Todd Berkoff, at Lambourn Memorial Hall on 26 June 2003. On Tuesday 13 April 1953 an articulated lorry carrying aviation fuel suffered brake failure as it came down Hungerford Hill (now the B4000). Despite the best efforts of the driver, it hit several buildings before overturning on Oxford Street. The lorry exploded, destroying the tobacconist's, confectioner's, watchmaker's, jeweller's and antique dealer's shops, but only the driver was killed. The burning fuel set fire to three houses, two thatched cottages and several flats, and 37 people were made homeless. It also flowed down the street and into the River Lambourn and set fire to property up to 50 yards away until the Newbury, Hungerford, Wantage, Swindon and Faringdon fire brigades helped the local brigade quench the fire. The village has strong racing connections with it being near Newbury Racecourse and several famous jockeys have lived in the village.


I only found about about this game the day before. I'd seen their ground on a YouTube channel called 'Groundhopping FC' when he did a football grounds tour of Berkshire, however, sadly the channel has now been deleted. But nevertheless, I'd been looking out for an opportunity for a while and I initially thought that I'd found it when I saw in the Football Traveller that the winners of the Wantage Town Development v Lambourn Sports would be at home to Saxton Rovers on this Tuesday in the Faringdon Thursday Memorial Cup. It would be perfect as I was in Oxford in the afternoon and halfway there. However, as excellent as the Twitter account was, it bought me the bad news that Wantage had won. I pencilled in a revisit to Flackwell Heath but kept Lambourn Sports on my Twitter shortlist. On Monday night they tweeted that they were looking for a referee, then an announcement that they had a game against East Hendred. They were super helpful on Twitter and very communicative, so I planned my trip with some confidence.

 I'd been to one match since my last groundhop. It had all been going so well at first. I'd met up with Colin and we walked down to my usual pre-match pub, The Rose and Crown. We met up with Dan who was on his way to Marlow and had a good catch-up. I had a nice lunch and the match started well with Wycombe leading. In fact I was delighted up until 16:23 when Shrewsbury scored their equaliser with their first shot on target of the game. When they netted a penalty with their second shot on target, my mood was not so good with the dreaded Sunday coming up. Shrewsbury, credit to them had hung on in there, defended like warriors and then taken their chances. It didn't lighten my mood or the costs on my footy spreadsheet -  whenever we lose, thankfully rarely, the whole costs of my eating and drinking get added. I searched for a reason, other than football being football and sadly, poor Colin is going to have to cop the blame for this one. Being a superstitious sort with my lucky pub, takeaway, shirt, bag etc, I noticed that we had lost all three times I'd spent my pre-match with Colin. As a result, I doubt I'll go to the uninspiring League Cup game against Bristol City as I think the break from Wycombe will do me good.
The day of the game came and it was my usual day off work. I didn't need anything from town, so I just walked around the local area for four miles or so. When I came back, I started researching the club as well as having something to eat. This took longer than expected and I hadn't quite finished it when it was time to leave at 2pm. It was a good journey over after getting petrol and everything was well handled at the hospital thanks to our wonderful NHS. I left just after 4 and had a good journey over to Lambourn via some nice scenic villages. The heavens opened as I got to Lambourn and so rather than having a pleasant stroll into the village, I took shelter in the car. The car park at the ground was quite small and so I parked on the road outside. The rain was still pelting down and I got soaked when I went out to take pictures. Going back to the car, I started making plans of what to do should the game be called off due to the grey skies or wet, with my nearest unticked ground on Futbology being a fair way away at Downton in Salisbury. However, I knew that Devizes were at home too and that was nearer.
As it turned out, I needn't have worried. East Hendred had travelled 13 miles for today's game. Hosts Lambourn Sports lined up in red and white stripes whilst East Hendred were in blue and black stripes. The game kicked off a few minutes early at 6.27 and it was East Hendred who had the better of the play early on. Lambourn were not without their chances and they lobbed narrowly over following a break on 23 minutes. Five minutes later, a sloppy backpass by the hosts allowed the visitors' number 9 in. He was denied by the keeper who stood his ground and would not let the forward pass. Despite claims for a penalty, an indirect free kick was awarded on the edge of the area but this came to nothing. Lambourn Sports took the lead on 57 minutes following a goal on the break. It was an attack down the right and there were three players queueing up to put the ball in the net from a few yards out. East Hendred were a more direct side whilst Lambourn were more about passing. The visitors had chances but the hosts came close to doubling their lead on 69 minutes when they shaved the top of the bar with a shot. East Hendred hit the bar themselves with ten minutes to go from a long-range effort. In fact, there were plenty of chances for both, but I've never been one to write a comprehensive match report.

Around 40 had been in attendance and it had been a really good game. The ref was quite lenient and despite a few moans from either side, the game was played in a good spirit. I'd got a bit peckish during the game but thankfully had some crisps with me. Thankfully the rain eased off too and I spent most of the game standing alongside the pitch. I left at 8.05 and put the Wycombe game on the radio. The first half was BBC Radio Devon commentary until I got nearer home and was able to pick up our local station. I was in at 9.15. It was another disappointing Wycombe performance with them being 2-0 down at the break. They did pull a goal back in the second half but more sloppy defending saw Exeter win 3-1. I felt sorry for the Wycombe fans that had travelled, our failure to replace lost players is costing us. At least they got to see a game. The EFL's daft policy of putting long trips in midweek saw Accrington travel down to Forest Green only to see the game called off a little more than an hour before kick-off. It had been a good game for me and hopefully, I'll have a couple of revisits before my next new ground at Kimberley Miners Welfare on Saturday.


LAMBOURN SPORTS CLUB is an excellent venue for the level, having been as high as the Hellenic Premier at one point. The only thing stopping them now is the lack of lights as the setup is certainly there. There is a decent-sized stand at the ground, holding at least 50 and although this is a temporary structure, it's not the standard metal type. There are also further small areas of cover and the pitch is fully railed. For food and drink, there is a decent-sized village not far away which has a decent selection of outlets. Sadly rain and lack of hunger prevented me from sampling them, although the Nippy Chippy looked to do some good stuff, not far from the ground. The bar was open on my visit, normally only from Wednesday until Sunday but it opened halfway through the first half. I didn't go in, but you can get a drink, at least, in there. Overall. the ground was well worth a visit, a friendly club and a nice village are a bonus too.

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