Saturday 28 January 2023

Buckland Athletic - Homers Heath

Buckland Athletic FC
Homers Heath Stadium
Kingskerswell Road
Newton Abbot 
TQ12 5JU

01626 361020

Ground Number: 1145
Saturday 28th January 2023
Buckland Athletic 1-3 Ascot United
FA Vase 4th Round


The club was established in 1977 as a youth team and joined the Torbay Pioneer League. They then joined Division Three of the Devon & Exeter League in 1987. They won the division at the first attempt and were promoted to Division Two. They were promoted again the following season, moving up to Division One. A fourth-place finish in Division One in 1993 saw Buckland promoted to the Premier Division. They went on to win the Premier Division in 1995 and then again in 2000 after which they moved up to the Devon County League. They were runners-up in their debut season behind Willand Rovers but that was as good as it got for the time being. In 2007, the league merged with the South West League to become the South West Peninsula League. They did well here, winning the Division in 2010 and 2011. However, it wasn't until the following year that they were promoted after following as runners-up behind Bodmin Town. They've been in the Western League ever since, their best finish coming in 2015 when they finished as runners-up behind Melksham Town.

Buckland United's best run in the FA Cup came in 2012. They beat Bridport, Hengrove Athletic and Plymouth Parkway before a narrow 2-1 defeat at home to relative giants Bath City. The best FA Vase run was achieved during the 2016/17 season. They beat Sholing, Newport IOW, Horsham YMCA Chichester City and Hinckley prior to a 2-0 defeat at Bromsgrove Sporting in the Quarter Final. League cup wins are numerous and include the SWP Thogmorton Cup in 2010. the SWP Charity Bowl in 2009 and 2012 and the Devon & Exeter League Premier Cup in 1998 & 1999. They've also won the Devon St Lukes Bowl in 2011 & 2012, the East Devon Senior Cup in 1996 and the Football Express Cup in 1995. The club initially played at Sandringham Park, before moving to Decoy during the 1990–91 season. Within two years they moved to Homers Lane. In 2005 the club relocated to their current Homers Heath ground on Kingkerswell Road. The ground was officially opened by Steve Perryman prior to a friendly match against Plymouth Argyle. The market town of Newton Abbot has a population of just over 25,000 and is situated near the River Lemon, part of the River Teign. It's home to one of only two cider houses in the UK and as well as Buckland Athletic, The market town of Newton Abbot has a population of just over 25,000 and is situated near the River Lemon, part of the River Teign. It's home to one of only two cider houses in the UK and as well as Buckland Athletic, Newton Abbot Spurs also play in the town.


Originally on Saturday 21st, I'd been struggling to find a game that suited my needs. These are fairly basic for a Saturday game - something on public transport with a decent pre-match pub or two. With me having done a fair amount of grounds, the only step 6 and above grounds would either involve a long and pricey journey or didn't have much around them. Therefore, it would have to be step 7 or below and I found an ideal one in Yateley United v Wargrave. It would have meant a drive but I had already researched their history thanks to an earlier abandoned visit. I fancied a trip down to Buckland Athletic as they took on Ascot United as the visitors were offering a free coach. This would have saved me a bundle and I was all set to make the trip with fellow hoppers Dan & Richard who were also set to take advantage. However, they pulled out on Friday afternoon and it was probably for the best. Bristol Rovers v Wycombe was postponed early afternoon and games were dropping like flies. I was glad some were making early decisions, but I couldn't help feeling some were jumping the gun.

There was at least promising news from someone at Yateley United. They said that the pitch was in great condition but I was still keeping a level head so as not to be disappointed. I'd attempted to visit back in November only to have Wraysbury Village pull out on the day of the game, saying that they were unable to raise a team. It was frustrating, but I went to AFC Caddington instead. In case of a late change this time, I had FC Beaconsfield, Camden United and Great Missenden in reserve. Friday night was spent relaxing with a few drinks. I had intended to go to Southwell City on Friday night but I pulled out before it was inevitably cancelled. The day of the game came and I retained the 7.30 alarm that I'd set. After a bath, breakfast and getting dressed, I walked down town and went to Lidl to get various bits. Whilst I was down there, my decision to give Buckland the swerve was vindicated as it was called off shortly before midday. There were tons of others being called off too and I was concerned about my game. However, my fears were allayed when Yateley United confirmed that the game was on. The only thing was that it was all a bit of a rush to cook the Fajitas I'd bought for lunch as I thought I'd have to head elsewhere, the news came through a few minutes after I put them in the oven!

It was all for nothing though. I set off as late as possible, due to arrive bang on the kickoff. However, ten minutes before kickoff, the referee decided to call the game off. It was a decision backed by the away side but I was stranded as far as my original backups were concerned. The nearest backup at Wokingham & Emmbrook was called off on my 15-minute journey there. It was then a choice of Burnham or Slough for a 3G revisit. I opted for the former, arriving right on kickoff and seeing an excellent 2-2 draw with North Greenford. What would have been a 25-mile round trip from home turned into a 68-mile drive, but at least I'd seen a game. The week started off well as Wycombe recorded a 2-0 win over Oxford United. This was the best day of 2023 so far for me in what has been a disappointing year, with the rotten weather. There was also the nice bonus of having my Aunt's Boxer dog puppy, Barkley. He was a lovely boy to have around, though quite a bit of work. Fellow hopper Dan was indecisive as ever, with us originally pencilling in Bournemouth a few weeks ago. He flip-flopped over the week alternating between the Leicester City training ground, Racing Club Warwick and Buckland, eventually plumping for the latter. I was just as bad, for a long time, I fancied a game at Ware Sports and staying local. However, as time went on and Buckland had taken extra precautions, I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss.

I had a couple of drinks on Friday night although was sensible and in bed by 10:30. I got to sleep around midnight, waking around 7. After a quick freshen-up, I got dressed and had breakfast before leaving at 7.50. I picked Colin up nearby and we were at Ascot United by 8.35. We met Dan, Richard and Scott (a great Leyton Orient fan) who were coming along for the trip. Details had come out for the Scottish hop, a reasonable £259 each for my and Colin's shared room. I'd have to wait for my money though as Colin takes all of his money out of the bank, stores it in his flat and only pays it in when he needs to buy something. Bizarre. The coach left at 9.10 with everyone in decent spirits. Everyone was very friendly and together, we planned a trip to Cwmbran Celtic v TNS next Saturday. We stopped briefly at Gordano Services where I picked up some cider. I also took out some cash, just in case. Much to my chagrin there was a £2 charge and it turned out that Buckland had card machines anyway. We were there at 1.15 and having seen the great food and drink on offer, I headed straight in. £8 entry, £1.50 programme, £1 50/50 ticket, £4 giant chilli hot dog, £3 curry sauce and chips and a £5 pint of Devon mist including a souvenir glass. The food was incredible and a contender for the best of the season. The programme was also brilliant and the bar was a good place too. There was also a decent second pitch, discovered as we explored the ground.
Buckland Athletic sat 5th in the Western Premier. They had been exempt to the 2nd Round, beating Cullompton Rangers in front of 104 fans. 180 had seen them defeat Laverstock & Ford 3-0 to reach today's game. Ascot United were top of the Combined Counties North, having won 16 out of 18 games. Despite this, they'd started in the 2nd Qualifying Round where they'd won 5-1 at Long Crendon. They then smashed AEK Boco 10-1 before a narrow 1-0 win at Newport IOW. A 3-0 win at Broadbridge Heath was followed up by a 4-0 win over Little Common in front of 107. Ascot started well on top but there were not many clear-cut chances. Ascot got the opener in first-half injury time, Sean McCormack thrashing home a loose ball. It was 2-0 a minute after, and Brendan Matthew headed home from a corner. Jordan Ajenlekoko smashed home a clearance to make it 3-0 on 52 minutes. Jamie Ashdown, a 42-year-old keeper who I saw play for Reading reserves against Wycombe back in the day, kept the hosts at bay with some good saves. In injury time Jared Lewington pulled one back for Buckland but it was not enough for them as they had been second-best throughout the game. 

That was not to say that Buckland had not been great hosts though. They had been gracious in defeat, aside from their abrasive number 5 who had plenty to say. He'd actually had a good game including an excellent clearance off the line but it didn't stop him from shouting abuse at the visiting fans. 212 was the attendance with around 30 of them supporting the visitors. Ascot United had been an amazing club to travel with, the players shook our hands and thanked us for coming. Which was mad seeing as we'd only been here to scrounge a free lift, although we turned into Ascot fans for the day. They were in jubilant spirits, quite rightly and so it wasn't until 6.10 that we left. I enjoyed joining in with all the singing and held off doing my blog until I got back home. A stop at a half-open Gordano services yielded a bottle of Irn Bru as the food offerings were dire and half of it was closed. After a drop-off, we were back in Ascot by 9.45. It was straight to Colin's via some very minor roads where I got the money for the Scottish Hop, all in cash, I was back home by 10:50, having had a fantastic day. A couple of bottles were had whilst I sorted my photos and finalised my blog.


I first visited HOMERS HEATH in September 2020 whilst in the town watching Newton Abbot Spurs. A very pleasant afternoon was spent visiting the Devon FA Ground and Buckland Athletic, the latter being around half an hour's walk from the town. A smart stand holding around 150 was supplemented by covered standing for around 100. The rest of the ground was open and well-kept.

Not much had changed upon my second visit. But a chance to explore the club, full of great people like any non-league side. The food was sensationally good and the bar was very pleasant. Three ciders from Sandford Orchards based in Crediton 25 miles away were available, plus some real ales. Also, a reasonable range of merch. There was also an excellent second pitch, worth a hop in its own right. All in all, well worth a visit, even if it's a bit further from town than I'd like.