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Tuesday 5th December 2016 ko 19.45

Hellenic League- Premier Division

BRACKNELL TOWN 3 (Grant 9 Bowerman 59p Maloney 90)

BINFIELD 2 (Rodrigues 49og White 63)

Att 476

Entry & Programme £5

One of the more intriguing stories in the Hellenic this season has been Bracknell Town’s new ground. Now in groundhopping terms it’s a rebuild, the pitch at Larges Lane hasn’t moved, but save for the bar area everything is new, including a jazzy new 3G pitch. 

I remember my first encounter with Larges Lane; I’d turned up at Binfield‘s Hill Farm Lane ground expecting an unfloodlit 6.30pm kick off and it was only a discarded programme left at the deserted ground that the tie was being played in nearby Bracknell! At least the 7.45pm kick off allowed me to correct my mistake!

With my GroundhopUK hat on, we visited Bracknell Town in September 2010 as part of the Hellenic Hop. That I remember for being a difficult event to put together, although the Friday game at Didcot Casuals did introduce the North Berkshire League to many!

The Hellenic league didn’t want us to pad out the Saturday by featuring a Berks and Bucks Intermediate Cup game featuring South Reading vs Woodley Town as the hosts weren’t in Hellenic membership, so we went to Finchampstead, Reading Town and finished here, with a Hellenic Premier game against Shortwood United. The visitors won 3-2 salving their reluctance to play on Saturday evening, but unquestionably the star of the show was the club cat!

Larges Lane reflected Bracknell’s past membership of both the Southern and Isthmian Leagues, but as quirky and atmospheric as it was it did need a revamp. That refresh came by selling a parcel of land by the near goal, then demolishing virtually everything else!

The plan is a community footballing hub with the club at its centre, and the blueprints are certainly impressive. The club played all of its home games this season at Sandhurst Town the aim being to return in September. That got delayed, as building works often do, so this game was penciled in, and let’s face it a massive local derby is a fitting way to return!

Now here’s the thing, I turned up thinking it would feel like ticking off a new ground even if in geographical terms it wouldn’t be the case. And while much has changed, and much is still to do, the feel of the place was exactly the same, even though I’ve not seen this many people here before!

It certain caught the imagination of the Bracknell area and the club coped admirably with the huge crowd, although I do wonder how the ground might cope with a return to either the Southern or Isthmian Leagues. The footprint pitchside isn’t huge and the scope to add cover behind either goal looks limited. But let’s live for the moment, the ground represents a leap forward for Bracknell Town, and that pitch will bring in valuable income.

And it was definitely Bracknell’s night, and that comes from someone who holds both Binfield and manager Roger Herridge in extremely high regard.  Perhaps on a night like this Kensley Maloney’s classy late strike was a case of the footballing gods smiling on a club that’s known struggle. Mind you Binfield are carrying out improvements so the gods ought to smile on them for the return fixture; it would only be fair!

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