|Welcome signs old and new at Bracknell Town FC.|
My workmate (we'll call him Cyril - not his real name) refused to have one, despite being a good pal of the birthday boy. He insisted that food with holes was "just plain wrong" - no other reason, just "plain wrong". Of course, we had to go through every hole-ridden food we could think of to test him out...Polo mints, pretzels, spaghetti hoops (and what about letters with holes in Alphabetti Spaghetti? Your B's and P's, etc? Are E's and Y's okay to eat?).
Of course, in the end, he had to admit to liking some of these foods. I mean, how can Party Rings be wrong? We found more holes in his argument than there are in a kilo of emmenthal.
|Bracknell Town FC's main stand is dwarfed by a nearby college building.|
Bracknell Town FC (1) 1 v 2 (0) Hartley Wintney FC
FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round
Saturday 21st September 2013
Attendance: Overheard a club official saying they'd broken the 100 barrier.
Programme: £1 (superb, the best I've seen since Hartley Wintney's two seasons ago)
Colours: All red v All blue
National Grid reference: SU8768 / SU8769
|The Stripey End...|
Hmmm, not really, unless you count the blackberries growing wild at Bracknell's Larges Lane ground as non-holey food - I think Cyril would like them.
Reader: Oh, come on, tell us why you were there...
Okay, I travelled outside of Hampshire for the first time in this blog's history because I'm attempting to follow Hampshire clubs in the FA Vase this season. Doesn't matter where they play, so long as I can get there and back in reasonable time - I won't be travelling to the north-east, for example, if any of the county's teams are drawn to play the likes of Billingham Synthonia or Whitley Bay in a later round. That's not going to happen for a while though, as the rounds are drawn on a regional basis for the time being.
It was Hartley Wintney's turn this time out.
|...Oh, hang on, it's actually Tractor Corner!|
Yes, they played at a higher level than their current status suggests for around a quarter of a century. They were relegated to the Hellenic League in 2010. Because they played in the Southern and Isthmian Leagues for so long, Larges Lane is relatively well-developed for a step 5 club.
You enter via one of three beautifully preserved "proper" turnstiles (not one of those rubbish modern contraptions that you have to swipe a barcode to enter). Immediately to your left as you go in is a small brick-built stand which houses the directors and around 50 fans on red or white plastic seats. In front of this stand are a pair of disused dugouts - no longer needed in these days of multiple substitutes.
Moving along clockwise, you come to a second well-built stand, with around 100 red plastic seats. The poles holding up the roof are made of wood and have been painted bright red over the summer. Very smart.
|A view along the side of Larges Lane showing the two seated areas and (just visible), one of the covered standing areas.|
Yes, the blackberries are over the far side from the two stands. Rotting away, they were. If you enjoy free wild fruit at football grounds, get to Larges Lane as soon as possible. And bring an ice cream tub or something similar if you want to take some home. I'm sure the club won't mind.
Reader: Mmm, I fancy some of that. Anything else worth mentioning about the ground or the town itself?
Yes, there's plenty more to look at. There are two covered three-step terraces - the one behind the goal is painted in fetching red and white stripes. A local character has his own seat made out of an upturned crate or something similar at this end. He'll probably say hello to you as you walk past. The other terrace contains a press box for two reporters, one of whom brings his westie to the match.
There's also a cosy clubhouse and a rusty roller (although the roller is locked away in a compound and difficult to spot). It's a nice ground.
As for Bracknell itself, I don't know much. It was mostly built in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a new town (the football club is much older - there was a village there before Bracknell New Town was built around it). There are 79 subways. And it was the home of the Met Office before it was relocated to Exeter.
|Question: What's a dog's favourite county? Answer: Barkshire!|
Hey, you should be writing this, not me. Anyway, Bracknell got off to a breezy start, scoring after five minutes with a bolt from the blue, and by the glistening rainbow beard of Roy G Biv, it was a terrific goal - a thunderous volley from just inside the box.
Their high pressure start nearly paid off again five minutes later, but the linesman rained on their parade by raising his flag for offside.
Hartley Wintney weathered the early storm, but the outlook was grim for them. The rest of the first half descended into the doldrums with no more goals for either side. However, this was the calm before the force ten gale. Despite being a goal to the good, there were clouds on the horizon for the home side.
|Tackling and leaping action as Bracknell Town win the ball.|
Lightning struck a second time seven minutes later with a long ball out of defence and an ice-cold finish past the home side's netminder. More goals were confidently forecast, but none came.
In the last ten minutes, Bracknell flooded forward looking for a second goal which would have taken the tie into extra-time. They hit the bar and had the follow-up shot cleared off the line, but that was that.
Deep depression for the Robins of Bracknell Town as they exited the Vase. A blue sky day for Hampshire heroes Hartley Wintney.
Right, there must be more weather-related football expressions. What did I miss?
|Bracknell Town's press box, post-match.|
The nine ties involving Hampshire clubs are:
Newhaven v Cove
Winchester City v Sholing
Kidlington v Lymington Town
Highmoor Ibis v Folland Sports
Abingdon United v Fareham Town
Hartley Wintney v Petersfield Town
Moneyfields v Christchurch
Bradford Town v AFC Portchester
Alresford Town v Hythe & Dibden
I hope to be at one of these on October 19th.
Reader: Glad to hear that, but please don't go off on one about Party Rings and emmenthal next time, eh?
Bracknell Town's report of the match can be found on their website here.