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Wednesday 2nd April 2014 ko 18.20

Spartan South Midlands League Division 2

HALE LEYS UNITED 6 (Woodfine 7 18 Castello 25 Kew 30 65 Williams 80)

WILLEN 0

Att 22

Entry FREE

No Programme

Tea £1

The Fairford Football Pitches are to be found on the south-western edge of Aylesbury. Its a new-build estate, and the mixture of private and social housing with a shopping centre in the middle is the kind of development that could be almost anywhere in England, and immediately reminded me of a visit I made to watch Banbury-based Hanwell United last year. That like this facility, and the adjacent golf club are the result of “Planning Gain” where a council insists on an amenity being built in exchange for planning permission being granted.

With the clocks having gone forward, the possibility of watching evening games on grounds without floodlights comes into play. Groundhoppers call this time of year, “Silly Season,” a term often seen as slightly insulting by the clubs, even though it refers to the lengths hoppers will travel to get a game in when suddenly the choice of midweek fixtures is massive! The fact there was a hopper from Norfolk and another from Suffolk illustrated the point.

We saw two clubs with different aspirations, one having crossed their own Rubicon, the other debating whether to. Willen entered Saturday football for the first time for this season, their previous football being in the Milton Keynes Sunday League. They’ve found it a struggle with just the reformed Brimsdown below them in the table. In contrast Hale Leys entered the league in 2011, and have progressed steadily finishing 8th last season, and this time round they’re third with games in hand. That fact gives the club a real dilemma, stood as they are on the metaphorical banks of the Rubicon.

The facilities at Fairford Leys are basic to put it mildly; there are no pitchside facilities at all and the there’s quite a distance to the changing room block. To get promoted the club will either need to build from scratch or secure a groundshare locally, presumably at Aylesbury FC. They’d like to develop a parcel land of land near to the changing area, but that will require both finance and planning permission, neither being straightforward to obtain these days. If the title is won then one thing they will have is time; league rules give a champion club 3 years to get a compliant ground, and if obtained the club will be promoted irrespective of subsequent league position.

They certainly made short work of a spirited but lacking Willen side on a evening where the gathering gloom was exacerbated by, and I never thought I’d ever get to type this, Saharan sand in the atmosphere, yes that’s why some of the pictures have a slightly yellow hue! The goals came in straightforward regularity and whilst Willen fought with no little spirit, they offered little resistance and had no means of imposing their will on the game.

I departed via a truly lousy chip shop pondering the future for both of these sides. For Willen, as long as they can stick together they’ll be able to build on this first season. For Hale Leys, there’s many more factors. Are they ready off the field for promotion, and if so can they get the correct ground? So many options…..