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Tuesday 23rd December 2014 ko 19.45

Southern League Premier Division

BANBURY UNITED 0

BURNHAM 2 (N Webb 31 J Webb 61)

Att 188

Entry £10

Programme £1

I think Banbury gets a bad press it doesn’t really deserve. Yes I know Gary Glitter was born here, and Patricia Amos, the first person to be sent to prison for failing to send her children to school is a Banburian, and the odour of coffee from the factory does waft over the M40 as you drive past, but there’s more to the town that just those facts.

Perhaps the problem is that like many towns, you have to scratch a little. Remember the “Ride a cock horse” nursery rhyme? Well follow the A423 though the town, and there’s the cross (not the original, that used to be close to what’s now the shopping centre)  in the middle of a roundabout. Look out too for the fine lady (Godiva) statue by its side including the little frog at the horse’s hoof! Ever bought a loaf of “Fine Lady” bread? That’s from Banbury too.

Now let’s get one thing straight here, I’m biased, I lived here for 8 years, finally leaving in 2011, so I really do know what its like to wake up and smell the coffee! But for me the town should best be known for Folk music, after all Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival takes place only around 5 miles out of town, and Banbury Arts Centre is worth a visit as often a Fairport side-project is playing!

Another Banburian gem is undoubtedly Spencer Stadium, at the bottom of Station Approach. Just aim for the railway station, and bear right following the signs. Railtrack thankfully retarmacked the road but the car park still retains the, er, undulating surface, so perhaps those with low-slung cars ought to park at Morrison’s and walk through the Tramway Industrial Estate.

Don’t wait too long either, as the club are only here in a rolling short-term lease, the landlord would like to extend the industrial estate and the club are hoping to get a new ground as part of the planning gain from a housing development on the southern edge of town.

Apart from being a former local, what I love Banbury United for is that they do the little things really well. How can you not like a club whose programme’s front cover has the legend, “The Gay Puritans” with a cartoon of, “Hanging the cat of a Monday for the killing of a mouse on Sunday?” My £1 bought a 24 page magazine with only one-and-a-half pages of adverts. Little wonder it wins awards!

The problem Banbury have is on the pitch. After a brush with near-bankruptcy in the early 1990’s they have learned to live within their means, but the Southern League Premier is a big ask for them. This is their twelfth season in the division, and the club does tend to struggle, a 7th place finish being a high point in 2005-6. No such luck this season, they are rock bottom and this loss to second from bottom Burnham was a real sickener for a team so obviously lacking an experienced ex-pro to give leadership and at times steel to a young side.

Burnham won the game by bullying Banbury, sometimes by fair means, sometimes by foul and the Gay Puritans’ cause wasn’t helped by some fairly eccentric refereeing. However the away win was the correct result even if at times it felt like watching a young child being beaten up for his dinner money.

And I ought to be rounding this off by hoping Banbury will manage to regroup in the lower division next season, but football being football on Boxing Day Banbury travelled to play-off Cirencester Town and won 5-1!

I’d love to think Banbury could stay up, the demise of Hereford United means only 3 will go down after all. Although I saw nothing on this cold evening to suggest they can, you just hope they can, the place has that effect on you….