Saturday 27th April 2013 ko 15.00
Southern League Premier Division
BASHLEY 2 (Gamble 49 90p)
BANBURY UNITED 0
In groundhopper parlance the Vulture Job is visiting a ground purely because it’s about to disappear. And which ever way you look at it that’s the case with Bashley’s Recreation Ground or is it? The waters seem a little muddy.
The club play in the grounds behind the village hall (no cats?!!!). The hall was built in 1946 and 1948 an additional 3.5 acres were purchased “to enhance the life of the inhabitants of Bashley.” A lease was granted to the football club to use the grounds and it would appear that the relationship between the two is the root of the club’s move two and a half miles to Wessex League outfit New Milton Town’s Fawcett’s Field. That in turn creates two issues, firstly the FA has banned mergers that would allow a club to improve their standing by artificial means, and secondly Wessex League rules forbid ground sharing.
The result as it stands is a merger by default, with the new club provisionally named Bashley New Milton, with New Milton resigning from the Wessex League. The trouble with this is that the Southern League have vetoed the name change so the club are awaiting a decision from the FA as to whether to overturn the Southern League’s decision.
In the meantime planning permission has been gained for a stand at Fawcett’s Field so as to fulfil Southern League ground gradings, and the move does look set to go ahead, but you wonder if the Recreation hasn’t had its last hurrah, a charity game this Thursday excepted.
And to be honest I don’t really need much of an excuse to visit the beautiful New Forest in any case. The village lies in the centre of the medieval forest, and you do have to watch your speed, in case you encounter the famous ponies, cattle, or in my case a donkey waiting for a bus, on my way out in Burley! Burley Fire Station, incidentally, is thought to be the only fire station in the country with a cattle grid at the entrance.
Another reason to be there was the opposition, I used to live in Banbury, and the Puritans are a wonderful example of a small club who season after season defy the odds to maintain their Southern League Premier status. They do the little things well too, for example their programme is always exceptional.
With all the build-up and conjecture, and the fact that I absolutely HAD to be back in Oxford at 6.30pm without fail, perhaps it was inevitable that the game wouldn’t be a classic. Banbury claimed to have 7 out for various reasons, and although they named two substitutes there seemed scant evidence of them being present, let along actually used. If the team was lacking, then the support certainly wasn’t. They made up over half the crowd, and many wore flat caps in honour of manager Edwin Stein.
Stein is the former manager and player at Barnet, and on the day when they agonisingly lost their Football League status, his current charges ran out of steam in the second half to lose 2-0. The difference ultimately, was forward Mark Gamble. His drag back and shot followed Rob Gradwell’s through ball to open the scoring just after half time.
Bashley lost midfielder Matt Finlay to a red card to two poor challenges, but try as they might, Banbury couldn’t find the energy from tired legs to a find an equaliser. Deep into injury time, a tired challenge brought down Gradwell and Gamble stepped up to score from the penalty spot. It was a fitting final word on Bashley’s tenure on the ground…..probably!