Saturday 29th September 2018
Buckingham United v Stony Stratford Town
North Bucks League Intermediate Division
Lace Hill Sports Centre
Buckingham United have had some publicity this week following stories of some old kit finally reaching its destination sixteen months late, where it found its way to another club named Buckingham United, this one being in Gambia! Still a relatively fledgling club, the Buckinghamshire version are growing rapidly, and progressing through the North Bucks League nicely, with a full five teams now playing each week-end for the club.
As one club rises, this week they host a former step 6 club in Stony Stratford who only a handful of years ago were competing in the Spartan South Midlands First Division, but after stony L times fell upon the club they now face each other for the second time in a week, after United visited Ostlers Lane last week and came away with all three points.
This week Sports Shots caught up with vice chairman Adam Bray to catch up on all things around the club, and first we asked how he feels the club is progressing seven years after forming:
Looking back on where & how we started, to what the club has become now proves the appetite for amateur football within the town. Personally I couldn’t be happier with how the club has progressed which has certainly exceeded my own expectations. Most importantly though are the people we are so fortunate to have involved across our club who all truly love their football! Without them we wouldn’t be where we are today although looking back I have no idea where the last seven and a half years have gone. The club itself was created as a single Sunday League team back in 2011 as a small group of friends simply just wanting to play football, soon after this more and more players were coming to us wanting to join and has been the case since. We played the clubs ‘home’ games at what was then Kingsbrook School in Deanshanger. Everyone has dreams but our only real aim at the time was to play in Buckingham and the following season we moved to Tingewick where we played for four years until May 2016 which was certainly close enough. The summer of 2016 we moved in to Lace Hill signing a long term agreement to secure our future while doubling the club size from two Sunday Teams to four by joining the North Bucks and District League. We had many doubters that thought it was ridiculous to double in size with a lot thinking we would struggle with player recruitment, however we proved all the doubters wrong, without trying to sound arrogant, I was not surprised because it proved the appetite for football in the town. The following season we were fortunate enough to join up with Moretonville JFC with our first under 18’s team, a link which I hope will be beneficial for many young players in the town for years to come. Regarding a schedule of growth there has never really been one in the past which may seem strange to some reading this, each time we have grown it has always been natural growth with a demand shown we have then put plans in place and then gone out and done it. However going forward with more and more people involved a 5 year plan is certainly something we will be putting in place soon
And looking ahead, what plans do the committee have in place?
The growth of the club over the last 7 years has been incredible but of course with that everything off the pitch needs to grow and keep up. Over the summer we made a number of changes off the pitch with how we do things to ensure the club runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible for all our members. Which so far has gone really well based on the positive comments we have received. Moving forward we will require the committee to grow and I have had a number of really positive conversations over the last couple of weeks with people who are keen to get involved for all the right reasons. Our committee has an average age of 27 but I expect this to increase in the next few of months! There are a few ideas and plans on the table currently regarding long term plans which are very early days but I will hopefully have some good news on these in the next few months
So who are the Buckingham United sides?
First Team – Manager Dean O’Connor suits our club perfectly and he deserves the upmost credit for putting together the squad and management team he has over the last two seasons. The overwhelming success of the First Team has certainly made a lot of people interested in to who we are and what we are all about. The first team are a real pleasure to watch with attendances towards the end of last season pushing the 50 mark, for a club with no clubhouse bar at this level I think that is pretty good! Over the last two seasons they have usually always treated spectators to goals which we hope will continue! Last season we secured promotion and the Division One shield scoring over 100 goals along the way, at the time of writing we currently sit top of the North Bucks Intermediate having scored 37 goals in 7 games including the Buckingham Junior Charity Cup First Round.
1st team success last season
Reserves – Matt Marsden took over the reserves in the summer and quickly put together a management team with a great squad full of good players and characters with everyone really enjoying their football. The squad itself is mixed with some well-known more ‘senior’ players who should probably be playing vets along with younger players coming through into men’s football. Matt and First Team Manager Dean also have a great relationship which is incredibly important at any level. The team started off with a flying start in the league but after a couple of defeats sit in a very tight ‘top 4’ in the North Bucks and District League Division 2.
Under 18’s – Our under 18’s are in their second season and managed by Michael Turner who just like Dean and Matt is a real pleasure to work with. Michael has put together a talented squad of local players with a majority coming through from Moretonville JFC. The team is a real pleasure to watch and play some great attacking football which last season finalised with a league cup final at Stadium MK, finishing runners up to an extremely good Newport Pagnell Town Under 18’s which is nothing to be ashamed of! Just like the First Team and Reserves the under 18’s have had a great start to the season and are currently unbeaten. Without speaking to soon or tempting fate it certainly looks to be an entertaining season ahead.
Sunday A Team – The Sunday A Team is one of two Sunday sides which is run by John Westcott. John took over the side in a difficult spell last season following promotion to the Premier Division of the Milton Keynes Sunday League. His passion and commitment matches the other managers across the club and been relentless in building up a good and improved squad with a number of players coming from the University of Buckingham. The two Sunday sides are there for enjoyment of the game but John and his players want to compete and do well which they can do. After getting their first win of the season on Sunday they should now push on for the rest of the season.
Sunday B Team – The Sunday B Team is the second Sunday team in the club and plays in Division One of the Milton Keynes Sunday League. This team is entirely for fun and when they win a game the players usually do not know how to react. The team is managed by Matt Hawes and is full of characters and personalities which Sunday League football should be all about! Most of the players have come to us wanting to simply play for the enjoyment of the game, which again is what football should be all about!
We asked Adam how strange it feels to be playing Stony Stratford Town at this level:
I was looking through their history only last week and they were in the South Midlands League Division 1 as recently as the 2014/15 season and runners up in the league cup two seasons before. They are a club who have a tremendous amount of history dating back to the late 1800’s. It does feel strange and it was certainly the club I have been looking forward to us facing the most this season purely because of their history. While I have talked above about our growth and how quickly it has happened, playing Stony Stratford Town in the North Bucks Intermediate does spring as a reminder just how quickly things can also turn around. We played Stony Stratford last weekend winning 5-0 but the infamous wind of Lace Hill could very much make the return visit a very different game
Buckingham United (Gambia) finally got their kit
The story that emerged on social media this week of the kit going to Africa, how did this all begin?
The first contact we had was when a gentleman called Muhammed B Sarr from Gambia who was liking and commenting on our Facebook posts back in 2015, after a couple of weeks Jack Stuchbury opened up communication and Muhammed explained he had found us on Facebook while searching for his own club… Also called Buckingham United! The Gambian Buckingham United is named after a street called Buckingham in the town of Gunjar and is a good size with multiple teams. It’s fair to say they love their football!
Muhammed and also Famara Badjie who is part of the management there have kept in regular contact with us ever since and created a brilliant and unique relationship keeping each other up to date with fixtures and results. In May 2017 my partner Becci Pegg packed up and sent out one of our older kits allowing them to wear the club badge which we all thought had never arrived… It turned out the package had been lost in the lost baggage area of the airport and Famara finally received the shirts on Saturday (22/09)… 16 months after they were sent! As you can see from the pictures on our Facebook page the players over there are so happy with them and it is great to see our old kits go to good use! Hopefully the kit will bring them good luck on the pitch too and the relationship between the two clubs can develop further
With regards to the first team, what would the club perceive to be a successful season?
Dean has very much set his own target of winning the League and Divisional Cup but that is Dean, he wants to win everything and puts that into his players! As a club we would love to do well in the Buckingham Charity Cup, it’s a great competition raising money for good causes but a successful season for the club would certainly be promotion again
How difficult is it to get good players in at this level and keep hold of them?
We have attracted good players in for the last couple of seasons now which I think in part has come from the success of the First Team and the under 18’s who both had great 2017/18 seasons along with the great coverage from Sports Shots! While the club does some advertising for the managers the credit for the recruitment has to lie with all our team managers who have gone out there and worked tirelessly to put together good teams. Attracting good players is one thing but keeping them is another, enjoyment at this level is key which all of our manager try to implement into the players. Another aspect that the players love is the post-match food put on by Pete Edwards at The Mitre! It’s amazing how happy a good hotdog can make a player, Pete always puts on good quality food for our teams which is highly appreciated by all
And finally, we asked Adam to look into the future; it is August 2025 and the new football season is just days away, what is Buckingham United’s first league fixture and where?
Good Question! – Just for fun I’ll say…
Spartan South Midlands Division One
v Aylesbury United
Sports Shots would like to thank Adam for his time this week