Football in Bracknell
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Charlie Austin, Ralf Little and other famous faces who’ve crossed paths with Bracknell Town FC

Burnley’s Ashley Barnes scored the equaliser for Clarets against Manchester City during Sunday’s 2-2 Barclay’s Premier League draw, but did you know he started his career at Paulton Rovers in Somerset and once lined up alongside Bracknell’s finest?

Here are ten other famous faces who crossed paths with Robins over the years. And here are a bunch more famous faces to have crossed our paths.

Charlie Austin

We delve into the Allied Counties League for this one, but Queen’s Park Rangers current top-scorer once put two past a young Robins side for Hungerford Town during season 2006/07.

Ralf Little

I will need some absolute clarification on this one. The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps star was defintiely signed for Staines Town when they regularly faced Bracknell in the Ryman League between 2002 and 2003, but I don’t remember him being on the pitch during any of the games.

Junior Harvey

Also known as ‘MC Harvey’. Once a bit a-list, he was married to Alesha Dixon and turned out for Lewes against Bracknell on several occassions, one of these appearances at least was at Larges Lane. Imagine the crowd we’d have had, had social media been around at the time.

Neil Webb

The former Manchester United midfielder was born in Reading, and had a short spell as boss of Reading Town when they were drawn to face Bracknell at Larges Lane in the 2001/02 FA Cup. Bracknell utterly outclassed their opponents in a 5-0 victory and Webb left not long after.

It is worth noting the former United and Nottingham Forest midfielder’s stature in the game playing 75 games for Red Devils as well as 186 for Forest under Brian Clough, as well as going to the 1990 World Cup as part of Bobby Robson’s England squad – he won 26 England caps.

Roberto Di Matteo

I tell this story a lot, but Bracknell Town were drawn against Milton Keynes Dons in the 2008/09 Berks & Bucks County Cup and Michael Buck scored the only goal of the game.

Buck said: “MK Dons have come here and we had a point to prove to show them that non-league football can produce another upset.

“It’s always hard for teams to come to the Lane, we got in their faces, they didn’t like it, we battled through and got the win.”

It was essentially a reserve team with a few first teamers needing a game – don’t get me wrong, this was still a big and unexpected victory, but Di Matteo was there. He didn’t have to be, but he was. He also banged his head on the dugout.

He later won the Champions League as you might be aware, but he earned our respect then.

Former England, Watford and AC Milan striker Luther Blissett. Photo: getreading.co.uk

Former England, Watford and AC Milan striker Luther Blissett. Photo: getreading.co.uk

Luther Blissett

Capped 14 times by England, a goal-to-game ratio of one every other, and a £1million pound transfer fee from Watford to AC Milan was the kind of reputation Luther Blissett had under his belt when he visited Larges Lane as the boss of Chesham United.

That didn’t appear to make much difference however with Robins running out 3-0 winners – their first win in seven games at the time.

Related: Luther Blissett tweets ‘best wishes’ to injured Binfield youngster

And a few that wore the red of Bracknell..

Michael Hector

Hector made his debut for Reading FC in the Championship last season after several impressive loan spells – not least at Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League.

The defender had a brief three game loan spell at Larges Lane during an otherwise forgettable season for the club that culminated in relegation. He was a central-midfielder at the time but played at centre-back for us and looks set to go on to bigger and better things in that position for Royals – being partnered regularly with Republic of Ireland international Alex Pearce.

Reading and Chelsea defender Michael Hector. Photo: Get Reading.

Reading and Chelsea defender Michael Hector. Photo: Get Reading.

Jermaine McGlashan

The left-winger clearly has talent, but we only saw glimpses at Larges Lane during a seven game loan spell from Staines Town when Jon Underwood was manager.

One game stands out, away to Bridgwater Town. Robins without a win all season at high-flying Bridgy didn’t stand a chance, but McGlashan on his own tore the Southern League side to pieces.

Unplayable on his day, McGlashan successfully secured a contract at Aldershot Town in League 2 where he faced Manchester United in the 2011/12 League Cup and now plays for Gillingham after moving from Cheltenham Town.

Leon Solomon

‘Solly’ is not a house hold name by any stretch, but is included here because of his commitment to the club at the time and the small matter of an England ‘C’ cap.

Solomon played for Bracknell during the reign of Byron Walton, and arguably played through to pain barrier to try and secure Robins Southern League status for another season. He won his England cap in 2007 against Finland, and is currently a regular for Maidenhead United alongside a certain Sam Barratt, who we hope will one day grace these pages.

Stuart Hammonds

We can’t finish this list without the most famous – in Non-League circles anyway – ‘Hammo’. The no-nonesense centre-back who once scored a superb solo goal against Ash United in a pre season friendly (really) was a columnist for the discerning football fans newspaper, The Non-League Paper, where he is now editor.

Here’s the latest on Hammo!

Have we missed anyone out? Let us know in the comments below.

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Tom Canning

Tom is the co-editor of FootballinBracknell. He has played at the lowest possible level of football. In real life Tom works for Trinity Mirror.

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  2. […] running this local football news ‘blog’ I’m not quite sure we ever expected to cross paths with any ex-pros, but that’s what going to happen thanks to the Bracknell Football […]

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  3. […] Related: The famous face who’ve crossed paths with Bracknell Town […]

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