Football in Bracknell
Club News In Depth

Can Finchampstead emulate the boys of 02?

Finchampstead and manager Jon Laugharne have been quietly going about their pre season business in Uhlsport Hellenic League Division 1 East looking to build on a healthy eighth place last season.

Finch have retained 15 goal top scorer Greg Alexander (pictured) as well as the long serving captain Adam Barnard and Luke Axton-Hall in their tight knit squad while experienced former Binfield captain and centre-back Gary Callaway is also on board again.

Binfield captain Gary Callaway. Photo: Colin Byers.

Former Binfield captain Gary Callaway is at Finch. Photo: Colin Byers.

Pre season fixtures have been a mixed bag but the red and blacks beat a Highmoor-IBIS XI 2-1 at the weekend and have also faced challenging fixtures against higher opposition in Badshot Lea and Premier Divison new boys Burnham.

Related: Why are Finchampstead players being photographed with an emoji?

History

The club have been members of the Hellenic Football League since the turn of the century when the Chiltonian League merged with the Hellenic at the end of the 1999/00 and finished 7th in their first Division 1 East season.

That same season now Southern League Division 1 sides Swindon Supermarine and Bishop’s Cleeve won the Premier and Division 1 West.

The following season – 2001/02 – was arguably the best in the clubs history as Finch won Division 1 East by two points from Aston Clinton (who are returning to the Hellenic League this season) and lost just six games of a 32 match season.

By rights Finch should have taken their place in the Hellenic Premier Division but..

Former Finchampstead and Bracknell Town manager Steve McClurg. Photo: getreading.co.uk

Former Finchampstead and Bracknell Town manager Steve McClurg. Photo: getreading.co.uk

..The ground

The football club share what is quite a terrific facility in the Berkshire countryside. The Memorial Ground isn’t exactly modern but it has plenty of parking, numerous changing rooms, a bar area on site and several terrific footballing surfaces.

We spoke to Steve McClurg, Finch manager during the victorious 01/02 campaign about the team and what stopped the club going on to bigger and better things.

“It was all down to not having floodlights at the Memorial Ground. From memory the club applied, or went to the efforts of investigating their installation but we couldn’t get permission like a lot of clubs have found.” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to single any players out, but we had a great team that year full of good players. It’s a shame we weren’t able to progress.”

Related: A look in depth at Finch’s Division 1 East rivals Woodley United and their new manager Michael Herbert

The lack of lights is something that has afflicted clubs across the county regardless of whether they are located in rural or built up areas.

Finchampstead Football Club manager Jon Laugharne. Photo: getreading.co.uk

Finchampstead Football Club manager Jon Laugharne. Photo: getreading.co.uk

Wokingham & Emmbrook are the latest example of a club who have finally won the fight for floodlights at their Lowther Road ground but Binfield were also granted permission for lights in time for the 2008/09 season after a long drawn out planning process.

Progression?

Currently, the club play their opening league games away from the Memorial Ground every season as the pitch is used by Finchampstead Cricket Club in August.

There was some talk about the side sharing with Eversley & California (Source: Wokingham Times – external link) to give the club the opportunity to enter the FA Vase, as well as avoid demotion from the division due to ground grading regulations.

If the 2016 side can emulate McClurg’s boys of 02 then there is every chance the club might be in a position to take the next step. We’ll be watching closely!

See the full table and Division 1 East fixtures and results on our dedicated page here.

Main image: Greg Alexander pictured by getreading.co.uk

League information courtesy of fchd.info

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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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Comments

  1. […] at his disposal that could break into the top half of the table this time out and the Finch boss lauded his committed squad of players that includes long-serving captain Adam Barnard, top scorer Greg Alexander and the experienced […]

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  2. […] busy putting together a strong experienced looking squad with ex-Binfield captain and centre-back Gary Callaway remaining at the Memorial Ground while Woodley United have a new manager in Michael Herbert and Clive McNelly’s bid to restore […]

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  3. […] Wokingham & Emmbrook had a confident end to their pre season campaign with a win in the annual Martin Joyce Memorial Trophy against Premier Division Binfield while Finch and Woodley have all had encouraging summers with the former keeping hold of many of their experienced players. […]

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