West Berkshire side AFC Aldermaston will groundshare with nearby Thatcham Town for the 2021/22 season it has been revealed.
The Atom Men, placed in the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League Division One for next season, will play their home games at Waterside Park after ‘it became necessary’ to leave the Rec Soc at AWE Aldermaston.
Aldermaston, a step 6 side since their elevation from the Thames Valley Premier League in 2016, are managed by former Tottenham Hotspur defender Dave Tuttle and had played within the AWE boundary since 1952.
In a press release, club chairman Martin Desay said: “AFC Aldermaston are very pleased to announce they have entered into a groundshare agreement with Thatcham Town FC, for season 2021/22.
“This groundshare will enable the club to fulfil its Step 6 fixtures for the forthcoming season.
“We would like to thank the Chairman of Thatcham Town, Dave Melin and the club committee for their work in pulling together this agreement and look forward to both clubs working closely together in the coming months.
“The groundshare became necessary as AFC Aldermaston were unable to meet the required Ground Grading criteria for Step 6 at their home ground Aldermaston Recreational Society.”
Desay said his team of volunteers had worked hard to get the Rec Soc up to standard but the clubs landlords had ‘pulled the plug’ on further improvements – the club had taken a number of seats from Bracknell Town’s Larges Lane ground prior to it’s previous refurbishment.
Desay said: “‘It is really sad to have to leave the Rec Soc, which has been our home since 1952 when the club was originally formed, by the early pioneer workers of what was then AWRE. The Club has invested significant effort, finance and resource to improve the ground, including providing floodlights, barriers, and changing facilities. When a senior club has to leave its home ground, that will naturally have an impact on the local community, its supporters, players and volunteers. We will have to work really hard to manage this transition to Thatcham Town to make it work for us.
“We are however, really excited about the prospect of sharing Thatcham Towns ground and excellent modern facilities and great staff. Dave Melin, the Thatcham Town Chairman and I have been working together for a few months now to make this happen, and we are looking forward to working ever closer across both clubs to our mutual benefit as we move forward.”
It really is all change for the club next season with the move in to a new league structure and new home ground. The Atom Men have thankfully been grouped in the Combined Counties with the rest of the Berkshire clubs – it had been believed they would move in to the Wessex League.