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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Burnham FC

The Gore, Wymers Wood Road, Burnham, Buckinghamshire SL1 8AG
Telephone: 01628 602467
Nickname: The Blues
Southern League

Note The Gore Recreation Ground has been home to Burnham since about 1920 when the club moved from its original home at Baldwin Meadow, where it had played since its formation in 1878, making it the second oldest club in Buckinghamshire behind local rivals Marlow. The relocation of the cricket club in the late 1990s and building of housing in its place allowed the creation of a four sided ground at long last, albeit one that was overlooked.  In 1948 a small stand straddling the half way line on the western side of the ground was built, and provided the only shelter for spectators. With a capacity of about 250 on wooden benches this was far from satisfactory … or comfortable, with the added inconvenience of the dugouts immediately in front.

In 1993, after having planning permission for development of a fifteen acre green belt site on the other side of the village turned down, work began at The Gore by moving the pitch southwards; with the club in receipt of a Football Foundation Stadium Development grant for a new surface and drainage system. Funding was also secured for new perimeter fencing around both the pitch and ground, and hard standing; whilst additional funds were provided by the club for a new automatic irrigation system.

Funded entirely by the club with its share of proceeds from the sale of the land, the new complex that stretches for most of on the eastern touchline began in November 2004 and was sufficiently complete by the beginning of the 2005-06 season for spectator facilities to be opened. With a further 320 seats affording a good and unobstructed view of the action, the small but faithful home support is well catered for. One could be critical that the view is not particularly elevated but it is quite satisfactory and works well within the overall design. A bigger problem is the sun, which on a bright afternoon in March was shining directly into the stand. Rather than be satisfied by the club’s current position in the Pyramid however, all building work has been completed to current Conference standards, with the new 350 lux floodlights capable of handling televised matches.

Unlike so many new prefabricated buildings built on a budget, care and thought has clearly been lavished on this project, with the cover over the blue seating suspended from the white uPVC fascia of the main building, echoing the club colours.  Inside are spacious hospitality, conference, changing room and office facilities with large windows overlooking the pitch.  It was also pleasing to note that where many interiors remain unfinished with bare breezeblock walls, these have been plastered to a good standard and the interior fittings are also of a high specification. My only criticism is that refreshment facilities are at the rear of the building, increasing the chance of missing the start of the second half whilst waiting for a burger.

This wasn’t a problem with the old clubhouse, from where one could look out on to the pitch. Originally built in 1970, this offered a cosy refuge behind the near goal at the Wymers Wood Road end but was an inevitable casualty of the redevelopment, with additional car parking taking its place.

Completion of the new complex marks the end of the first phase of the project, with covered terracing planned for both ends when finances allow. The old stand, which due to the re-alignment of the pitch is now slightly off centre, will remain in the short term, although the old partially sunken dugouts have been superseded by new modern replacements. As an interim measure the structure is likely to be cut back to the line of the new perimeter fence and new terracing built underneath to replace the existing benches. For now however, it provides a stark contrast between the past and the future at The Gore as Burnham hope to move further up the Pyramid. DB