Aylesbury Ducks complete walk from old ground to Chesham to raise money for The Ducklings Trust

The walk has so far seen £700 raised for the Duckling trust and was also done to help raise awareness to the #BringThe DucksHome campaign.

By Thomas Bamford
Tuesday, 20th October 2020, 9:40 am
Updated Sunday, 6th December 2020, 2:18 pm

Organised by the 21st Century Ducks, the Aylesbury United Supporters Trust, tired legs completed the walk in just five and a half hours.

As they arrived in Chesham, walkers were then treated to a penalty shootout win as the Ducks took on Tilbury.

This was part of the FA Trophy fixture that took place on Saturday 17 October.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The walk consisted of 14.5 miles across the countryside to raise money for Aylesbury United's charity partner, The Ducklings Trust.

The walkers set off from the derelict stadium – which hosted the England team for a training session as recently as 2002.

Andy Martin, 21st Century Ducks and Director at Aylesbury United, said: “This is brilliant way to raise awareness of the club being homeless for far longer than anyone anticipated.

"The fact the club is still going and is in fact a growing community club is remarkable, and only possible due to the fantastic support the club has received from supporters but also from many volunteers.

"The initiative will also raise funds for the club’s fantastic and local charity partner, The Ducklings Trust.”

The Ducks renewed its charity partnership with The Ducklings Trust this year after last season was abruptly curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The sponsored walk is one of a number of activities organised by the club and its fans to raise money for the cause during the season.

The club failed in its attempt to buy back the former Buckingham Road stadium in December 2019, and developers submitted a planning application on 1 October to build 42 homes on the site.

Richard Lloyd, Aylesbury's Mayor said: "Back in February 2019 Aylesbury Town Council unanimously passed a motion with cross party support to create a Stadium Working Group to lobby for securing land to build a new community sports facility that could be used to bring Aylesbury United back to Aylesbury after a long 14 years away.

"The Town Council have been working with the Earnest Cook Trust and HS2 over a parcel of land at the former Fairford Leys Golf Club and we've been trying to engage with Buckinghamshire Council about their plans for the Woodlands scheme which has an indicative allocation for sport.

"As part of highlighting that need the 3rd "Duck Walk" took place this weekend, starting at the Buckingham Road site of the former ground which in the last week has seen a 42 house planning application go in on it.

"We then walked the 14 and a half miles to where Aylesbury United currently play in Chesham.

"The Town Council's own research into facilities in Aylesbury has uncovered many organisations with needs from new/refurbished pitches to club houses to places to store equipment.

"England Netball are supporting our desire for a multi sports venue as the ambitious Aylesbury Netball Club need somewhere to play regularly having lost the usage of Bedgrove.

"We also fed into the Football Association's "Local Football Facilities Plan" and their draft plan backs our call for a new facility.

"I would stress this isn't just about bringing Aylesbury United home but about providing a new facility in Town that would support Southern League football for any team that would need it and to accommodate other sports.

"Aylesbury is in the midst of having 16,000 new houses built, it should be possible to build a new facility as part of that.

"St Neots for example saw a new ground built off the back of a 1400 home development. We would implore Buckinghamshire Council to work with us to make this happen."

One of the reasons for the walk was to raise awareness of the #BringTheDucksHome campaign and to mark over 14 years of the clubs first team playing its home games outside of Aylesbury.

All monies raised will be donated to The Ducklings Trust, a local charity who for more than 25 years has raised and collected money to purchase items to improve the surroundings and add to the care provided to users of Stoke Mandeville Maternity Unit and Wycombe Birth Centre including birth couches, armchairs, midwife study aids, resuscitation dolls and vases for flowers.

The charity is currently trying to fund a new birthing pool at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and it is hoped that this fundraising initiative will help in this quest.

Martin Deas, Chair of The Ducklings Trust also commented: “The Ducklings Trust re-started fundraising activities again in 2019 and the committee set itself the very challenging task of raising nearly £30,000 to provide the Maternity Unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital with a new birthing pool.

"This is very exciting project which will provide enhanced facilities within Stoke Mandeville for the local community.

"We are delighted that the community aspects of this project are being enhanced by the support of the Aylesbury United Football Club”.

Aylesbury United, The Ducks, last played a home game in Aylesbury in 2006. The

town’s most senior, successful, and oldest football club, formed in 1897, have been

homeless for over 14 years. Following their eviction from their former ground the first

team have been ground hopping, with two spells at Chesham United, where the club

currently plays ‘home’ games, as well as at Leighton Town and Thame United.

The Ducks had many fantastic moments at Buckingham Road including playing the

full England team (only non-league team to do so) in 1988 in front of packed crowd

of over 6,000, had many memorable FA Cup games and an FA Trophy Semi Final to

name a few. The England team, including David Beckham, and Ajax also hosted

training sessions at the ground in the early noughties.

Given the club has been homeless for so long it is understandable that home

attendances have dropped from on average around 1,000 at the turn of the

millennium to about 150 very loyal fans. The club however does still exist which is no

mean feat and down to some remarkable efforts by club officials and volunteers.

Being homeless has not stopped this club from being a focal part of the community

and has actually seen the club grow with teams of all age groups for boys and girls

from ‘Mini Ducks’, where current England star striker Ellen White started playing

football, to the first teams. The club now also has a disability section and a walking

football team.

There have been many attempts made for the club to return home to Aylesbury that

not materialised for several different reasons. However, every effort is being made to

get the club back playing in Aylesbury. The supporters are hoping that they get their

wish to #BringTheDucksHome

Aylesbury Town Council’s Leader Richard Lloyd who has been heading up the Town

Council’s search for a suitable location for a new ground said “Aylesbury, with all it’s

recent development should have first class facilities and the Town Council will keep

working towards a Community Sport Facility where Aylesbury United can play. We

believe there are currently two potential locations but it will require a lot more hard

work to get there.”

Donations

Donations to this fundraising initiative can be made using the following link:

http://platform.nationalfundingscheme.org/DUCKWALK#.X4MJMndFxyy