Opinion: Surely it is time to give Aylesbury a sporting chance

Whatever the ‘culture’ is in Aylesbury nowadays, it sure ain’t cricket

Monday, 15th March 2021, 1:54 pm
Updated Monday, 15th March 2021, 2:04 pm

In the first of what we hope is a regular opportunity to give our readers the platform to voice their views on important issues in the Aylesbury Vale community, resident Stephen Sampford despairs at the state of disused sporting facilities in close proximity to one another.

Walking home along Buckingham Road towards the town from the Watermead, I glanced through a hedge and saw what looked like an old football ground. I turned down a side road at the mini roundabout and peered over the dilapidated fencing.

Still with spectator stands, club house and changing rooms stood the remains of an entire football club . The once lovingly-cared-for pitch was now a pitiful, mole-ravaged, waste land. It was overgrown with great mounds that you’d struggle to walk across let alone play football on.

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This is where the wicket once stood on Watermead's cricket pitch. Photo: Stephen Sampford

It turns out that the ground was home to The Ducks, or Aylesbury United Football Club. Formed in 1897, they took up residence in their Buckingham Road home in the mid 1980’s. But they were suddenly evicted when the lease on the ground ran out in 2006. Since then they have been forced to travel to sites as far afield as Chesham, Leighton Buzzard and Thame; struggling for their very survival ever since.

A campaign was started in 2007 to ‘Bring The Ducks Home’. This included negotiations with London-based site owners which in the end came to nothing.

The site has been left to languish now for 16 years, presumably awaiting planning permissions so that yet another property developer can make a vast profit building homes as cheaply as possible to sell for a fortune. Of course, we need houses but equally, people enjoy living in a town that takes a pride in its history and traditions and sporting pastimes.

Next door to this football club is a cricket pitch standing idle.

Once an award winning non-league pitch. Now Aylesbury United's former Buckingham Road ground is a sorry sight after 16 years sat idle. Photo: Stephen Sampford

Similarly, its once carefully maintained grounds have decayed. The grand ornate cricket pavilion can still be seen. Forming a triangle of depressing sporting sights sit the tennis courts next to the Watermead gym which do not appear to have seen any action since the likes of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were the big names in the sport.

What joy and excitement must once have echoed on the East side of our Town. Schoolchildren might have dreamt of one day playing for the Ducks but today, every scrap of land is swallowed up for profit by the insatiable appetites of property developers. The truly valuable things for a healthy community quite simply cannot ever compete for their survival with the people for whom profit is their God.

Is it not for the council authorities to champion the best enjoyments and interests of the community that they serve? Or are they rather, complicit in the consuming of everything and anything for the cause of personal wealth making opportunities?

Yet still they will boast of a culture and of a historical Aylesbury, while they continue to destroy all traces of it. If compulsory purchase orders can be used to destroy ancient woodlands why not instead save things such as this for benefit to all, for generations to come?

Buckingham Road. Photo: Stephen Sampford

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