They are feeling buoyant at Bracknell Town – both on and off the field – as the Robins face their biggest test in years on Saturday.
By Ken Gaunt
Northern League high-fliers Marske United are making the 560-mile round trip to Larges Lane in the FA Vase with a semi-final spot up for grabs. Bracknell are one of three Hellenic League sides – Thatcham Town (at
Melksham) and Windsor (at Stockton) are the others – looking to clinch a place in the last four.
With home advantage and the fact they are unbeaten on their own patch in the league, there is growing excitement in Bracknell.
“We want promotion of course but the thought of Wembley has captured the imagination of our young players,” says chairman Kayne Steinborn-Busse.
When Steinborn-Busse arrived two years ago, the club was being run by a small group of volunteers and the team were playing in front of two-figure crowds. The ground was badly in need of upgrading and the atmosphere was non-existent.
“It was poor,“ he says, “It was not inspirational.”
So the founder and chairman of land development company, the SB Group, set to work. Visiting supporters will see a state-of-the-art 3G pitch that is used not only by the club but schools and community projects.
The facilities, he believes, would grace a club higher up the non-league pyramid rather than one at Step 5. And he feels it is no coincidence that the smart surroundings combined with good football are attracting more local support with crowds of 200-plus now the norm.
That figure is expected to treble when Marske from the Cleveland coast come to town. Bracknell’s joint-managers Paul McGrotty and Jeff Lamb are not afraid to give rookies their head either – the club run 31 teams. In a recent match they fielded eight players, whose average age was 21.
And they will no doubt take confidence from the thrilling extra time victory at highly-fancied Midland League side Coleshill Town in the last round of the Vase. Steinborn-Busse, who is now planning to set up a sport and education complex with the neighbouring Ranelagh School, has a good memory of that day.
“One of the young lads managed to persuade his nan to go along and she loved it,” he says, “We are getting them to drag their mums and dads and grandparents to games.”
“Our 3G pitch is busy every day of the week and has galvanised the community.”