DUCK AND COVER
Printed in the Southern League Midlands Division game v Bury Town Saturday 5th December 2009. We were top of the league beforehand, but lost 1-0 in front of 276.
Visiting Leighton Buzzard last Saturday to watch us put Aylesbury to the sword, bought back not so very distant memories of just how Slough supporters have been put through the mill during the past decade. Here we were facing another club that seriously gallen from grace; homeless, bottom of the league with just 3 points and shipping goals for fun. The last time I saw Slough play Aylesbury they thumped us 4-0 in front of over seven hundred people in March 2002. It was the season they were promoted back to the Ryman Premier, managed by the legendary Cliff Hercules.
Aylesbury, nicknamed 'The Ducks' due to the famous Aylesbury breed, have experienced some incredible highs over their long 112-year history but now are battling out a nomadic existence. In the summer of 2006 their former Chairman failed in his plans to covert their Buckingham Road grounds playing surface into a 3rd generation artificial surface, what he described as his 'last ditch' idea for creating a viable football club. He cut his ties, and when the ground lease expired Aylesbury United were made homeless. They now play 'home' matches some 20 miles away while their old ground sits idle.
Just as when Slough were at our lowest ebb and some suggested that we should cut our losses and merge, there is another club in Aylesbury playing in the town that would love to become the towns top dog. Last season Aylesbury FC were Aylesbury Vale. 3 years before that they were known as Haywood United, who themselves only came about in 2001 after a merger between Stocklake and Belgrave FC. The ambitious new Aylesbury approached the United chairman to offer to buy the club - so they could close them down! They contacted the Southern League to check the Ducks had a 'bond' in place; they rang Leighton Town Football Club to see if a 'ground share agreement' was in place, and tapped up members of the clubs committee for confidential information. At the beginning of this season, United's manager, their clubs main sponsor and most of the players then left for Aylesbury FC. As United's chairman Graham Read put it "The 'scheming and plotting' that's been going on by certain individuals has been totally underhand and delivered with sheer arrogance and total disrespect to the supporters, committee and the history of Aylesbury United Football Club."
As for Aylesbury FC, they are currently top of the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division and reached the 4th Qualifying round of the FA Cup. While they are clearly ambitious, their morals could do with an MOT.
Slough supporters know from bitter experience, as you turn up each week to watch your team get thumped, as you reel from one crisis to another, that it's sometimes hard to see any future. But it will be the supporters that get Aylesbury United out of this mess, and after the game with Slough there was a well attended meeting with the manager, chairman and supporters who now run the club through 21st Century Ducks Supporters Trust. There was talk of plants to devlop a sports stadium at Aylesbury College, but also discussion about a groundshare with Aylesbury FC.
With a population of 70,000 is there room for two Aylesbury clubs? Only time will tell, but as the United chairman put it " The season ahead will be one of the most challenging in the history of Aylesbury United Football Club. But we will fight on, battle each battle with your support, will achieve and maintain our status as Aylesbury's senior respected football club." As Slough Town has shown, if everyone pulls together for the future of their club, then there is a future for the Ducks.