‘We’re really excited about the future of Virginia Water’ – Ceri Jones

Ceri Jones. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com
Ceri Jones. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

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Football in Virginia Water is on the up with club – currently groundsharing with Windsor & Eton – seeking planning permission for a new ground in Surrey.

During a chat with Football in Berkshire, Ceri Jones the club Treasurer and Director of Football, he was previously the first team manager called the new venue a ‘promising location’.

The Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League North side have been looking for a suitable place to play football in their home area for a long time and have settled on site called Bridge Lane, which is about half a miles walk from Virginia Water station.

Speaking about the location, Jones said: “It’s not a long way from their current ground – The Timbers – that houses the reserve team plus AFC Winkfield and Shire United Sunday sides.”

“We’re really excited about the future and what it holds for this football club and the area”

Going further on the project, Jones said: “We’ve got plans going in for planning permission, they’ve got some dwellings alongside it and it is on a bit of green belt land, but we’ve ticked all the boxes for getting this done.

“We are hoping to be in by summer 2025 – that is certainly an aim.”

Jones was keen to point out that: “The club is under no illusions that these things take time, all of our guys would love us to be in their for the start of next season but we have have to realistic and also importantly we have to be conscious of our neighbours.

“All of this going on in a short period of time creates a lot more mess.”

Action from Virginia Water vs Balham in a pre-season friendly. Photo: Andrew Batt.
Action from Virginia Water vs Balham in a pre-season friendly at The Timbers. Photo: Andrew Batt.

At the time of this interview, the 2023/24 season was going through one of the wettest February’s on record. Looking at a map of the area there was one obvious question to ask around flood risk. Jones revealed though it wasn’t a worry saying: “We are next to a river – The Bourne, but there’s no evidence of the area being a flood plain, we’ve had all the requisite tests and opinions completed.

He added: “It will be a 3G pitch, I’d love to have a grass pitch but for a club like ours it has to be 3G. It’ll be open to the community and it’ll mean we can have a wider variety of teams. The ground would be of a level that we could go up to Step 3 Isthmian or Southern Premier were we to progress on the field.”

While sounding ambitious, the former First Team manager was quick to point out it was ‘sensible’ rather than anyone getting ahead of themselves: “You’ve got to build a ground with room to manoeuvre but not forgetting this is a club currently run by ⁠run by a formal committee of four people, which is shortly to be increased in number to 6/7 – we’re not getting ahead of ourselves.

“We’re not selling off the old ground. That will still be football for us and other teams.”

What of the Windsor & Eton groundshare?

While any ground move at the earliest would be the summer of 2025, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Waters will be staying at Stag Meadow one more year. Jones revealed the club were in negotiations with Windsor for 24/25 but there were options on the table: “Sometimes I feel like we’re a bit in the way there, they are trying to build out their new club – they’ve got a new women’s team next season – but because we’re higher up the pyramid we have more games at home. So it’s a balance for them and we understand that.

“Talks are ongoing and we’re also talking with other clubs about possibilities. Being realistic, Windsor are going up and will have more games themselves next season.

“We’re really excited about the future and what it holds for this football club and the area.”

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Upcoming fixtures

Saturday 20th April 2024

Virginia Water15:00Chalfont St Peter
Westside15:00Woodley United
Wokingham & Emmbrook15:00Bedfont Sports
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