‘Welcome to Sandhurst’ – why Bracknell Town play at Bottom Meadow

Welcome to Sandhurst. Photo: Neil Graham.
Welcome to Sandhurst. Photo: Neil Graham.

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Anyone who’s had their interest piqued in Bracknell Town FC in recent weeks following their FA Cup First Round Proper draw with Ipswich Town might have been surprised to learn the club no longer play in the town from which they take their name.

From 1933 until 2021 Bracknell played at Larges Lane, next door to Bracknell Cricket Club and Bracknell & Wokingham College on the outskirts of the town centre. The ground was a classic ‘non-league’ style, build bit by bit, improved, repaired and eventually transformed over the years from a clay-based grass pitch prone to both heavy surface water and freezing courtesy of some enormous trees on the far side of the pitch, to a modern football facility.

Ben Edwards plays on a muddy Larges Lane surface.
Ben Edwards plays on a muddy Larges Lane surface.

By 2020 however it had become apparent that no matter the changes and upgrades to the ground that included an artificial surface following the sale of a parcel of land at the road end of the ground, Larges Lane would not be able to host Step 3 or higher football, limiting the club’s ambitions.

Having previously ground-shared with Sandhurst during the redevelopment of Larges Lane, work began to turn Bottom Meadow into a ground capable of hosting Step 3 football and the Robins moved in at the end of the 2020/21 season, winning the Isthmian League South Central Division One title in delirious scenes at the ground.

The biggest games at Larges Lane

Gavin Smith and James Glynn take on Barnet for Bracknell Town in the FA Cup 2003.
Gavin Smith and James Glynn (right) take on Barnet for Bracknell Town in the FA Cup 2003/04.

For many, Larges Lane will remain the club’s spiritual home having hosted the Robins for a shade under 90 years. The ground played host to the likes of Portsmouth, MK Dons, a pre-Football League Wimbledon in 1974 and in 2003, National League side Barnet who beat the Robins 3-0 in an FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round tie.

It was the biggest game for years at the ground, and arguably the biggest crowd since the visit of the reformed Aldershot Town.

Since then the club had hosted big crowds at the ground, not least for an FA Vase tie against Marske United while Reading FC brought a big crowd in the County Cup and then there were the Isthmian League play-off fixtures against Westfield and Cheshunt.

“It’ll be great to go back on Monday night and see the boys. I am looking forward to it.”

Bracknell Town in the FA Cup

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