All is not exactly as glamorous or unusual as it first may sound though. I also coach Bure Park's under 11 girls team and club Chairman, Ben Hillier, is also a coach. In fact, the previous evening you could have found both at the same training facility working with the girls and Wildcats squads.
Still, being able to say you watched a game with the club Chairman sounds pretty swanky. In actuality we were standing in the goalmouth of the pitch that my girls team had played on that very morning. However, the less said about the morning's result, the better. Suffice to say, we came second.
Bure Park's Senior team play their games at Pingle Field which also boasts three 7*7 pitches, 2 5*5 pitches and another 11*11 pitch as well as a fairly large pavilion and a decent size car park. All in all, it's a great football facility for the club and the town. The pitches are situated just off Pingle Drive which many visitors to Bicester will know as the road that leads to Bicester Village Shopping Outlet. In fact, Pingle Field is opposite the shopping centre, so you could always pick up a Boss suit or some Jimmy Choo shoes before or after a game if you are that way inclined.
The pitch the men's team play on is adjacent to Bicester's Oxford Road stadium, just separated by some trees and the back of the main stand at Oxford Road. The stadium was, for many, many years, home to the now defunct Bicester Town. This season, however, it is home to Bicester Town Colts who also play in the Oxfordshire Senior League, in Division One. In fact, this season, the town can boats three sides in the Oxfordshire Senior League system, Bure Park in the Premier, Bicester Town Colts and Bicester Hallions in Division One. It's great to see grassroots football thriving in the town.
Bure Park FC were formed during the Summer of 2020 when Bicester United merged into the existing Bure Park Juniors structure. Bicester United were already playing in the Premier Division and Bure Park retained that position, hence this game being their first in the league, although their previous incarnation as Bicester United had gained promotion to the Premier League by winning Division One in 2018. I could probably write an entire blog just about the various names of teams in Bicester and the relationship between those teams, but that's for another time.
So, although there has not been any previous meetings between Bure Park and Saturday's opponent Yarnton, there was some historic results to go through with Bicester United. Last season the sides met twice, once in the league and once in the President's Cup, in both games United were the home side. United won the league encounter 2-0 with Yarnton taking the cup game 2-1. The previous season, United's first in the Premier, there was a 2-2 draw at Yarnton and a 2-0 victory for the away team back in Bicester.
Yarnton won promotion to the Premier League in 2016. The club also spent most of the 1990s playing at Step 6 level in the Hellenic League system.
Yarnton, in all blue, began the game kicking down the slight slope towards the Bicester Village End with Bure PArk in the change kit of red & white stripes kicking up towards the cemetery end. As stated before, the pitch is adjacent to the Oxford Road ground, so close in fact that the shouts from the Bicester Town Colts v Kidlington game could be easily heard on the Bure Park sidelines. If Colts were to gain promotion next season could see a local derby geographically closer than any other (excluding teams who play at the same stadium, such as the Milan clubs), even the Dundee teams are further apart.
The first half seemed to pass very quickly even though we did not get a goal. Play was, in the most part, fairly even although Bure Park just about edged in terms of chances created despite looking a little hesitant in the last third at times. Ryan Collins had the best opportunity for the home side but was denied by a good save from the Yarnton keeper, who looked very sharp off his line on a couple of occasions. All in all being all square at half-time was a very fair reflection of the game.
HT Bure Park 0 Yarnton 0. No goals but some good football from both sides at times and certainly not a bore draw.
Less than five minutes later the lead was doubled. Yarnton appeared to have cleared the initial danger from a Bure Park attack, so much so that I had already glanced down at my phone when the ball found its way to Tom Bosher. As I looked back up the ball was flying into the net from all of 25 yards out. 2-0 and clearly a great strike, even if I didn't see it.
The second half certainly had ore incident than the first and Yarnton almost immediately went up the other end and scored. What's the old adage about being most vulnerable straight after scoring? However, we only had to wait until just past hour mark before Yarnton did get themselves back into the game. Bure Park were caught napping at the back as a lovely cross was delivered from the right-hand side to find Joshua Redfearn pretty much unmarked inside the home penalty area. One superbly struck volley later and the ball was nestled in the back of the Bure Park net. Lovely technique for the finish. 2-1. We then had a little bit of shenanigans in the back of the net as Yarnton tried to get hold of the ball but were thwarted by the home keeper.
Yarnton had their tails up now and Bure Park needed to steady the ship but two minutes after conceding they were almost caught out again, and it was almost a carbon copy. Another cross from the right was again met by Redfearn but just when it seemed he must equalise, Bure Park keeper Rob Lacey threw himself across his line to make a superb, game changing save.
If that effort had gone in, it could well have swung the game in Yarnton's favour. Two goals in two minutes would have given them a huge surge in confidence. As it turned out, however, the scare provided the wake up call that Bure Park needed and within 4 minutes they effectively made the game safe when Jack Hornett provided a good finish to make it 3-1.
There were still 20 minutes on the clock but the home side now looked a little more comfortable despite Yarnton having a good go and creating a couple of decent chances. The only blot on the Bure Park landscape was the second yellow picked up by first goalscorer Chappell. No one on the sidelines saw what prompted the referee to make the decision but there weren't too many complaints from the player so presumably it was warranted. Still, even with 10 men, the home defence held firm and saw the game out.
FT Bure Park 3 Yarnton 1. A great start for Bure Park gaining three points in their first league game under their new guise.
Chairman Ben was a happy man. Bicester was a happy town.
All three local sides were victorious, Colts winning 5-1 and Hallions 7-1 away at Horspath. Depsite their large scoreline Hallions do not head the Division One table, that honour goes to Ashton Folly who beat Eynsham 8-1. Hallions and Folly meet next Saturday. meanwhile, Bure Park face a tough challenge at Freeland whilst Yarnton host Charlton United.
Ground Number: 240