In all the drama we’ve had in the Surrey and Hampshire area, it can be easy to forget teams such as Basingstoke Town and others. Of course, we’re talking about our ding-dongs with Woking and Farnborough to name but two. The ‘Stoke? Oh – our time together was positively cordial in comparison; coming up against them in our Diadora League Premier Division days. Their path upwards, however, twice ended at the playoff stage in National League South in recent years. And it’ll take something special to see our paths cross any time soon.
Basingstoke Town: The Facts
Winklebury Football Complex
Winklebury Way, Basingstoke, RG23 8BF
It does often amaze us just how old some of our opposition clubs are. Maybe we’re at a disposition because the formation of Stevenage FC in 1976 makes us mere babies by comparison. But the ‘Stoke, not unlike a lot of others, trace their history back into Victorian times. Here, their year of conception was 1896; the result of a merger between Aldworth United and Basingstoke Albion. From 1901 onwards, they were members of the Hampshire League and had varying degrees of success in the different sections and divisions.
A third Hampshire League title in 1971 was the catalyst for their decision to join the Southern League. Their debut season in the competition also saw them reach FA Cup Round One for the first time. It’d take them a total of 14 seasons, however, to achieve success in the league. By claiming the 1984-5 Division One title, it took them up into the Premier Division for a two-season stay. It wouldn’t be relegation that ended their time there; instead, the club moving across to the Isthmian League Premier Division in 1987.
Why do we know the ‘Stoke?
It was a bumpy landing in the Isthmian League; the ‘Stoke immediately going down and just as immediately coming back up into the Premier Division. After that, they’d spend five years in the division until relegation again; a period that covered our brief time passing through en route to the Conference. And even after that second relegation to Division One, it was only a three-year hiatus from the Premier Division. So, by 2004, it ensured the ‘Stoke were in the right place to be drawn into the new Conference South.
More often than not, the club would struggle at this level. But there were highlights when qualifying for the playoffs on two separate occasions that put them within touching distance of the non-league elite. Sadly, it fell apart in recent years; the ‘Stoke relegated back to the Southern League in 2016. A second relegation to Division One South in 2019 dragged them further from that high point. Two seasons were then abandoned due to Covid, which marked the end of the ‘Stoke’s latest Southern League odyssey.
Their future was also in a bit of doubt when it emerged their former chairman tried to sell their old ground. For a time, it meant playing their home games down in Winchester. But they’re now back in Amazingstoke, even if it isn’t at their old Camrose venue. In 2021, they’d play in the South Central Division of the Isthmian League; winning the title at the end of the 2022-3 campaign. Their reward? Promotion. Up to the Southern League Premier South. Honestly, we don’t know how things work down there any more…
How to get to Basingstoke Town – Travel Information – Distance: 74 miles
With the club now back in Amazingstoke, the bulk of this road trip will involve the M25 and the M3. And we assume you know what’s what to manage that part of the journey. We pick it up with your need to come off the M3 motorway at Junction 6 (A339); using the second exit at the roundabout to follow a spur to another roundabout, where you’ll literally want to continue straight on.
After two miles, exit the A339 at the A340 exit for Aldermaston. Take the second exit at the roundabout for Aldermaston Road South, followed by the third exit at the next roundabout. This will take you on a relatively bendy road through a commercial zone; following the road round to the right onto Brunel Road – passing a City Plumbing outlet in doing so. Next, follow the road system around to the right in parallel to the A340.
You’ll then kick back around to the left and arrive at a roundabout. Take the first exit for Winklebury Way. In 0.3 miles, there’s a left turn that will take you into Winklebury Football Complex.
At the ground itself, parking is strictly for authorised used and disabled supporters. For all other drivers, the official advice is to head for postcode RG22 6PG. This is the area behind Loddon Vale Bowling Club, which can be found on Leisure Park Road. It’ll then be a short walk via a subway and under the railway.
Services to: LONDON WATERLOO
It’s about 30 minutes on foot from Basingstoke station to the Winklebury Football Complex, which means you might be inclined to take the official site’s advice of using local buses. If you want to walk it, however, come out of the station and aim for The Malls shopping complex. You’ll want to head away from this point along Alençon Link. As this starts to bend around to the left, you’ll want to get onto the right hand side.
At the roundabout, the direction of travel is more or less straight on along Churchill Way North. Just before the next roundabout and almost directly opposite Wickes, take a right onto Houndsmill Road. This will take you across the railway, at which point turn left and then go past Winkelbury Football Complex.
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