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Hunter’s Attention On Cup - 4 August

Royal Wootton Bassett Town boss Rich Hunter was pleased to get a difficult game out of the way early as he turns his attentions to the Emirates FA Cup.

Bassett were slow coming out of the blocks in their opening game of their Hellenic League Premier campaign on Wednesday night as Josh Bowden and Josh Murphy gave hosts Brackley Town Saints a two-goal cushion after just half an hour, before levelling the game for a 2-2 finish.

Now Hunter’s side play host to Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division side Crawley Green in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup and, with both sides finishing 11th in their respective leagues last season, the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground chief is eyeing a win at home.

“The FA Cup is massive. It’s the one you look forward to in the summer,” he said to Matthew Davies of The Swindon Advertiser. “It’s exciting to be part of the FA Cup, it’s always fantastic to be part of, even in these early stages. We want to win it and go out there and put on a good display. I don’t know too much about them (Green) but it’s going to be a tough game, as all the FA Cup games are. I’m confident, we’ve had a decent pre-season and a good game on Wednesday. We’re going into it with high spirits and it’s always great to play at home.”

 

Bassett Hoping Competition Key To Success? - 1 August

rich hunter manager royal wootton bassett townFor Royal Wootton Bassett Town manager Rich Hunter it's been perhaps a busier summer than originally anticipated.

Having taken over shortly after the start of the 2016-17 campaign in difficult circumstances, the Bassett boss performed admirably as he helped steady the ship, leading to an eventual mid-table finish in the Hellenic League Premier Division.

Come the end of the year, he had a settled squad, with the priority for the summer set to be fine-tuning the cadre of players at his disposal ahead of his first full season in the hot seat. Yet the departure of last season's Manager's Player of the Year, Players' Player of the Year and top scorer presented Hunter with what many would have considered an unenviable challenge.

However, while 'keeper Curtis Meare, defender Dan Comer and forward Steve Robertson have all moved on to league rivals Wantage Town, Hunter has astutely filled the gaps created by their departures. On top of that he has recruited strongly, bolstering the squad's strength in depth.

Meare was superb between the sticks for Bassett over the past two years. But his place will be taken by Ant Brown, who joins from Malmesbury Victoria. And, on the basis of his pre-season performances, he possesses shot-stopping and kicking abilities that rival those of his predecessor.

Defensively, Jonny Aitkenhead and Chris Jackson have been snatched away from Division One West champions Fairford Town, while Aaron Stevens – Player of the Year last year at Purton, former Wantage full back Sam Brown and ex-Malmesbury right back Josh Hughes have also put pen to paper.

Both Aitkenhead and Stevens – Bassett players in their youth football days – are versatile enough to fit in anywhere along the backline, while Jackson is an imposing centre half.

It's in the midfield that Bassett have reinforced most. Classy holding player Callum Wright, returning to the game after a lengthy layoff thanks to a knee injury picked up while at university in the United States, is as good as a new signing. Alongside him, Gio Wrona brings both youth and Southern League experience, Nathan Blackford – another capture from Fairford – will provide energy and goals, Aaron Maximen offers a physical presence alongside a great touch, and Joe Herbert brings goal-scoring ability from the middle of the pitch.

Up front, Nathan Gambling returns for a second spell from Highworth Town, and is a proven goalscorer at this level. His hold-up ability will also serve to support the skilful, pacey Mason Thompson - signed from Wantage - and tricky Bradley Clark.

They'll all be vying for places alongside the vast majority of last season's side, who – except for the aforementioned Wantage-bound trio and Liam Edmondson – have all committed themselves to Bassett again.

Unsurprisingly, competition for places has been fierce in a pre-season that has yielded three wins and four defeats, with performances that have, admittedly, been varying in quality.

Bassett's series of friendlies started with a 2-0 victory away against Western League Premier Division Chipping Sodbury Town thanks to goals from Dan Bailey and Callum Wright. They then defeated REME MOD Lyneham 4-2, with Mason Thompson registering his first goal for the club. He was on target again in a 2-1 triumph away at Corsham Town. A home fixture against Swindon Supermarine saw Bassett face their first test against higher level opposition. Hunter used the game to experiment with formations, and his team ended up losing 5-0.

Their final week of tune-ups began with a seven-goal thriller away at Malmesbury Victoria. Although Thompson bagged a brace and Nathan Gambling also struck, Bassett were on the wrong end of the scoreline.

The team's penultimate warm-up was a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Devizes Town on a trying evening at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground. But Bassett redeemed themselves in their final friendly against Southern League Shortwood United. Josh Hughes put the hosts ahead in a first half during which Bassett were unfortunate not to have extended their advantage. Their performance level was high throughout, but Shortwood were able to come from behind and prevail 2-1.

Despite the result, it was a positive way to complete preparations for the campaign ahead of the serious business getting underway on Wednesday at Brackley Town Saints.

 

Bassett Programme Third Best In Non League - 10 July

While unable to retain top spot, Royal Wootton Bassett Town’s first team programme has again been rated as one of the best in English non league football, achieving a third-place finish in the 2016-17 Soccer Club Swap Shop Programme Awards.

It marks the fifth year in a row that the programme, edited by club President Mark Smedley and printed by long-time club sponsor Cats Solutions, has achieved a top twenty finish in the annual awards. Bassett’s programme achieved a joint 50th place finish in 2011-12 before rising thirty spots a season later. In 2013-14, it was ranked as 19th best, before jumping to 12th in 2013-14. Then in 2015-16 the programme was voted as the best in non league.

However, this year it was bested by the efforts of National League North (step two) outfit Stockport County and North West Counties League Division One (step six) side St. Helens Town. Congratulations go to both of those clubs for their sterling efforts!

Fellow Wiltshire club Chippenham Town also made the top twenty for the second year in a row, finishing joint 15th place.

Previous results:
2011-12 - Joint 50th in non league, Best Programme in Hellenic League Division One West
2012-13 - 20th in non league, Best Programme in Hellenic League Division One West
2013-14 - 19th in non league, third best in Hellenic League Premier Division
2014-15 - 12th in non league, Best Programme in Hellenic League Premier Division
2015-16 – 1st in non league, Best Programme in Hellenic League Premier Division

 

Bassett Development Appointments - 18 June

Royal Wootton Bassett Town are pleased to announce the appointment of Paul Gerrish and Rab MacLeod as the new management team for its Development side.

The pair, who have overseen Bassett's Wiltshire Under 18 Floodlit League team for the past two seasons, have been appointed after a lengthy interview process for the position, which attracted a number of strong internal and external applicants.

Commenting on the appointment, Chairman Andy Walduck said: "After restructuring our senior section, making the decision to move from the traditional Reserve side to a Development setup, we're delighted to have Paul and Rab agree to take on the management of the team. They have great knowledge of young talent in the local area and are committed to giving them experience in senior football, which is what the side is all about. On top of that, they have close ties to the club. Paul is a former player of ours, while he and Rab have been part of management teams within our youth section for a number of years before taking on the Floodlit League side. Both Paul and Rab buy into the club's ethos too, and are committed to playing an expansive style of football which we want throughout our senior section."

After receiving news of the decision, Paul Gerrish commented: "Rab and I are really looking forward to the challenge ahead. We're excited to again be working with young players, as well as Rich Hunter and his team."

The Development team will play in the Wiltshire County League Premier Division and will place a greater focus on player progression. It is envisioned that the team will be comprised primarily of players aged under 23, offering them meaningful exposure to senior football with the ultimate aim of seeing as many as possible to progress to the first team.

With that in mind, the duo will work in close cooperation with first team manager Rich Hunter and his assistants Chris Green and Mike Brewer. They will take the reins from Dave Terry, Danny Groom and Ray Ellis, who have been in charge of the Reserves for the past three seasons. Prior to that they had overseen the Development team for two years.

The club would like to place on record its sincere thanks for the hard work they have put in over the past five years. They have brought through a number of players who have gone on to become fixtures in the first and reserve sides. In addition, they enjoyed fantastic success on the pitch. They took the Development team – with a side made up largely of players aged under 21 - to the final of the Fountains Trophies Junior Cup in the 2012-13 season, before gaining promotion to the Wilts League Premier Division and consolidating the Reserves' position in that division after its switch from the Hellenic League. They have been – and are – great servants of the club, and it is hoped that they will remain involved.

Pre-season training for the senior section, including the Development team, starts on Monday evening at 7.30pm at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground.

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