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Bassett To Host RAF FA Veterans In Charity Match - 22 April

raf footballRoyal Wootton Bassett Town Veterans welcome their RAF FA equivalents to the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground on Sunday 29 April in a charity match raising funds for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

Kick off for the game, the second of three matches on what is being billed as the "Veterans' "Super Sunday", is 12.30pm and entry is free, though any charitable donations will be gratefully accepted. Prior to that match, Bassett's Friday Night Vets Football team will face Bays Vets FC (10.30am kick off), while the Over 50s side take on Chippenham Yard Dogs afterwards (2.30pm kick off).

The charity contest is the latest in a programme of fundraising fixtures the RAF FA Veterans have been playing in celebration of the Royal Air Force's centenary year. This began in Scotland last August, with a match against a Highland League Veterans Select XI, and has since seen them play eleven other fixtures prior to the game against Bassett. Included in their schedule have been contests against the England Veterans FA at the Football Association's St George's Park base, their Army and Navy equivalents as well as a tournament at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus.

So far, their efforts have brought in close to £6,000, with an overall target of £10,000. As well as being accepted on the day, donations can be made on the JustGiving page that the RAF FA have set up: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/raffa-veterans.

This will not be the first time the teams have met as Bassett played the RAF FA in a friendly last April, losing 3-0. And while the result this time around will be secondary to the aim of raising money for an outstanding cause, they will be hoping to improve on that outcome.

Bassett will be confident of doing so too, having recently finished as runners-up in the Wiltshire FA Veterans Flexi League. As a club, Bassett are always proud to help build on the close ties between Royal Wootton Bassett and the armed forces, in particular the Royal Air Force.

Given the proximity to Lyneham, numerous individuals linked with the RAF – be they serving in the air force or their family members – have played, coached or volunteered for Bassett over the years. And, in keeping with the town's motto – "We honour those who serve" - it is hoped that hosting the charity match will be a fitting way of showing appreciation for everything the RAF have done for Royal Wootton Bassett and the country as a whole. It would therefore be great to see a large crowd for what should be an entertaining day, with three games played in a fantastic spirit for an outstanding cause. A barbecue and bouncy castle are also being planned.


Victory Spurs Bassett On - 30 March

Sam Collier says Royal Wootton Bassett Town will travel to Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division high-flyers Bracknell Town on Saturday with the weight of the world lifted off their shoulders.

The Swindon Advertiser reports Bassett ended a four-month wait for a league win last weekend when Collier got the only goal of the game in a 1-0 success at home to Ascot United. Rich Hunter stood down in the midst of that tough run, with Collier stepping up in his place, making the goal and victory extra sweet.

Bassett will be hard pressed to follow that up with another victory at fourth-in-the-table Bracknell, but Collier says his troops will make the trip with the pressure off. “Last Saturday was very pleasing. It was a massive improvement on the way things have been going,” said Collier. “If we never won another game this season we knew it would really affect us in terms of relegation but it is nice to get the monkey off our backs and get that first win since I have been charge. It is also good to give something to cheer for everyone involved at the club and all the loyal people behind us. We know we are massive underdogs this weekend but we have got three games left this season and there is no pressure on us. Bracknell are right up there at the top and they scored 10 goals last weekend, so it just show how good they are. We just need to stick in there, try to keep them quiet and see what we can do.”


Bassett In Unique Position - 9 March

sam collier manager royal wootton bassett townRoyal Wootton Bassett Town interim boss Sam Collier says the club are in a unique position as the Uhlsport Hellenic League season starts to draw to a close.

With the club comfortably in the middle of the Premier Division table, Collier, who took over from Rich Hunter, believes there is plenty to be doing as the club have one eye on next season, writes Matt Davies in the Swindon Advertiser.

Collier (pictured) admits the results have been poor since the turn of the year as they look to break an 11-game losing streak with a victory at home to Abingdon United on Saturday. The temporary manager also believes several changes in playing staff have seen the club struggle with inconsistency.

“Results have been poor since the turn of the New Year which has been very frustrating however we have had lots of changes player wise and having lost key players in vital positions, it has affected us,’’ he said. “We haven’t been able to pick the same XI for months and I feel that is a huge concern and plays a factor in not being able to get a run of form. Just when we would get a settled side where I feel we can compete in every game. Then a seven-day (approach) would come in for a player and be offered something they couldn’t turn down. We have lacked a scoring touch since losing three key players Rory Sproule and Lewis Walden (both to Highworth) and star striker Sam Packer to a broken ankle in October.“It was no surprise that when the side had nine straight wins, Sam Packer was in the side and already matched his goal tally from last season with only two months in. He offers the side so much and has been a massive loss.

“With the club safe from relegation and not chasing promotion it gives the club a chance to plan for the future and have a look at the youngsters within the excellent development programme. Since I have taken over the reins we have already given senior games to George Lance (18), Harrison Gough (17) George Staten (17) and will continue to look at others. If we can bed them in with a mix of the senior players such as Steven Yeardley, Chris Jackson and Callum Wright, we can rebuild and hopefully finish the season in the correct way.”


Bassett Make Management Change - 21 January

Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division Royal Wootton Bassett Town have this week parted company with first team manager Rich Hunter.

The decision was made to ask Hunter to stand down following the 5-1 Bluefin Sport Challenge Cup defeat against Wantage Town on Wednesday night. The result meant Bassett had lost eight of their previous eleven games, a run in which they had conceded 37 goals.

Having been a member of the first team's coaching staff for two seasons, Hunter took over the reigns as manager in difficult circumstances in August 2016 after the resignation of Paul Braithwaite. Alongside coach Derek Hamilton, he helped steady the ship, guiding Bassett to a respectable eleventh place finish in the Hellenic League Premier Division while also helping to establish a playing ethos within the club's senior section as a whole.

This season the first team made a difficult start to their campaign before embarking on a nine-game winning streak and matching the club's best ever run in the FA Vase by reaching the second round. However recent results and performances have not met expectations, with the view taken that a change was necessary.

Commenting on the move, Chairman Andy Walduck said: "Making this type of decision is very hard with Rich being such a nice guy. He's a gentleman and as a club we owe him a lot for his efforts over the past three and a half seasons, especially the way in which he stepped up to the position of manager last year. He has added a lot to the club. He always went about things the right way, helping contribute towards the ethos and playing style we want to encourage and building links between our youth and senior sections. We wish him nothing but the best for the future."

The club has asked Sam Collier to take over as interim manager until the end of the season. He has worked alongside Hunter since re-joining as a player-coach in August and it is hoped this will help provide some consistency for the players. Collier will be supported by Rob Hopkins, who is no stranger to Bassett, having previously served as a player and coach before moving onto coaching stints with New College and Wantage Town more recently.

The club will then review its options at the end of the season before making a permanent appointment.


rich hunter manager royal wootton bassett town hellenic leagueBassett Boss Buzzing - 12 January

Royal Wootton Bassett Town manager Rich Hunter is relishing the chance to go head-to-head with the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division’s form team tomorrow.

Bassett’s hosts are a Thatcham Town side who have won their last nine league matches as well as reaching the fifth round of the FA Vase – and who will be looking for another victory to close the gap on inactive pace-setters Highworth at the summit to six points.

Despite defeat for his side in their last three fixtures and the exits of striker Rory Sproule and midfielder Matt Cheetham for Highworth and Wantage respectively in recent weeks, manager Hunter sounded an upbeat note ahead of Bassett’s tough test in Berkshire.“We always like the challenge of playing the top teams and will prepare properly,” said Hunter in the Swindon Advertiser. “Although we have lost a couple of players recently we still have plenty of strength in depth in the squad and will go to Thatcham with a team capable of producing the goods.”

Bassett took to the field for the first time in 2018 on Wednesday night but their return to action was short lived. Their Perpetua Press Floodlit Cup tie with rivals Highworth was all-square at 1-1 early in the second half when it was abandoned due to heavy fog.

Hunter added: “It was the right decision to call it off but we played some good stuff for 55 minutes. I felt we were the better side on the night and we’ll be looking to take that into Saturday’s game.”


buildbase fa vase logoExpecting Professional Performance - 10 November

Royal Wootton Bassett Town manager Rich Hunter is expecting a professional performance when his side tackle Horndean in the Buildbase FA Vase.

In league action, Horndean are having an encouraging campaign in the Sydenhams Football League Premier Division, where they sit fourth in the table with 11 wins out of 15 games.

However, Bassett are also enjoying a recent resurgence as their extra-time win over Fairford Town in the Hellenic League Challenge Cup stretched their unbeaten run to four games.“We know a reasonable bit about them. We have done our research and I’ve spoken to a few managers in their league,” Hunter said in the Swindon Advertiser. “We have some good information about them and they’ll be a tough team, but any cup game is decided by whoever is better on the day. I need a professional performance. We said at the start of the season we wanted to do as well as we could in the Vase. Our minds have been set on it for a good few weeks now, once we knew our opponents. We have had a good couple of training sessions in preparation.”

Even though his players were forced into an extra 30 minutes in their narrow win on Wednesday night, Hunter says that may prove to be valuable game time for some of the fringe players. “The game in the week was good for us, we had the chance to put a few things into practice and we are ready to go,” he added. “Confidence is good and we will go there and have a right go. We could have done without the extra 30 minutes but the lads are fit. I was able to rotate the squad a bit for the game and rest a few so the squad is fresh and I have a full selection for Saturday.”


buildbase fa vase logoBassett Brimming With Confidence - 20 October

Royal Wootton Bassett Town manager Rich Hunter believes that his side can go into tomorrow’s Buildbase FA Vase clash with Ampthill Town brimming with confidence.

The Gerard Buxton Sports Ground outfit saw their bid to make it 10 wins in row ended at Brimscombe & Thrupp last Saturday. However, the Bassett chief used Wednesday night’s Wiltshire Senior Cup first round clash with Wiltshire League side Cricklade Town to banish the memories of that 3-0 loss in Gloucestershire. Fielding a strong team, the Hellenic League Premier Division side ran out 4-1 winners thanks to goals from Sam Collier, Adam Corcoran, Gio Wrona and Aaron Maximen.

“Wednesday was key to bounce back and get a win under our belts,” Hunter said in the Swindon Advertiser. “I put a strong side out and they got the job done. It was about getting confidence back in the dressing room and it has set us up nicely for Saturday.”

Ampthill, who ply their trade in the Spartans South Midlands League Division One, have beaten Hellenic Division One West sides Clanfield 85 and New College en route to the first round proper and Hunter says that he has done his homework on the Bedfordshire side. “I have spoken to both the managers of Clanfield and New College, so we know a little bit about them,” the Bassett boss said. “This is a competition that we highlighted at the start of the season that we wanted to do well in.”


Bassett Host Ampthill - 26 September

Royal Wootton Bassett Town have been handed a home tie against Ampthill Town in the Buildbase FA Vase first round. The tie will take place on Saturday 21st October at the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground.

Bassett's place in the opening round of the Vase was sealed on Saturday with an emphatic 5-0 victory against Codicote, Ampthill's rivals in the Spartan South Midlands League Division One.

Not since 2010-11 have Bassett appeared in the first round proper of the competition. And they will be looking to go one better than in that season, when they suffered a 2-1 away defeat against Cadbury Heath. Victory would ensure Bassett match their best ever run nine years ago, which ended in the second round.

Ampthill, despite playing a level below their hosts at step six, will be difficult opponents. They have a great Vase pedigree. The Bedforshire outfit have made it to the third round or beyond on seven different occasions. That includes a three year stretch of reaching at least the last 32. In 2011-12 Ampthill made it to the fourth round before they went a stage further a season later. Their best performance came in 2013-14 when they made it through to the quarter finals, being eliminated 2-1 after defeat to Eastbourne United Association.

That run to the last eight coincided with a runners-up finish in the South Midlands League Premier Division. However, they were relegated in 2014-15, following that up with consecutive 14th place finishes at step six. So far this season the Amps have been in outstanding form.

In the Vase they have comfortably seen off two Hellenic League sides already, thrashing New College 10-0 away before triumphing 4-0 against Clanfield. In the league, Ampthill currently sit second with six wins from their opening seven fixtures.


buildbase fa vase logoFriday Night FA Vase At Bassett - 6 September

Royal Wootton Bassett Town take on Fairford Town on Friday night in what should be a fascinating Buildbase FA Vase first qualifying round tie.

A bumper crowd is expected as the local rivals battle it out under the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground floodlights (7.45pm kick off). It will be the first time the teams have faced each other since a 2015-16 Hellenic League Floodlit Cup tie, which Bassett won 3-1 courtesy of a Steve Robertson hat-trick. In fact, Bassett have won each of the last four occasions they have met, with Fairford's most recent triumph coming in a Hellenic League Premier Division clash back in March 2005.

Both sides have had difficult starts in the league this season and will be hoping that a Vase victory can kick-start their campaigns. Fairford, reigning Division One West champions, are aiming to make it through the qualifying rounds of the Vase for the third consecutive season, a stage their hosts haven't reached since 2010-11.

Friday nights have a special place in Bassett's recent history playing in national cup competitions though. All three home ties of their 2012-13 run to the FA Cup second qualifying round were played on Friday nights at Rylands Way, yielding victories against Calne Town (4-2), Hamworthy United (1-0) and Highworth Town (3-1). And it is that magic which they'll seek to recreate.

The winners will be rewarded with a home tie in the second qualifying round against Spartans South Midlands League Division One side Codicote.


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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