Larges Lane and Bracknell Town FC logo

Larges Lane, Bracknell

Bracknell Town FC vs. Maidenhead United FC

Two years ago I was thinking about how I could possibly cram more unnecessary trips to sporting events into my life when I suddenly had a brainwave. Why not try make use of my time (but not my money) and combine trips and take in another sport? This seemed particularly appealing given my love of ice hockey and their 6pm starts. And so the 'double header' was born.

The Larges Lane pitch
A look inside Larges Lane.

I first attempted this in January 2018, and got off to the best possible start thanks to a dire goalless draw between MK Dons v AFC Wimbledon. Undeterred by the fact I never got to use the rather comfortable looking seating at Stadium MK thanks to booking a ticket in the away end, I made the short drive to Planet Ice Milton Keynes to watch the Lightning v Dundee Stars in an Elite League ice hockey game, which thankfully contained a bit more goalmouth action.

Since then I've pulled a couple of multi-sport double headers. But it wasn't until a hastily rescheduled for TV game between Salford City and Maidenhead that I realised, why not try and do two football games in a row? With Bury kicking off at 3pm just down the road, a dominant Salford display allowed me to slink out a little bit early (I don't like leaving anything before it's finished, I don't get it at all, but needs must) to arrive just in time for the start of Bury v Colchester.

Photo of the crowd at Larges Lane
A majority of the crowd gathered as far away from me as possible.

What does any of this have to do with this game? Not a lot. But I had originally planned this game to be my first double header of the season. The circumstances were perfect, Maidenhead arranged a friendly away at Ascot for a lunchtime kick off, and then I could jump in my car and head straight down the A329 to Bracknell and take in Bracknell v Maidenhead.

Nice idea in theory, until finding out the first game would be taking place at Bisham Abbey. And just when I thought I could sneak in a cheeky new ground (it's listed on Football Ground Map so it definitely counts), Maidenhead put out a tweet the day before that this would be a behind closed door friendly only. Ah well, at least I could have a lie in.

Larges Lane is easy to reach by train. Just a few short stops from Reading, or many stops from Waterloo, you can jump out and make the walk to the ground from the station. You'll often encounter many lost and bewildered people struggling to navigate the labyrinth of underpass leading towards to the town centre in the opposite direction.

Behind the goal at Larges Lane
The intimidating Bracknell ultras conspicuous by their absence for a friendly.

A large crowd, of what could be at best described as human cattle, huddled outside a block of flats (near the probably not ironically named 'Mount Pleasant' that leads to the ground) alongside an ambulance indicated some drama had befallen somebody. Judging by the strong smell of stale cigarette smoke, one could only assume they caught on fire.But after carefully manoeuvring round them without making eye contact, we were on our way.

This was my tenth trip to the redeveloped Larges Lane, which is ten more times than I visited the old version. It's become one of my favourites due to its easy to reach location, the 3G pitch, and the fact you can drink a beer pitchside (£3 a pint).

In that time I've seen the ground be swallowed up by the housing development that make the whole place seem a little claustrophobic, and certainly too small for a club as ambitious as Bracknell Town. But they've continued to develop the ground into a nice little stadium for Step 4.

Stands at Larges Lane
Nothing says modern day non league more than a shipping container masquerading as a stand.

I chose this game as it offered a chance for Maidenhead to audition for my affections. Having been a season ticket holder at York Road for the last two seasons as I glory hunted their promotion into The National League, I'd grown concerned that maybe the club had probably gone as far as it could since large patches of last season proved to be completely rotten to watch.

This game was probably not the one to confirm any decision, as it was played with all the intensity of a preseason friendly (shocker), littered with players from the Trialist family, and contained very little action at all. But it was hot and you could enjoy a beer or two.

Useless information about Larges Lane

Address: Larges Lane, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 9AN
Capacity: 2,500
Pitch Type: Artificial
Ticket Price: £5
Programme: None (programme usually online only during season)
Cheapest Pint: £3