FEATURE: The forgotten community hub

Club chairman Tony Checkley (left) and vice president Ron Ackerman
Club chairman Tony Checkley (left) and vice president Ron Ackerman
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A forgotten community hub is fighting to get families off their sofas to meet new people at their club.

Buckingham Sports and Social Club has spent more than £300,000 on revamping the building and it now wants to show it off to the expanding population.

The facilities at Buckingham Athletic Football Club. Ron Ackerman, Vice President behind the bar. PNL-151102-123832009

The facilities at Buckingham Athletic Football Club. Ron Ackerman, Vice President behind the bar. PNL-151102-123832009

The Stratford Fields facility, home to Buckingham Athletic Football Club, has a large hall, function room and a bar which serves the ‘cheapest pint in town’.

But club chairman Tony Checkley thinks the club has been forgotten and he is keen to create a thriving hub which people can enjoy and trust.

He said: “We’ve been in the shadow for so long because we are in a place where we are out of the way.

“We have people who have lived here for 15, 20 years and they say ‘I didn’t know we could just walk into that place. We thought it was just a football club’.

The facilities at Buckingham Athletic Football Club. PNL-151102-123820009

The facilities at Buckingham Athletic Football Club. PNL-151102-123820009

“But we’ve had people come to functions - invited by someone they know - and they say ‘I’m so glad I found this place’.

“They come in here and there are people they know.

“We want people to bring their families and associate it with somewhere where they feel safe to go to.”

Mr Checkley, who also helps run feeder club Moretonville JFC, wants to bring in groups from various sports and activities to build the community spirit.

The facilities at Buckingham Athletic Football Club. PNL-151102-123722009

The facilities at Buckingham Athletic Football Club. PNL-151102-123722009

The club currently welcomes a yoga group as well as dominoes, pool and darts teams but would like to attract a golf society and another darts group for Thursday nights.

It also hosts poker nights and crowd-pleasing live music from local acts.

The next event, on February 28, features Emily Reed - who performed for 84 million viewers on Song for Europe.

But Mr Checkley thinks these acts and entertainment are slipping under the radar because families have so much technology at their fingertips.

The facilities at Buckingham Athletic Football Club. PNL-151102-123919009

The facilities at Buckingham Athletic Football Club. PNL-151102-123919009

He said: “What is that magic thing? The thing that makes people say ‘I will come down here rather than staying sat indoors’ with their wealth of entertainment.

“It’s that social thing. Get out there and meet your community, the people that live around you.

“I think people have got like that because there is nowhere to go.

“None of the pubs say ‘come and get me’ in my view so families must sit there and think, where can we go in Buckingham?”

“We want to make this the hub of all entertainment.

“I know that’s a big ask because people have so much choice but we are trying desperately hard.”

Membership at the club only costs £5 and it entitles people to discounted event tickets, reduced hall hire costs and cheaper drinks.

The club is running a competition to win four tickets to see Emily Reed belt out the hits from Kylie, Beyonce and Whitney.

Follow @BuckinghamAth and search for Buckingham Athletic FC on Facebook to find out more.