Saturday, 7 May 2011

Leamington FC with Paul Edwards

Please read below for my interview with Leamington FC press officer Paul Edwards. It was published in the latest Football Focus magazine which can be viewed here for absolutely free! Included in the current issue are Leyton Orient, Dunfermline Athletic, Crawley Town and many more football clubs.

Leamington FC
New Windmill Ground - the home of Leamington FC
In April twenty-three years ago, the game looked to be up for Leamington. After a long and successful history, the club were evicted from their home, Windmill Ground, and as press officer Paul Edwards explains, it was only the dedication of a few fans that kept Leamington going. “The club was kept alive by a small group of determined supporters, who continued to pay the registration fee to the FA each year. In 1990 a field was purchased from a local farm and a rudimentary ground created. Re-launched in 2000, and now playing at the New Windmill Ground, Leamington FC have not looked back.

Leamington – otherwise known as The Brakes – have experienced unprecedented levels of success in recent years and Paul believes this is due to the feel good factor produced by the re-emergence of the club eleven years ago. “Brakes never enjoyed the sort of gates we get now and I don’t think anybody was expecting the kind of response to the clubs’ resurrection that took place, so that immediately gave a massive boost. The initial success of the Midland Combination Division Two title success was the beginning of the snowball if you like, as we have improved our position each season, which is no mean feat.”

Paul also feels credit is due to the back room staff at Leamington who have successfully moulded team spirit with talent, but Paul is also keen to stress that none of it would have been possible without the volunteers who work behind the scenes at the club. “Jason Cadden and Dave Draper put together a blend of local youth and experienced players to breed a winning mentality, and the success and attraction of playing in front of more than the proverbial one man and his dog attracted the better players in the area to the club. Another factor in the ongoing success has been the strength of the team behind the scenes. Leamington have been fortunate to have so many committed people that have given up their time to keep things running, and they have done it for the love of the club.”

Indeed, it is volunteers who have helped rebuilt the club from top-to-bottom at their new home, New Windmill Park, although as Paul explains, not everyone likes the new ground! “The ground has come a long way from its previous life as a farmers field. We now have two covered seating areas and both ends are terraced, one covered. The clubhouse was a welcome addition, and the supporters can be proud that they have contributed to the development of their ground. The groundsmen, Idris Elms and Nigel Hodgkins, have won numerous awards for the quality of the pitch, which is tremendous given the work that has gone into improving it over the years. The only negative feedback we seem to get is about the rather unpleasant smell drifting across from the nearby chicken farm, but only if the wind is blowing in a certain direction!”

Despite the distraction of unsavoury smells at New Windmill Park, the first team are currently occupying a lofty position in the Southern Football League Premier Division and Paul is quietly optimistic for the future. “I hope we can amass enough points from our remaining fixtures to make the playoffs. After that, it is a lottery! If we fall short, then we have made great strides from last season and improved our league position and playing squad, so I will certainly look forward with hope, whatever happens. The club drew up a plan a couple of years back to map out how they would like to progress over the next ten years and the main aim is to bring the team under the Conference umbrella, which certainly looks to be achievable, if not this season then in the near future.”

Clearly, Leamington have a lot to look forward to on the pitch, but Paul is just as proud of the increasing youth development at the club which is very beneficial for the local community. “In the last few years the club has placed a lot of emphasis on nurturing youngsters into potential Brakes players of the future, with the introduction of Leamington Brakes FC, which since 2006 has evolved to become one of the largest junior set ups in the Birmingham County area. Another affiliation, with the Leamington Lions Girls and Ladies teams led to the club being awarded Charter Standard Community Club status in 2008, and it continues to provide plenty of opportunities for young people in and around Leamington to play football.”

In other news, Leamington fan Bob Smith-Ward has been cycling 255 miles to attend a Brakes match, just to raise money for the club. You can check out how he managed at

written by Will Lyon

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