Binfield Football Clubs’ brilliant 2021 run in the FA Vase was our thirteenth Buildbase FA Vase season (and last, for now at least) since first entering the competition in 2008/09, and it ended in a historic Wembley final with Binfield only the second side from Berkshire ever to get this far.
Having first played football during the reign of Queen Victoria in 1892, Binfield spent their early years in the Ascot & District League, with their highest early years honours winning the Fielden Cup, first in 1924, followed by another thirteen victories – most recently Binfield’s reserves won, then retained the Fielden Cup in 2015 and 2016. During 40 years from 1950 in the Reading & District league, the Moles made the big decision in 1980 to move from sharing the Binfield Cricket ground in Forest Road to their current home at Hill Farm Lane – which set the club on the path to where they stand today. Several of those members who started out at the Hill Farm Lane facility by draining and levelling the land before building the club’s first dedicated clubhouse, will be at Wembley on 21st May, enjoying the culmination of all their work.
2001 and a merger
In 2001, Binfield merged with Binfield’s junior club, Binfield Forest FC, and in doing so significantly increased the membership with 35+ teams playing every weekend these days and a thriving Soccer School. The junior part of the club is very important to Binfield with FA Charter status having been achieved in 2007 and in 2013 the Moles had a first taste of Wembley after being awarded the Berks & Bucks FA and South East Regional FA Charter Status Community Club of the Year awards, culminating in the club being invited to the FA Community Shield in August 2013.
Back to 2008 and by this time, the Moles were well established in the FTL Hellenic Division 1 East. Meanwhile, off the field, ambitions picked up pace with a 120-seater stand and floodlights added to Hill Farm Lane – providing the platform for the next step in non-league football – along with the possibility to enter the FA Cup and FA Vase. The Moles won the FTL Hellenic League Division 1 East title in 2008-09 and gained promotion to the next level of English football, where they finished runners up in 2010/11 Uhlsport Hellenic Premier Division – their highest league position at the time, before 2021s Hellenic League title and promotion to Step 4.
August 15th 2009 will long be remembered as Binfield’s first game in the legendary, famous FA Cup, although Colliers Wood United were to make that a short first run with a 5-3 win. Better runs were to follow.
A first run at Wembley in 2008
The Moles first entered The FA Vase in 2008/9 – and won through 3 rounds, beating Wantage Town 2-1, followed by a 1-1 draw away at Fareham Town in the First Round Proper, before Carl Withers hit the winner in a 3-2 replay victory. Frimley Green ended the Moles first season in the Vase, winning 1-0.
Into 2009 and the Moles first season in the Uhlsport Hellenic Premier Division and that first foray in the FA Cup. New Milton Town ensured a short Vase run, ending the Moles hopes with a 2-1 extra-time win. But better was to come…
Cardiac Risk in the Young
2010/11 saw a decent run – and a sad moment. Bethnal Green United were beaten 2-0 in the Second Qualifying Round before Hillingdon Borough came to Hill Farm Lane and were beaten 3-2. Later that day, the sad news came through that Borough player, Nelson Monhon had sadly passed away from a heart attack, aged just 20. This was to see the start of the Moles support of the “Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY)” charity – and a screening programme for all the club’s eligible players. The Moles met Wantage Town once again in the Vase – this time the Hellenic Premier rivals gained revenge for 2008, with a 3-1 defeat seeing Binfield bow out at the Second Round stage.
Hillingdon Borough were back at Binfield again in October 2011 – and a repeat 3-2 win for the Moles saw them start on their best Vase run to date. A trip to the South Coast at Ringmer saw a dramatic 2-2 draw as ten-man Moles hit back late on. The return at Binfield two days later saw the Moles win 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, with Binfield’s record appearance maker, Withers hitting one of those winning spot kicks.
A heavy FA Vase lesson
That win on penalties was followed by a Third Round 3-1 defeat of this season’s quarter-finalists, Flackwell Heath, which saw the Moles into the national draw for the first time in their history. Unfortunately, a January 2012 Fourth Round trip to Tividale in Birmingham started and ended poorly for the Moles, who were 3-0 down early on, pulled an early second-half goal back to provide some hope – but a late red card saw Tividale run away with the tie, ending in a 7-1 defeat and a long journey home.
That season would end well for the Moles though, winning both the Hellenic Floodlit Cup and the Berks & Bucks Senior Trophy (9-8 on penalties!) in six glorious April 2012 days – the latter being the club’s highest honours to date.