I am writing this rather misty-eyed as it will be my final sports column for The Bucks Herald after I was handed the honour of taking charge of three of our sister papers in Hemel.
After 11 years at The Herald, my local paper which I feel passionately about – and most of which have been spent doing the sport – I will be handing over the reins this week.
I have enjoyed every single minute of my time covering our district’s thriving sport.
I look at other regional papers which have big, professional sports clubs on their doorsteps and their sports pages are dominated by them.
We don’t have that and I think our sports pages are all the better for it.
Without wanting to sound too much like a League of Gentleman sketch, The Herald is a local paper for local people and I would like to think that during my time doing the sport, our pages have reflected that fact.
Whether it is the 1,500 or so players (that’s just players) involved in the Aylesbury and District League, the vast memberships at Aylesbury Rugby Club and Lynx Gym or the fortunes of the town’s football and athletics teams, it is all what I call ‘hyper local’.
It has been a pleasure covering the fortunes of not only teams, clubs and leagues in the Vale but individuals who have achieved sporting excellence as well.
From compiling an entire football squad made up of professional players born in the Vale to the athletes involved in the historic London Olympic and Paralympic Games and more recently at Sochi.
Even in lesser known sports such as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – a punishing sport which requires huge amounts of dedication to training, conditioning and diet, Aylesbury is up there at the top of the world.
Another thing I have loved about covering Aylesbury sport is just how positive people are and how keen clubs are to have their reports, scores and pictures featured in the paper.
I loved that passion of fielding a call from someone saying ‘why hasn’t my team made it in!?’
It showed people cared about being in the paper and that, in what has been a tough few years for the industry, The Bucks Herald still mattered, and just as importantly was still relevant.
But I would not have enjoyed it half as much, or been able to produce the coverage and content I have without some very special individuals at various clubs.
Too numerous to mention all by name but these are people that devote their weekends to not only following the fortunes of their team, club, son or daughter but also to compiling scores, results, tables, reports, taking pictures and even running entire websites to keep people informed.
From Marc Thoday covering the ADL and SLN results to Mark Bannister at Aylesbury Rugby Club and Luke Brown, Mike Farquharson and John Watson at Aylesbury United, Aylesbury FC and Hale Leys respectively.
There’s Ann Taylor at Vale of Aylesbury Athletics Club, Sol Khan at Aylesbury Boxing Club, Natasha James and Liz Sheppard at Aylesbury Hockey Club the list goes on and on.
These are people that should be cherished by their clubs and while people of their ilk are still around, local sport will always be thriving.
I will still take a keen interest in Aylesbury sport, though.
I hope Aylesbury Rugby Club get the promotion they deserve this season.
I dearly hope one day (and they’ll all hate me for saying this) the Ducks and FC can join forces to form one, strong team for the town that can aim for Conference football using players from AYLESBURY. They are out there, just look at Hale Leys.
While I am moving on to pastures new, it is a new beginning for someone else, namely James Heneghan, to whom I wish all the best going forward.
Thank you for the memories.
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