City say goodbye to Greenleys

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MILTON Keynes RUFC president John Silk say he wants the club to become the biggest in the city, as they prepare to leave their home of 37 years.

City will leave Greenleys for a new purpose-build rugby venue at Emerson Valley early next month, in a move that Mr Silk described as “imperative” if the club is going to fulfil its potential.

After being approached by Milton Keynes Council about the prospect of moving six miles down the road back in 2004, the club had to raise in excess of £100,000 in order to pay legal fees and pay for the inside of their new facility to be built. And things have not gone exactly to plan – the new site should have been finished and ready to be occupied over a year ago.

But after all that hard work and a fair bit of frustration along the way, Mr Silk - who has spent more than 30 years as player, chairman and president of the club - said it will have been worth the wait when they play their first game at their new home.

He said: “It will be a big relief to finally move after all the hard work that’s seen us get to this stage. We’ve had to find a lot of money to finance it, but I have no doubt that this will help our club grow, and we’d certainly like to become the city’s biggest club.

“We have a good relationship with all of our neighbours – Olney, Bletchley and Buckingham – but we carry the name of the city and I think we can move on to a lot bigger things in the future.”

City will collect the keys to their new home at Emerson Valley later this week, and the first team will play their opening match there against Beaconsfield on April 9. And Sunday saw City play their last ever game at Greenleys when they hosted Buckingham in a Lewis Shield quarter final tie.

“Typically we went and lost it,” joked Mr Silk. “But it’s just one of those things - we’re all just preoccupied with moving. It was certainly a day for nostalgia and a time for thinking about old friends who are no longer with us.

“Greenleys is a big part of our history and has been a good home to us over the years, but it’s time to move on.

“It will be a bit strange not being in the north of the city, but we’re going to stick to our roots and make sure that we keep our squad of local players and hopefully progress up the system.

“With the facilities we have there is no reason why we can’t one day play in a national league. But for the time being we’ll just be happy to go up a level and take on our local rivals.”

City went down 27-12 to Buckingham, losing the chance to play in the final at Franklin’s Gardens. Two penalties from Mike Dean were all City had to show for their first half efforts as the visitors had a 15-6 lead. Two further Dean penalties reduced the deficit to just three points early in the second period, but from there on Buckingham took control and ran out comfortable winners.

But their defeat took nothing away from the occasion for City, who will look forward to even bigger days at their new home in the future, at the start of a new era in Milton Keynes Rugby Club’s long and proud 140-year history.