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The final whistle blown at Royal Wootton Bassett
Past and present players took to the pitch in Royal Wootton Bassett at the weekend as the final whistle was blown at the rugby club.
More than 80 people took part in the last rugby match at Rylands Sports Field, in Stoneover Lane, on Saturday, marking the end of an era for Wootton Bassett RFC after more than 30 years at the site.
The grounds are set to be developed for housing by Taylor Wimpey and the club is moving to Ballards Ash.
Chairman Chris Elias, who has been involved in the club since 1986, said: “It is the last ever game of rugby on this pitch because it has been sold for development.
“The builders are due to move in during the summer.
“There have been so many people that have played here over the years. A lot of people have got so many good memories of this ground and we thought it would be great to see it go out with a bang. It will be a great memory for everybody.
“I will be sad when the last people walk off.”
The rugby club, which has more than 500 members, including the junior and mini teams, negotiated a nine-month lease when the land was sold to Taylor Wimpey to remain at Stoneover Lane at a peppercorn rate.
The club has submitted plans for a clubhouse at Ballards Ash and they are waiting for planning permission. It is hoped work will start on the clubhouse in the summer.
About 300 people were enjoying the sunshine at Saturday’s celebrations, which included a barbecue.
The festivities saw players returning from as far as Singapore to take part.
They continued in the evening with a Stars In Their Eyes-style show, where Chris performed Get This Party Started by Shirley Bassey.
Mark Wightman, the club’s president, who has been involved since the early 1990s, said: “It is a massive change. We have been at this ground since 1978. Some people are thinking of this as a wake.
“It has taken a long time to get into a position where we are ready to move – to get the permission to build here but also the legal requirements to tie up the move to the ground at Ballards Ash.”
A beer festival will be held at the grounds on June 23 as a final farewell.