THE Camrose is very dear to my heart as like many people in this town it was the first place I ever watched a live football game, writes the Gazette's Sports Editor Graham Merry.

That was when I was aged seven and went along with my father Bernie and brother Nigel and now 49 years on it is heartbreaking to see what is happening to somewhere which has so many fond memories for town’s folk young and old.

Even before I took over reporting on the team for the Gazette some 22 years ago I watched countless games there.

I feel really lucky to have reported on some of the biggest nights in the club’s history if not the town’s.

Who will forget back in 1997, the FA Cup first round replay victory on penalties over Wycombe Wanderers saw over 5,000 packed into the ground and will live in the memories of everyone there.

Then a few weeks later on a freezing night with frost forming on the pitch, Town took on Northampton and lost on penalties, with the game being shown live on SKY.

I could carry on with countless other memorable moments at the ground which has made itself very much part of the history of this town since the club moved there in 1945.

It is the home of football in the town and where it should be played, but thanks to a need for profit from the town’s football club from its former owner multi-millionaire businessman Rafi Razzak, the final whistle on the stadium looks to have been blown.

Time and time again we hear Winklebury is the place Town need to move to and that Mr Razzak will pay to bring the ground up to the same standard as the Camrose.

Well he will once he gets planning permission, using the club he evicted at the end of last season, thinking it would help his cause as a bargaining chip with the local council.

However, with only four months left of this campaign he is no nearer which is a great travesty and means the club really should have stayed there.

Instead they are in exile at Winchester City and give the supporters their due they still have some of the best attendances in their league.

It seems that planning permission seems as far away as ever with more objections than teams in the football league.

So hence to make sure the club does not return - dig up the pitch! Mr Razzak will tell you this is to reseed it and done every year, but in May or June - not in January!

Now don’t get me wrong the Hampshire FA’s Winklebury ground is a lovely little set-up and will serve them well, but it is not a football stadium for a club to grow and move up the football pyramid, as nearby Eastleigh have proved in recent years.

By losing the Camrose the town will only have one football facility, where up until this time last year it had two.

This is where the local council need to step in and make sure the Camrose or a new stadium is built on the same site. They are downgrading the sporting facilities in this town, but then having lived in this town all my life, sport does seem to be at the bottom of their agenda.

Sport brings so much to a community and in Basingstoke’s case it is a town which is growing all the time.

Just to dismiss it is the biggest own goal you are ever likely to make.

The goal posts have been moved so many times already in this debate, it is now time to put them back where they belong which is at the Camrose.

Graham Merry