Tuesday, 26 June 2012

21st Century Hampshire Top Twenties: 2009/2010

Sunset over Romsey Town FC.
I'm not sure if any club has been as useless as Romsey Town were between 1997/98 and 2002/03 - bottom of whichever league they were competing in for six seasons running! Fort William in the Highland League may be their only competitors for this unwanted wooden spoon-shaped mantle. So, to finish as high as 10th in the Wessex League this season was an excellent achievement for the men from Florence Nightingale's birthplace - a true tonic for their long-suffering troupe of fans.

Meanwhile, at the top of the pyramid, Pompey reached their last cup final for what could be a very long time indeed. Bottom of the Premiership...the first club to go into administration and be docked points at that level...nobody running the club admitting they got things horrendously wrong...gah!

Happier times for North Hampshire's former financial fruitcakes, Farnborough, as they were promoted from the Southern League. Play-off defeats for AFC Totton and VT FC kept their intense rivalry alive for another year. Generally though, it was mid-table all round for most of the county's top clubs.

One last red carpet moment for Pompey at Wembley in 2010.
Here is the top twenty list for 2009/2010 (first number is level of the pyramid that the league a club competed in was at; second number is their position within that league, thus Pompey were 20th in the Premiership; Eastleigh were 11th at level 6, Conference South):

1. (1) Portsmouth 1/20
2. (2) Southampton 3/7
3. (3) Aldershot Town 4/6
4. (5) Havant & Waterlooville 6/6
5. (4) Eastleigh 6/11
6. (6) Basingstoke Town 6/15
7. (7) Farnborough 7/1
8. (8) Bashley 7/8
9. (9) AFC Totton 8/2
10. (14) VT FC 8/4
11. (9) Fleet Town 8/6
12. (11) Gosport Borough 8/8
13. (12) Andover 8/20
14. (19) Fareham Town 9/6
15. (NE) Totton & Eling 9/7
16. (NE) Blackfield & Langley 9/8
17. (20) Romsey Town 9/10
18. (13) Winchester City 9/11
19=. (15) Moneyfields 9/12
19=. (17) Cove 9/12

Brockenhurst and New Milton Town drop out this time, replaced by the ampersanded duo of Totton & Eling and Blackfield & Langley. Portsmouth's Moneyfields and Farnborough's Cove finished 12th in their equally-ranked leagues - the former are the most surprising ever-presents in the top twenty since 2000.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

21st Century Hampshire Top Twenties: 2008/2009

Excuse me, are we in the right place for Fleet Town FC?
Ah, the return of the Hampshire Top Twenty lists! The previous nine can be found by following the Top Twenty Tables link on the right-hand side...

What's this all about then? Well, in the following table, Hampshire's best twenty clubs for 2008/2009 have been ordered according to their position in the national pyramid. The first number after the club's name refers to the position that their league occupied in the overall structure at the time (the Premiership being at overall level 1; Wessex League Premier being at level 9); the second number refers to their position within their league that season.

We won't mention what happened to Saints this season, suffice to say it would be their final nightmare season for the foreseeable future - Pompey's were just beginning. Aldershot settled down into mid-table in their first league season. Eastleigh, Farnborough and AFC Totton all reached play-offs, although all were beaten (Eastleigh in the semis by Hayes & Yeading; Farnborough in their final against Gloucester City; AFC Totton also in their final at home to Didcot Town). Havant & Waterlooville reached the first round proper of the FA Cup for the fifth time, losing at home to Brentford. Promoted from the Wessex League as runners-up were VT FC (soon to be renamed Sholing).

Several satisfying performances then, but the featured club this time is Fleet Town. They had one of their best-ever seasons, finishing third in the Isthmian League Division One South, losing in the promotion play-offs to Metropolitan Police. But their trophy cabinet was added to as winners of the Hampshire Senior Cup, Russell Cotes Cup, the North Hants FA Cup and the Aldershot Senior Cup. Not only that, but they equalled their best-ever FA Cup run, going out in the 3rd qualifying round to AFC Totton.

Here is the table for 2008/2009:

1. (1) Portsmouth 1/14
2. (2) Southampton 2/23
3. (3) Aldershot Town 4/15
4. (4) Eastleigh 6/3
5. (5) Havant & Waterlooville 6/15
6. (6) Basingstoke Town 6/18
7. (8) Farnborough 7/2
8. (7) Bashley 7/14
9=. (9) Fleet Town 8/3
9=. (13) AFC Totton 8/3
11. (10) Gosport Borough 8/12
12. (12) Andover 8/19
13. (11) Winchester City 8/22
14. (14) VT FC 9/2
15. (17) Moneyfields 9/3
16. (16) Brockenhurst 9/5
17. (15) Cove 9/6
18. (NE) New Milton Town 9/9
19. (18) Fareham Town 9/10
20. (NE) Romsey Town 9/11

First time entries for the renamed New Milton Town and Romsey Town, who only recently had finished bottom of the Hampshire League's third tier. Following them now makes me feel like a Johnny-come-lately glory-hunter. These two replaced Horndean and Hayling United.