I have pondered away over the years as to which local football club did I think was the best in terms of longevity and consistency in winning trophies and Premier titles.
A very tough call to be honest and some may disagree with this, but I finally went for Paulsgrove. They came from the lower echelons of the divisions up to the Senior Division in a very short space of time.
In 1981 they achieved Premier Division status and from there they began to dominate for many years and were involved in numerous Cup Finals. There task was not easy because there were clubs such as Locks Heath, Apollo Sports from Gosport and Leigh Park United who were always looking to dethrone them.
Vic Collins was the manager and also club secretary – he had been with the club since the very early days. He was a strong character who was able to weld the team into a winning outfit.
The team remained virtually unchanged season to season with the consistent Mark Cannell in goal producing good saves when required and was also a successful penalty taker.
The full-backs were Kevin Banting and John Brown. In the centre of defence were Keith Vickers and Phil Pettit both tall defenders who were very strong in the air. The midfield comprised of Terry Barton, Terry Cole and Gary Lee. While up front it was Micky Benfield, Tony Manicom and John Daniels with Kevin Cripps alternating with Manicom.
I am sure I am going to miss out players such as Colin Cole, Kevin Jupp, Mick Marsh, Tony Mount – who later became a manager with Horndean, Havant and Newport IOW – and the Bichard brothers who all featured at some time over the seasons.
It was only a matter of time before the club moved on to pastures new to the Hampshire League where they are still performing today. Whenever I visited the Grove Club there was always good support on the line and you got the impression this was a community club that took an interest in ‘their boys’.
In spite of vandalism to the pitch and clubhouse, they overcome these challenges through hard work of the committee and players.