Tag Archives: Sholing

Sholing v Team Solent. Southampton Senior Cup Final: St Mary’s Stadium Wednesday 3rd May 2017

4 May


It’s long been my view that every cup has a unique history worth cherishing. The Southampton Senior Cup is no different and in fact can boast more history than most. The final between Sholing and Team Solent was the 99th in the tournaments history and the programme included a list of previous winners which included a litany of illustrious sides from the cities footballing past such as Bitterne Nomads, Harland and Wolff, Sholing Sports and Bitterne Guild.

Although the Southampton Senior cup attracts entrants from further afield appropriately the final pitted against each other the two best non-league sides from the city itself. Sholing had already had a taste of cup glory, just a few days before, having claimed the Wessex League Cup with a 2-1 win over Baffins Milton Rovers on Monday – a final they reached by knocking Solent out in the semi’s. As well as revenge for this Solent were also looking to defend the trophy they won in 2015 and 2016.

Solent are a side who are capable of playing some extremely good football and they provided a clear demonstration of this in the opening period of the game as they seized the initiative. Their pressure created several chances with Tyrell Mitford putting the ball agonisingly wide of the post, Jesse Waller-Lassen testing the Sholing ‘keeper with a fierce shot from range and Tobi Adekunle hitting the crossbar with another effort from distance.

Sholing were little more than spectators for much of the first twenty minutes, however as with the last time I saw these sides meet they remind me a little of Muhammad Ali against George Foreman. Sholing simply absorbed the Solent pressure and kept calmly working away confident that when the time came it would be they who would land the deciding blow.

Perhaps this sense of assurance stems from having Dan Mason up front. The powerful centre-forward, who plays well with his back to goal and ball to his feet, has scored 30 League goals this season – giving him the Wessex League Premier golden boot. As that tally would suggest Mason needs only the faintest glimmer of opportunity to find the back of the net and when he turns his marker to find a little space inside the box he duly finds the net for a goal which is very much against the run of play. Equilibrium was though restored soon after when Waller-Lassen powered through the Sholing defence and one-on-one with the Sholing ‘keeper unselfishly slid the ball across for Tyrell Mitford to slot into an empty net on 29 minutes.

The balance though was to last only a few minutes into the second half: Attempting to claim a floated-in corner Solent ‘keeper Bradley Banda dropped the ball. It was hooked away, but the referee spotted an infringement – a handball by Solent’s Jemal Wiseman, and pointed to the spot. Lee Wort stepped up for Sholing and though the eager-to-make-amends Banda got an elbow, or some body part, on it the power of Wort’s strike saw the ball deflect into the net for Sholing’s second.

A second equaliser did not appear to be beyond Solent, but the chances of one were dramatically cut when Solent’s Wiseman, picked up a second yellow for what appeared to be dissent. I got another sense of déjà vu, recalling the recent Solent v Moneyfields game in which a silly second yellow effectively cost Solent 3 points by allowing the title-chasing Money’s back into the game. Interestingly Solent’s manager James Taylor was not at the game as he was himself serving a suspension.

Waller-Lassen ensured Solent still had some attacking edge. The game was the Solent captain’s swansong, having signed for Salisbury, and he seemed determined to go down fighting, wriggling into the box and forcing a save from the Sholing ‘keeper at the near post. On the two occasions I’ve seen him Waller-Lassen’s quality has stood out. His vision is superb and he has a knack of playing oblique balls which no one else would think of as well as having an ability to put all sorts of curve and spin on the ball.

Whatever quality Waler-Lassen possessed it was however, not enough to save 10-man Solent. Sholing were comfortably dictating the pace and scored a third when Micky Hubbard’s long range effort found the back of the net. It had looked innocuous enough, but Banda – who was not having a good evening – somehow managed to let it through.

The goal finally destroyed what remained of Solent’s resolve. Struggling to get out of their half they increasingly resorted to playing balls back to their ‘keeper and became involved in a few niggly tussles.

The final whistle then was a relief all round. Though a few made speedily for the exit most of the 748 strong crowd stuck around for the presentations. Assisting was none other than ‘Roly Poly Goalie’ Wayne Shaw. Shaw has long been a well known figure on the football scene locally, but this season became something of a national celebrity thanks to his position on the bench during Sutton United’s FA Cup run. This undoubtedly says something about cup football in its own right, but whether it’s good, or bad is quite another matter.

The night though belonged to Sholing. Shaw shook hands and warmly embraced each Sholing player as they collected their medals before the trophy was lifted for the 99th time.


Hampshire Senior Cup Final: Gosport Borough v Sholing – Fratton Park 5th May 2015

6 May

Hampshire Cup presentation

Substituted with just over 10 minutes to go Sholing player Kevin Brewster was bestowed with the biggest cheer received by any Sholing player on the night, issued by the row of girls sat behind me who it seems had taken the trip along the Solent at the defenders behest. The girls weren’t that impressed by the experience though; “He made us come here” complained one.

Aside from this selfie-stick wilding bunch  (who I gathered probably wouldn’t label themselves fans) there were few Sholing supporters of any kind in evidence. This fact was remarked on by a Gosport fan just before kick off. I gave him several reasons for this the two most compelling being that Sholing weren’t a well supported club, a legacy of being an ex works side “hmmm, they only took 7,000 to Wembley” he mused in concurrence, referring to last years FA Vase final. They other equally compelling reason is that who’d want to parade their red and white striped scarf through Fratton? Other unmentioned reasons were that it was a Monday night, it was cold and the M27 becomes a car park at this time of evening.

Of course there were a few Sholing fans there. These however, only made themselves apparent a few minutes before the end of the game as they scrambled out to make the 21.42 south West Trains service from Fratton station to Sholing.That was my train too, but witnessing the heckling this group endured and the furtive glances of at least one of their number I decided to stay incognito and to remain in my seat for the final whistle and the trophy presentation. Besides I have an aversion to even missing one second of football that I’ve paid to enjoy. If it meant sitting on a cold platform for the best part of an hour then so be it.

There was little real point to this stubbornness, by this point the game had long since been up for plucky Sholing. Despite their being two divisions below Gosport the first half had been remarkably evenly matched, the sides only separated by a rather generous penalty converted by Borough legend Justin ‘Benno’ Bennett and and kept separate through the fingertips of Nathan Ashmore – a goalkeeper dubbed ‘England’s number one’ by the Gosport fans –  who stayed alert to divert a stinging drive from the unmarked Alex Sawyer over the bar.

The second half had seen Gosport establish a controlling position when Alex Wilde’s free-kick found the net on 59 minutes. Although there were a few signs of resistance as Sholing’s fighting spirit saw, among other things, a chance at one end as substitute Tobi Adekunle clipped the Gosport post and at the other end a spectacular goal-line clearance the game appeared to be moving to a foregone conclusion. And so it was. Moments after the Sholing fans made their exit Matt Patterson made it 3-0 in injury time, deservedly getting on the score-sheet after an evening tirelessly harrying the Sholing defence. Ironically at this moment I’d looked away to jot down a note about something of no real consequence. As I looked up again I saw the ball trickle into the net.

3-0 to Gosport Borough

The Wessex League Twitter League

30 Apr

Call me boring, but I had so much fun with the Football League Twitter Rankings that I’ve decided to follow it up with a Wessex League version. Last night I trawled through Twitter and managed to  find the feed for every club apart from Lymington Town (if they do have a Twitter feed, do let me know and I’ll add it in).

Anyway here is the top three:

3.) Team Solent – 853 Followers

Despite being in the second tier of the Wessex League Team Solent, where they finished in 6th place, and not being known for attracting the biggest crowds to their Test Park Ground Team Solent have nonetheless managed to take third place in the twitter rankings. Not much of a surprise though as Team Solent are the Men’s side of Southampton Solent University which boasts plenty of media related courses alongside it’s football studies programme, including sports journalism.

2.) Sholing – 1388 Followers

I’m really starting to  warm to Sholing, and so it seems are a lot of other people. Reaching the FA Vase Final has undoubtedly been a welcome boost to the profile of the club, but you only need to look at the struggles of Totton and Eling, (formerly B.A.T) to see how well Sholing have done moving out of the shadow of their Vosper Thornycroft works team past and are engaging with the community. Hopefully their success will  continue into the Southern League.

1.) Brockenhurst 1624 Followers

To be honest as I was compiling this I was fully expecting the Sholing juggernaut to take the Twitter title as well as the Wessex League title, so was taken wholly by surprise by the team from the New forest, who have finished mid-table in their first season back in the Premier League. It’s a mystery to me how they’ve managed it, but a huge well done to them in managing to raise their profile to such a level. And depending on what happens at Bashley they may well soon be flying the flag for the forest itself.

Wessex Prem Twitter

Wessex 1 Twitter


1. Brockenhurst 1624

2. Sholing 1388

3. Team Solent 853

4. Petersfield Town 806

5. Alresford Town 758

6. Blackfield & Langley 712

7. AFC Portchester 696

8. Verwood Town 645

9. Newport IOW 590

10. Winchester City 587

11. Horndean 578

12. Andover Town 513

13. Fleet Spurs 508

14. Bournemouth 498

15. Christchurch 486

16. Fareham Town 426

17. Hythe & Dibden 416

18. Cowes sports 415

19. Bemerton Heath 397

20. Folland Sports 365

21. Hamworthy 310

22. Totton & Eling 290

23. Pewsey Vale 282

24. Moneyfields 276

25. Romsey Town 269

26. Laverstock & Ford 265

27. Amesbury Town 256

28. East Cowes Vics 255

29. Andover New Street 252

30. Hayling Utd 251

31. US Portsmouth 243

32. Fawley 242

33. Downton 223

34. Tadley Calleva 212

35. Ringwood Town 207

36. Whitchurch Utd 178

37. New Milton Town 108

38. Lymington Town – no twitter


Sholing FC – Now playing the Silverlake Arena

19 Sep

Driving past Sholing FC’s ground a few days ago I noticed a slight change to the sign at the entrance gate; In big letters above the clubs crest appeared the words Silverlake Arena – The ground has, it appears, succumbed to trend of being re-baptised at the behest of a sponsor, but am I right to feel somewhat sad that a club in the Southern League South and West Division has auctioned off its ground naming rights?

The newly renamed Silverlake Arena

A few words about the old name; VT Sports Ground, was the legacy of Sholing’s recent past as a works team known latterly as VTFC and before that, from 1960 until the 2002/3 season, Vosper Thornycroft FC. Vosper Thornycroft being the name of the shipyard in nearby Woolston which closed in 2003 bringing to an end a ship-building association with the area stretching back almost a century to when the firm of shipbuilders John I Thornycroft had relocated to the site from Chiswick in 1904.

And the old; The VT Sports Ground

Although VT Group PLC, now diversifying into new areas of business, retained a head office in nearby Hedge End, and the club continued as a works team, taking the name VTFC to reflect the change in ,name of their parent company, various corporate maneuverings – in 2010 the company was taken-over by Babcock International PLC – have meant that the firms ties with the area in which the club was located had become fully eroded. In the same year as the Babcock takeover the club announced they would be taking on the name of Sholing, the name of the suburb adjoining their ground (see here for an article I wrote at the time), citing the hope that this would potentially bring greater investment and support from the community. Around the same time as this the last vestiges of the old shipyard were also being cleared away as a major new housing development began to take shape. It seemed in many ways both the club and the city itself were moving on.

Erased from the landscape: The site of the Vosper Thornycroft Shipyard in 2010

On-pitch the clubs successful run of the previous few years continued. 2nd place in their league and runners-up in the Hampshire Senior Cup in the first sason following the name change, and a respectable 4th place last season. In terms of attendances however, there seems to have been a rather more muted response; for 2009/10 ,the last as VTFC, crowds averaged 128 whilst the average two years later, in 2011/12, stood at 141. The renaming of the ground can be taken as a positive indication that the club is at least attracting the new income streams from local businesses it needs to move forward in the absence of a corporate benefactor.

The new ground sponsors, Silverlake, who are primarily in the business of auto-salvage, are family run and based at a site not too distant from Southampton their website speaks of a desire to play a role in their local community:

Supporting the Hampshire community through sponsorship of events, clubs and organisations is a key objective of the Silverlake group of companies. Additionally we support Hampshire based schools, colleges, Hampshire Fire & Rescue services, and various military bases in the area; supplying vehicles for training and educational purposes.

So is it any worse that the clubs ground is now named after this local business, Silverlake, rather than VT Group who are now just a division of a faceless multinational corporate entity?

The answer is, on reflection, probably no, but can’t get over the slight disappointment when I first saw the new sign. It’s not just a snobbish response to the use of the term ‘arena’, which conjures up images of Bruce Springsteen, or Axl Rose strutting and preening on a giant stage in front of a towering megalopolis of amplifiers and video-screens, it’s something deeper –  a despair that the commercialisation at the top of the game is now reaching further down the pyramid.

Whilst the pragmatists may point to the revenue raised from auctioning naming rights, for the romantics there is just something about the history involved in old football ground names, names which however uninspired (after all VT Sports ground wasn’t the most inspired) endured for generations and recalled previous uses, benefactors, characters and stories; Just like the Goldstone ground so named after the Goldstone which sat on Goldstone Farm – upon which the football ground would later be built;

The story is that, according to folklore, the Goldstone ended up in its original location after being thrown by the Devil when he was excavating nearby Devil’s Dyke to let in the sea through the South Downs drowning the population. Also once thought to be a sacred Druidic stone it was buried by a disgruntled farmer aggrieved at the tourists trampling his crops to get a closer look. Excavated in 1900 the Goldstone now resides in a park in Hove.

Brighton and Hove Albion currently play in the American Express Community Stadium.

The Amex, as it is known, is a brand-new 28 000 seater venue and no doubt Brighton fans, after various trials including sharing with Gillingham in Kent and spending years cramped in a barely adaquate council-owned sports ground, were delighted to set foot in it whatever the name.

But, as the protaganist in the book Life of Pi asks; “Which story do you prefer?”

%d bloggers like this: