COLIN Brans, life president of AFC Portchester, takes a look back at the beginnings of the club – sharing his memories of the journey from parks football through to the Royals’ climb through the Hampshire League’s divisions into Wessex football.
In the autumn of 1970, the Loyds retailers area manager asked me if we could get something going to build staff interest.
After a meeting of local staff, a darts match was organised in Hove in Sussex and was a success – the only problem was the 100 mile drive.
Another darts match against Fleet services was organised and played at the now defunct Greyfriars pub, just south of Farringdon in Hampshire, and again was a success but was still a 50 mile round trip.
Eventually a football team was suggested and although the ladies could not play we started training at Bath Lane in Fareham in 1971 and played five friendlies before joining the CPSFL in September 1971.
The ladies turned up to watch the games, until the weather changed!
We were lucky to have Bob Sansbury as our secretary and Loyds Sports spent two seasons under that name before Bob moved to Colourvision Rentals.
They became our first sponsors and we became Colourvision Rangers for three seasons. We went from Junior Division 6 to Senior Division 2 in four years, before
Bob’s wife became unwell and he had to resign. This led to myself becoming secretary in 1976 and a new home was needed. As we used the Wicor Mill pub in Portchester we moved in and spent 23 years as Wicor Mill FC.
After winning the CPSFL Senior Cup in 1994, we decided to go for Saturday senior football. Kevin Latham accepted the manager’s job, supported by his brother Graham, and they worked tirelessly to build a team to gain promotion to the Hampshire League.
After a few years we were successful in 1998 and as Wicor Mill we joined Hampshire League Division 3.
During our first season one of the Sunday teams let us down badly and after another meeting it was decided the Saturday club would become AFC Portchester.
In the early years we had some experienced players. In our first away Hampshire League fixture versus Amesbury, Rob Davy pulled off a replica save to Gordon Banks’ 1970 World Cup effort against Pele.
Rob was a Pompey youth player in his teens and his save enabled us to pull off a 3-2 victory, with Steve (Cuddles) Collins scoring a brace – great memories.
Our first season in Hampshire Division 3 saw a seventh place finish.
The playing staff had stayed with us. Defenders Tony Conelly, the Gillespie brothers and Darren Hill. In midfield we had Steve Collins, Lee Devine, the Fancey brothers and Paul Hinks.
Martin Shanahan played nine games, went on holiday and caught a virus and had to stop playing – he was a great loss for months.
Andy Sanderson started but was tempted away, as was Graham Renyard. With these three playing we could have won the division.
Late starters were Neil Barrett, Justin Andrews, Jamie Clarke, Ian Hutcheson and Lee Homan. Assistant manager Graham Latham played most of the games and was a good centre half.
In 1999-2000 we were promoted and became runners-up in Division 2. We had Steve Goldring in goal, another Pompey Youth player, and Paul Macfarlane who scored 26 goals and became leading goalscorer.
There was also Les Spencer, Dave Ball, the Chandler brothers, Loyd Cleife and Simon Rustell, and John Dodds added late firepower.
Season 2000-01 saw us finish fifth at the first attempt. Most of the players remained and Trevor Toghill, Matt Gibson and Jamie Sweeney first appeared.
In 2001-02 we were champions at the second attempt. Rob Paice became our goalie and there was Aaron Cobb, Dean Cole, Lee Todd and Lee Fancey, who became skipper.
All the players added to a good side. Dean Cole scored 25 goals and our last but one game was at Verwood.
Kevin Latham supplied moustaches and gave Graham his only start. Kev spent most of the game rolling around on the ground howling with laughter at Graham who sported a bushy tash.
A minibus had been hired for the players to celebrate in Bournemouth in the evening. I had to drive everyone home afterwards and Aaron Cobb turned up at 2.30am in his pants and socks, as did many others with some missing clothes.
To round the night off Lee Fancey found Kevin’s tracksuit and trainers in his kitbag under a seat and threw them one bit at a time out of his window, which brought more screams of laughter when Kev picked up his bag and realised it was all gone!
After the champion-winning season it was unfortunate we were not promoted and we lost players because of that. The Gillespie brothers, Dave Ball to injury, Dean Cole went to warm the Andover bench with Sid Sanderson, and Simon Rustell retired with Lee Fancey, both too soon.
We slid to a tenth place finish – Kev Latham was distraught, all the team building had to start again.
Some of our youngsters stepped up – Tom Pearce, Kevin Squibb, Ben Burgess, Mark Greenway – and did well but the heart of the team had gone.
In 2003-04, Damian Dalton joined and added strength to our defence, and there was Chris Dickens, Chris Chewter and John Woodcock. Simon Sherlock was a late addition with Calum Dyett. We improved but not to previous heights.
The year 2004 brought the Wessex League. A special mention to Kevin and Graham Latham, without whom we would not be the club we have become today.