By Dave Kemp.

The ups and downs of another week saw Graham Rix’s AFC Portchester crash to Wessex League defeat as Michael Birmingham’s Horndean side turned a hard fought match in their favour to win 2-1 after falling a goal behind just before the interval.

Surrendering three opening day points to their near neighbours was put down to a variety of reasons – the best being that a one-goal lead is almost never enough to go on and win – but if a lesson was learnt, it could just be the key to going on and having a successful season.

Indeed, with Rix’s demands reaching even the hard of hearing among his squad, it took just a few days of training to inject what was necessary for them to put on their Sunday best, travel around to the Waterside Sports Ground and blitz hosts Fawley 3-0 to take another step in their hopes of reaching this seasons FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

Okay, even the management team may just think this is perhaps a step too far for the club – though the boss did play in three cup finals at Wembley for Arsenal – and will expect his lads to press on and see where top performances will take them, beginning next weekend when Mangotsfield United travel here from their Gloucestershire base in the next round of the competition.

Back to the bread and butter of the Wessex League, Saturday’s visitors Blackfield & Langley are being tipped to finish in the top three of the league table and have started well, winning both of their opening matches to top the table – and also reached the next round of the FA Cup after beating Bristol based Hallen FC at Gang Warily.

But as chairman Paul Kelly points out, it’s very early doors with regard who does what this season as after just a couple of matches played – or in Portchester’s case, just one and with 41 ahead of them – anything can happen.

“Losing our very first league match on the opening day of the season was disappointing but provided everyone learned from it – and mistakes won’t be repeated, then we can all move on, said Kelly.

In fact, it’s pure guesswork on how the season will pan out but my sole interest is with this community club at Portchester and how well we do this time around.

At the moment and looking ahead we have a squad here that look far stronger than ever before and hopefully the test of time will show the work we did through the summer months in bringing in fresh faces was well worth the effort”.

Injuries, suspension and work commitments can hinder the progress of this and many other ambitious clubs who are expected to field teams in numerous competitions, so often on a limited number of players available.

Success can also bring an amount of failure, progression in one or more of the many cup competitions – League Cup, FA Cup, FA Vase, Hampshire Senior Cup, Portsmouth Senior Cup or Russell Cotes Cup, could spell the end of a decent run in the title chase for promotion to the Southern League as players become brittle and tired playing too much football after a day’s work earning a living to pay the mortgage.

“That’s all so true of football at this level and probably applies to many other clubs in other higher based leagues than ours, said Kelly.

At the end of the day, we are all in this together, the cup competitions can be exciting and what football is all about, though it’s fair to say no club will win them all in one season as well as the league title.

But from where I stand, we have lost just once in the league so far and reached the next round of the FA Cup – so anything from here on in is possible”.


AFC Portchester
The Crest Finance Stadium
Wicor Recreation Ground
Cranleigh Road
PO16 9DP

+44 (0) 1329 233833