Folland Sports FC
Ground Number: 768
Friday 20th April 2018
Folland Sports 5-1 New Milton Town
Wessex League D1
FOLLAND SPORTS - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was formed in 1938 by workers of the Hamble-le-Rice aircraft factory and was initially known as Folland Aircraft. They've been known under a number of names during their history - Aerostructures S&S from 1990 - 1998, Hamble ASSC from 1998 - 2011 and then GE Hamble from 2011 to 2013. They started out in the Hampshire League and remained there until 1987. Folland Sports had a particularly successful spell between 1979 and 1987 when they progressed from Division 4 to Division 1, finishing 3rd in their final season. This allowed them to progress to the Wessex League where they remain to this day. Whilst the league was a single division, finishes ranged from 9th in 1992 to second-bottom on two occasions. In 2004 the league expanded to two divisions and the club struggled in the top tier, eventually being relegated to Division 1 in 2009. They bounced back immediately though, winning Division 1 at the first attempt. Another spell in the Premier Divison followed with Folland Sports enjoying a record 3rd place finish in 2014 behind Sholing and Arlesford. Despite an 8th place finish the following season, the club finished bottom of the Wessex Premier in 2016 and have continued to struggle in Division 1. A 17th place finish last season has been followed up with them sitting bottom and well adrift of safety should there be step 7 teams available to replace them for next season.
In the FA Cup, the club's best ever season came in the 2010/11 season. That year they beat Christchurch, Longwell Green Sports, Wootton Bassett Town and Old Woodstock Town before a 2-0 defeat at Farnborough in the 3rd Qualifying Round. In the 2012/13 season, they had their best run in the FA Vase - beating Wootton Bassett Town, Winterbourne United, Bristol Academy and Moneyfields before a 2-0 home defeat to fellow Wessex League side Blackfield & Langley in the 3rd Round. Local cup wins include the Southampton Senior Cup three times, the Reg Mathieson Cup twice, the Wessex League Cup in 1998, the Hampshire Senior Cup in 1941 and the Hampshire Intermediate Cup in 1980. Folland Sports are based in Hamble-Le-Rice and despite a population of 4,695 the village is also home to Wessex League rivals Hamble Club, with them playing in the Premier Division at the moment. The village's most famous residents are gangsters Ronnie & Reggie Kray who once owned a cottage in the village although it's unclear if they plied their allegiance to either of the villages teams.
I’m always up for a game on a Friday night, providing it’s within a reasonable distance. There were two options tonight - a trip down to Hampshire to see Folland Sports or a revisit to Windsor who were offering free entry for their game against Bracknell. The former was always likely to win and so I did my research and found that I could get a train into Southampton for £5.10 return, fairly reasonable in the grand scheme of things and it meant I could have a couple of pints and dinner somewhere. I also did my research into the history of Folland Sports as I do before every groundhop if I can. The day of the game came and I was up at 4 am as usual for work. Thankfully, it was a fairly easy shift for a Friday and I was out by 12.15. I grabbed myself something from McDonald's and a bottle of diet Irn Bru before going to my car. Unbelievably, some idiot had just dumped their car in the middle of the car park, not even in a space despite there being loads. I was waiting around to see what happened with the car attracting plenty of attention but even after a full half hour of me eating my lunch, having a drink and catching up online, the driver still wasn’t back despite multiple announcements in the store. I wasn’t going to waste my afternoon, even though I was curious as to what this waste product of a human being looked like. I left at 12.50 and the journey wasn’t best. There was half an hours delay in all, thanks to a combination of the M4, M3 and local roads. Eventually, I got to the ground at 2.40, parked up and headed to Hamble station. There was a 45-minute delay on the train, but for once it worked in my favour as I only had to wait less than 10 minutes for an hourly service. The official story was a broken down train, but rumours of a massive punch up on the train in front, resulting in the police being called and the train being stopped seemed more likely in the current world.
So I got to Southampton at 3.20 and my pub stop of The Stable around 20 minutes later. Thanks to a tasting board, I was able to try five new ciders across less than two pints, all new ones, thanks to the Untappd app on my phone. There was a shed load of great pubs in Southampton, but they will have to wait, with me having driving responsibilities later, I wanted to be finished drinking good and early. It was nice though, not to be in a rush and to be able to properly taste my drinks rather than having to hurry. I had a stroll around Southampton and after a stop at Poundland for drinks and crisps, I was on my way. Sod’s law would dictate that I arrived at the station a minute late and would have to wait 59 minutes for my next train and understand the complaints I see on Twitter for such a patchy service. The staff don’t deserve it of course. It’s the folks above that are raking it in and are well protected as they are not the ones that deal with the complaints. The train was slow too, pausing for ages at each station, though I eventually got back to Hamble station at 7.10. Twitter was up the spout too, it was frustrating not to be able to send tweets out. It was only 10 minutes walk to the ground, so I got a basic curry and rice from the local takeaway for £4. I got to the ground 10 minutes before kick off and paid a great value £5 including programme, albeit it an outdated one from the original fixture.
Hosts Folland Sports were not in the greatest of form and were well adrift at the bottom of the table. They'd had to wait until April 7th for their first home win (though it was a notable one as they beat high-flying Alton) and aside from that, they'd not won in 8 out of their last 9 games. New Milton Town meanwhile were struggling for consistency - winning 4 and losing 5 of their last 10 games. It was the visitors who took the lead in the opening few minutes through Dom Falco, though I couldn't see it very well as I was up the other end of the pitch. ON the half-hour mark, it was all square, Sanchez McClean capitalising on sloppy defending to bundle the ball home. New Milton Town had been the better side in the first half but it was Folland Sports who turned it around in the second. First on the hour mark, Lewis Crook gave them the lead with a smart finish from the edge of the area. Then, five minutes later, it was 3-1. This time it was McClean with his second as he caught New Milton keeper Matt Hollier of his line. The custodian was quite rightly furious at his defence after their sloppy defending left him brutally exposed. There was only a couple of minutes to wait for the forth, Ryan Lambert with a shot into the top corner which was very similar to the second. The scoring was completed around 70 minutes in, McClean completing his hat-trick as he converted a square ball across the six-yard box.
After a considerable amount of injury time, it was time to leave. It had been a great night, great value and a friendly welcome at a decent ground. I'd met a couple of fellow groundhoppers who recognised me from the app and my blog. Before I headed for home, I called in at the Chinese to get some chips. Sadly they didn't do salt and chilli ones so I had to make do with plain. They did fill me up for the journey home though, with me leaving at 10. I tuned into the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT which as ever, was brilliant. There were plenty of delays on the way home with closures on the M27 and M3 resulting in local roads getting clogged up. I got home at 11.55, listening to the Two Mikes until 1 before going to sleep at 3 after watching TV and YouTube.
Follands Park is a ground with plenty of character and it's fairly well kept. There's a seated stand with around 150 capacity and then a further small stand behind one goal, though this is currently being used for storage. Another feature at the ground is a model aeroplane in one corner of the ground - a nod to the fact that the team were formed as part of the Follands aeroplane plant. The rest of the ground has open flat standing with an official capacity of 1,000 but a bigger physical capacity.
There's a basic tea bar at the ground with burgers and bacon rolls but better choice can be had a few minutes from the ground with a Chinese and a chippy. The latter is the better and there is also a Co-Op shop. The bar is spacious and has a reasonable range of drinks though I'm unsure of prices as I didn't buy anything.
SCORES ON THE DOORS
1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)
Fairly well kept, lots of character (8)
2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
Couple of takeaways nearby, station walkable (7)
3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Was made to feel welcome (7)
4: Value for money
Fiver with a programme was great value (8)
5: Social Media & Website
Website passable, good Twitter (7)
My out of date issue was free with entry. Had the facts, but not much else (6)
7: Game entertainment
Good, but one-sided (6)
8: Tea Bar
OK, but not a huge selection (5)
9: Bar / Clubhouse
Spacious, reasonable range (6)
10: Club Shop
TOTAL SCORE OF 90: 60
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.66