Tuesday 21 November 2023

AFC Portchester - Wicor Recreation Ground

AFC Portchester
Wicor Recreation Ground
Cranleigh Road
PO16 9DP

01329 233833

Ground Number: 1245
Tuesday 21st November 2023
AFC Portchester 1-0 Blackfield & Langley
Wessex Premier


The club was established in 1971 as Loyds Sports. They joined Division Six of the City of Portsmouth Sunday League. After amalgamating with Colourvision Rangers in 1973 they gained a place in Division Two. In 1976 the club became Wicor Mill, after which they joined the Portsmouth & District League. The club were runners-up in the Portsmouth & District League in 1998 and were promoted to Division Three of the Hampshire League. The following year they adopted their current name.[4] Division Three was also renamed Division Two and the club were runners-up in 2000, earning promotion to Division One. They were champions in 2002 but were unable to take promotion due to the lack of floodlights. They'd started to struggle by the time they joined the newly established and short-lived third tier of the Wessex League in 2004. When it was disbanded in 2007, AFC Portchester made the cut for Division 1, following a 4th-place finish. In 2012 the club finished as runners-up to Verwood, Town, earning promotion to the Premier Division. They've been there ever since their best finish came when they finished 3rd in 2015.

The club has reached the 2nd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup on four occasions. This has included a number of higher-division scalps, perhaps the most notable came in 2017 when they defeated Southern League Premier Dorchester Town 1-0 in the 1st Qualifying Round. AFC Portchester have also twice reached the FA Vase 3rd Round. Local cup honours include the Wessex League Cup in 2015 and the Russell Cotes Cup in 2014 & 2017. Well-known former players include former Football League striker Brett Pitman whilst former Arsenal player Graham Rix was manager. Portchester is a village in the Borough of Fareham in Hampshire. It is 4 miles northwest of Portsmouth and around 18 miles east of Southampton on the A27 road. Its population is just under 18,000.


In terms of new grounds on this day, there were seven possible options with either one or both of my regular hopping pals. I fancied staying closer to home after doing a couple of long-distance games on the previous two Tuesdays, so was always going to choose the closest option that was going ahead. I've always said that I'd not let work affect my free time but I'd recently been moved to 6 am starts. Whilst I felt fine the following morning after getting back at 1 am, I think it caught up with me later in the week. For that reason. it would be just Colin coming with me to AFC Portchester. It was one of my nearest grounds still to go to in the top ten levels of football. I planned everything on Sunday, including an Indian takeaway for dinner.
It was my usual day off on the day of the game and for once, I actually got a decent night's sleep for once, around 8 hours. I still walked to town later than I'd have liked though, picking up some Currywurst hot dogs from Aldi for lunch. I walked over ten miles in all which would only partially make up for all the junk food I consume. These were decent but not exceptional and I probably won't bother again. I had enough time to spend a few hours at home before leaving at 4. Tesco in Amersham had the cheapest fuel in the area and it was conveniently pretty much on the way to pick up Colin.  I was with him on time and he was there waiting for me. It was the usual slow run around the M25, the bulk of the hour delay being due to the roadworks at junction 10 which take two years to complete due to them only working part-time. From thereafter it was a good journey with us getting to the pre-match takeaway of Nahidz at 6.50. I ordered Hara Chicken Tikka and lemon rice for £11.50. We ate it at the ground before the game and mine was excellent. Less welcome was the unrelated random nosebleed as I came to finish it. I cleaned up in the toilet and was out in time for the game.


AFC Portchester were 4th in the league whilst Blackfield & Langley were 18th. The hosts had suffered a setback on Saturday as they lost 2-0 to AFC Stoneham. They had been unbeaten in 13 games before that. The visitors on the other hand had lost five in a row, the latest a 4-1 defeat at Sherborne Town over a week ago. It was an even start until AFC Portchester opened the scoring on 13 minutes. A good through ball found Josh Benfield who slotted home from just inside the area. The hosts were always on top, but no further goals came before the halftime break. The second half was a more muted affair. Portchester with the better chances but Blackfield and Langley holding their own without really threatening. There were no further goals, Portchester seeing the game out for a valuable three points.
The ground had a friendly atmosphere and played some great tunes on the tannoy. At half-time, I met Lee Roberts who was doing a commentary on the game. It was great to see non-league clubs being proactive in spreading the word. AFC Portchester have decent support and 215 for this midweek fixture was a good effort. We left at 9.45 and despite a road closure, Goggle had us back at Colin's by 11.25. I was home a little over ten minutes later, staying up for around an hour to type my blog and watch TV.


WICOR RECREATION GROUND was a far better ground than I expected. There are several small stands offering cover, around 250 seated and 400 standing. The rest of the ground is open to the elements. Smart and functional rather than a classic, it's a shame there is not more orange. It's a friendly club and there is reasonable food and drink facilities. Outside the bar are a number of benches and tables which are very useful. There's also a decent amount of parking and card payments are accepted. Portchester centre and train station are half an hour's walk away. Nahidz takeaway is good for a midweek curry or the Delme Arms looked like a decent pub and they sponsor the club. As for the programme, it is online only but is a good effort. 

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