Friday 13th January 2012 ko 7.45pm
Wessex League Division One
TEAM SOLENT 3 (Kinge 20 Churms 30 Edwards 74) Edwards missed penalty 74
PETERSFIELD TOWN 1 (Coker 70)
Entry & Programme £4
Pot Noodle £1.50
Test Park, is the Sports Ground of Southampton Solent University, and is to be found on Lower Brownhill Lane, just off Junction 1 of the M271. It’s a modern set-up with some real quirks. The car park is small and the lane narrow, so its well worth arriving early to get a parking spot. There doesn’t appear to be good public transport links either. The team are attached to the University, and seem to attract players doing courses after being released by other football clubs.
The facilities have the feel of a leisure centre, rather than a Step 6 football team. You buy your match ticket at reception, and there’s a large lounge area. Its got ESPN tv, but the bar facilities haven’t been installed yet, so there’s a hot water urn, and sweets for sale. It does the job for now. The ground reflects the fact that its Team Solent’s first season in the Wessex League. The rails and floodlights are in place, as is the turnstile block, but the “Meccano” stand won’t arrive for another few weeks. The ground will have been massively improved, fulfil all ground grading issues, but be almost totally lacking in character. That, I suppose will come with age.
Another improvement with time will be how the club copes with 1. a crowd, and 2. the needs of groundhoppers. The procedure of selling tickets at reception at least meant the queue at the turnstile moved slightly quicker, but the real issue was that each ticket issued was having “Adult” and a message allowing free entry to their next home game written on the back of it. It may work when the attendance is 40 or so, on this occasion it produced a massive queue that meant many missed kick-off. I ended up getting the teamsheets photocopied, and the manager admitted that a lot of hoppers had asked for the lineups, and he’d told them to look in the programme. I’ve long since known that clubs don’t understand hoppers, and vice-versa! Mind you the club took heed of the number of phone-calls they’d received, and printed 150 programmes; I would imagine that’s around 6 times more than the normal print run!
One area thought the club has got right though is the playing side. On a bitterly cold evening they had far too much for their visitors. They raced into a two goal lead, before being pegged back before half time. They continued to dominate in the second period, and the winner came when Declan Edwards’ penalty was well saved by John Burnett but the rebound fell kindly to Edwards and he was able to tap home.
Correctly Team Solent are planing for Wessex Premier football. Whilst the hopper-fest tested them closely, they’ll have learned from the experience and I expect they’ll be far better able to cope next time they get a big crowd.