United Services have revealed the reason for withdrawing from the Southern Electric Premier League is down to a lack of support from within their own club.
US, who were relegated from division two last term, revealed they were allowed to drop into the Hampshire League because they were unable to continue to run their colts section – a key factor of Southern League membership.
It’s a huge fall from grace for the venue at Burnaby Road, which hosted first-class cricket until 2000, with Hampshire using the ground as its Portsmouth base.
But it underlines the sad demise of the club that they had so few volunteers willing to share the workload with others who devote so much of their time and effort.
Secretary Alan Atkinson said: ‘Sadly, we have withdrawn from the league.
‘One of the stipulations of being in the league is that you must have a colts set-up and we have had to disband our colts because of a lack of support.
‘Mark Hare and Fraser Quirke had run the show on their own and were unable to continue to do it.
‘Despite repeated requests for assistance, none has been forthcoming.
‘We needed adults to attend the games, manage the teams and help out, but nobody came forward.
‘It is quite sad, really, but there’s no way we can go back in the Southern Electric League.
‘I don’t see it happening for the foreseeable future.’
Atkinson admits himself he questioned his future but the club stalwart felt he would be letting others down.
He said: ‘I’ve been secretary for 13 years. I was thinking of resigning but I decided against it because I didn’t want to leave the club in the lurch.
‘It takes up a lot of your time and it’s the same people doing it every year.
‘It’s a bit of a comedown from the Southern League.
‘But we felt we didn’t have much choice.’
Skipper Lee Carroll had already decided to step down at the start of last season and hand over the captaincy to Mark Easton, while Tim Gadd will captain the second team in Hampshire League division four south next year.
But Atkinson admits there could be other changes to the playing staff who suffered from a lack of continuity last term as they were relegated from division two.
He said: ‘Some of the players in the first team are getting on a bit.
‘We need to attract new players, and with so many clubs in the area, it’s pretty difficult.
‘We don’t know if we’ll lose any more players yet.
‘Some might move on and that’s entirely up to them. Hopefully, that’s not the case.’
The withdrawal of United Services meant a stay of execution for Portsmouth & Southsea, who finished second from bottom in division three – a position which would normally have meant relegation to the Hampshire League.
Meanwhile, Burridge have had their place confirmed in the top flight after winning division one last term.