Moneyfields has a big heart

Bar staff (left), Claire Upstell and Julie Cheshire pull pints at The Moneyfields Sports and Social Club in Copnor.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (132195-1)
Bar staff (left), Claire Upstell and Julie Cheshire pull pints at The Moneyfields Sports and Social Club in Copnor.'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (132195-1)
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It’s not a pub – but that doesn’t stop Moneyfields Sport & Social Club acting like an old-fashioned local that cares for the community.

The premises, in Moneyfield Avenue, Copnor, Portsmouth, has a bar where members and non-members can go to catch up after a long day.

Families of all ages stop by and do what they can to help.

If a light-bulb goes out then someone walking by will pop in with a new one.

And if there’s any painting to be done, people are always willing to have a go.

Things were getting tough before a band of volunteers led by new chairman Paul Gregory got together in 2011 and took it over.

With the help of staff and regulars, they ploughed £100,000 into the refurbishment of the bar and function room.

Committee member Pete Seiden, of Baffins, Portsmouth, has been involved since the new regime took charge.

His responsibilities include checking the bills are paid and making sure the day-to-day running goes smoothly.

‘We’re a sport and social club, like the ones that used to be around in the old days,’ he said.

‘We think we are the only genuine one left in the town.

‘We cater for everyone, from one-year-olds to 90-year-olds.

‘You often see four generations of the same family here.’

‘Everyone makes an effort to help out, even if it’s just for two hours.

‘If anything needs doing then someone will come along to help.

‘That’s how we survive.

‘Everyone knows each other here.

‘The only proper staff we have got are the managers, the rest are volunteers.’

Beforehand operations were led by a large group of shareholders.

Membership has since grown from 120 to 700.

There are at least three events a month and on Sunday there’s a family fun day complete with a bouncy castle, barbecue and games.

Everyone is welcome to go along to the event, which starts at noon.

Live music and discos are held regularly. The club is on seven acres of land which Moneyfields FC’s first, reserve and youth teams use to play.

It’s also home to Portsmouth FC Ladies and Moneyfields ABC boxing club have their own gym there.

Pete said: ‘Nobody takes any money out of the club.

‘All of the money goes towards investing in more resources.

‘There have been huge changes, mainly in terms of the number of members we have now.’

DEDICATED Claire Upstell is responsible for the running of the bar at Moneyfields.

She’s given a helping hand by her assistant manager Julie Cheshire.

Claire, 38, who lives near the social club, has worked there since she was 18.

She used to juggle her time working at a bookies before becoming a full-time member of staff when she became bar manager in 2011.

She loves every minute of her job and enjoys socialising with all the customers.

Talking about how things have turned around in the last few years, Claire said: ‘There’s been a huge transformation.

‘It’s very hectic but lots of families come by which is nice.

‘There’s a real sense of community here.

‘There’s always someone you know.

‘It’s good fun.

‘Everyone gets along and we don’t get any trouble.’

When the previous bar manager left, Claire jumped at the chance and has had no regrets since.

She said she can’t imagine working anywhere else now, and her two children Holly, 14, and Emily, 18, like to come by and join in the fun.

Committee member Pete Seiden said he was extremely grateful for all the hard work Claire and Julie do.

‘The club is doing so well because of the hard work of Claire and Julie,’ he said.

‘They go above the call of duty and that’s why the club works.’

Claire said: ‘It’s more than just a job, it’s a social thing.

‘All my friends come here.

‘We all socialise together – I just really enjoy it. If we are really busy some of the customers collect the glasses.’