Boss Bickram Singh has big plans for Mid-Solent League title favourites Meon Milton
Bickram Singh is closing in on celebrating his first season as a manager by winning the Mid-Solent League title.
The former Gosport Borough and Moneyfields regular took over as player-boss at Meon Milton last summer.
He has so far overseen an unbeaten campaign with the remarkable 6-4 win against Mob Albion at the weekend rubber-stamping his side’s position as champions-elect.
Meon entered the game at Westleigh Park three points clear of second-placed Mob, but fell 2-0 down inside six minutes.
Incredibly, they hit back to lead 3-2 after 18 minutes and by half-time had extended their advantage to 5-2.
Though Mob pulled it back to 5-4, Meon clinched their sixth Division 1 win in seven games when Bayley Whitcombe completed his second successive hat-trick.
Meon now have a six-point lead at the top with themselves and Mob both having five games remaining.
Singh’s men need just 10 points to be crowned champions - ahead of their expected elevation to the Hampshire Premier League for the 2021/22 season - and that’s if Mob win all five of their remaining fixtures.
‘We’re going really well,’ said Singh. ‘I’m really pleased, we’re doing a bit better than I expected us to.
‘But I don’t think the league’s won yet. The Mob game wasn’t a title decider, we’ve still got games left and we need to play well.’
Singh, 38, started his youth career at Meon Milton before moving on to appear for Bognor Regis in the Conference South.
He went on to become part of Alex Pike’s Gosport squad that won promotion from the Wessex League in 2006/07 - the same season he scored Borough’s Hampshire Senior Cup winner against Hawks at Privett Park. But rather than play in the Southern League with its increased travelling, he joined Moneyfields.
Singh’s last club, prior to returning to Meon in 2019/20 because his friend Barry Hopkins was playing there, was Sussex outfit Pagham.
He then took over as manager of the Eastney Barracks-based club when Matt Hickley stepped down last summer.
‘What I wanted to do when I stopped playing was be a referee,’ Singh said. ‘But that never came off and I’m really enjoying managing now.
‘I want my teams to move the ball fast, I want us to be quick, to press high.
‘When we do that, we can be unplayable at times.’
Singh is hoping that his semi-pro background at Gosport and Moneyfields will help create higher standards at Meon.
‘One hundred per cent, yes,’ he remarked. ‘That’s what I want. I said when I took on the manager’s role I am here to win games.
‘It’s trying to get everyone together. If you’re late, you get fined - all that kind of stuff.
‘I don’t like lazy players, if the players aren’t doing what I ask they come off. You win games through hard work and the rest comes naturally.
‘I do like us to move the ball around.
‘I’m a fitness instructor I do want my players to train once a week, and I try to help them with their fitness.’
Singh has tinkered with the Meon squad he inherited, signing his brother Aran Singh from FC Strawberry, cousin Jagjit Singh and midfielder Dan Edwards.
Edwards was only playing Sunday football last season but the manager said: ‘With him and (Andy) Beckett, we’ve got the best midfield in the league. Both could play a lot higher.
‘Bayley is another one. He can be a frustrating player but if he gets his head right he could play higher.
‘He missed a few easy chances at the weekend but then he chips the keeper from 40 yards!
‘He’s only 20, and if we’re going to build a squad we need some youth - they provide some hunger and fitness.’
The only Mid-Solent game Meon have failed to win in 2020/21 was when they were held 3-3 by Wymering in their first post-lockdown fixture this month.
Missing five regulars, and with no recognised keeper, Meon trailed 3-1 before rescuing a point after Wymering had seen two men sent off.
‘I had to play at centre half in that game,’ recalled Singh. ‘We were lucky to get a result, we weren’t at the races.
‘We had a full back against them a week later and we beat them 7-2, we were literally unplayable.’
Singh has been offered the chance to return to Moneyfields to work alongside next season’s reserve team boss Lee Mould, a former Dover Road playing colleague.
He will turn it down, though, as he has big plans for Meon as they aim to follow the example of Harvest, the reigning Mid-Solent champions, in progressing into county football.
‘I want Meon to grow,’ he outlined. ‘This is a fantastic club - it’s big on youth development, and I want to have a good men’s side working its way up the levels.
‘The sky’s the limit. I want to go up to the next level, grow and develop, then look to go up again.’