Curtain lifts on new era for Hampshire Premier League trio Meon Milton, Harvest and Whiteley Wanderers

Meon Milton and Harvest lift the curtain on a new era at their clubs this weekend.

By Simon Carter
Friday, 3rd September 2021, 12:28 pm
Former Strawberry striker Connor Mansfield will be playing in the Hampshire Premier League for Meon Milton this season.
Picture: Chris Moorhouse
Former Strawberry striker Connor Mansfield will be playing in the Hampshire Premier League for Meon Milton this season. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Both clubs are competing in the newly-created Division 1 South East of the Hampshire Premier League, and both clubs have entered reserve teams in the new-look Mid-Solent League.

They are the only two reserve sides in the eighth-team Division 1, with the new Burrfields reserves placed in the nine-team second tier.

Meon are making their HPL debut this weekend at home to Upham after winning the Mid-Solent League title for the first time in 2020/21.

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Whiteley have lost title-winning skipper Nathan Primus (holding trophy) to Wessex Leaguers Andover Town. Pic: Nathaniel Holland.

Most of FC Strawberry’s Mid-Solent team have come over to join Meon, and players such as Connor Mansfield and Freddie Hoare can expect to be in the HPL squad.

Former Hayling midfielder Matt Hiscock is another new face.

Singh said: ‘We’re going in the right direction - I’m confident we could do well in this league.

‘We’ve got good players but we need to gel them together like we did last year.

‘It’s all about their mindset - we need to be there on the day in mind and body.’

Harvest begin their second HPL campaign at home to Michelmersh & Timsbury.

Boss Steve Harris has brought in a host of new signings.

Callum Harman, Jordan Garner and Harry Lee have all come from Wittering United, along with Harris’ new No 2 Wayne Lawton.

Teenager Jacob Palmer and defender Pete Hunt have arrived, along with two friends who have relocated to the area from London - defender Churchill Chia-Titor and attacker Louis Hounvio.

Young full-back Owen Oliver, from Clanfield, is also in the squad this weekend.

Harris explained: ‘We needed it (the signings). We had a depleted squad and it was an ageing squad as well.

‘Some players I got rid of, some have gone into the reserves - that’s the whole point of having a reserve team. Now we’ve got a much younger team and a much, much fitter team.’

Asked if promotion was the aim, Harris said: ‘I won’t be able to answer that until about December.

‘We’ve only played two of the teams in our division - I don’t know what they’ve got.

‘I’m quietly confident but I’m keeping my cards close to my chest.’

Whiteley Wanderers, like Meon, are newly promoted to the HPL Division 1 South East division.

They have had a rapid rise since being formed just three years ago, winning three successive Southampton League titles.

‘The team has progressed quicker than the club,’ confessed boss Steve Thomas ahead of Wanderers’ curtain-raiser against AFC Petersfield.

‘I never expected within three years of being formed we would be playing in the county league.

‘A few years ago we were playing on grotty pitches with cowpats all over them.’

Thomas wants to carry on progressing through the pyramid.

‘If it was up to me and the players,’ he said, ‘we’d be playing in the Wessex League in a few years time. But that depends on the facilities.

‘The club is playing catch-up, but Whiteley as a place is only going to grow and hopefully the club will grow as well.

‘We want to go as far as we can. Whiteley’s an affluent place and the local schools encourage sport.

‘It’s exciting times for us.’

Wanderers have lost skipper Nathan Primus - son of Linvoy - to Wessex Division 1 club Andover Town, while ex-AFC Bournemouth pro Jake Cope has joined Southern Leaguers Sholing.

To replace Primus, Australian defender Joe Besci has been recruited - he was recommended to Thomas by ex-Pompey player Micky Mellows.