Hayling United FC chairman: ‘We’ve got ambitions to get back to the Wessex League’

Paul Locke has plans in place to move forward with ground grading developments as Hayling United look to mount an assault to return to the Wessex League.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 2:34 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd April 2020, 12:39 pm
Hayling United won their last eight Hampshire Premier League games of 2019.20. Here, Jack Bishop is congratulated after scoring in the of them - a 5-0 victory at Locks Heath on March 15. Picture: Keith Woodland

The Humbugs chairman has desires to apply for promotion by the end of this year - and he is hoping the team can deliver on the field.

Manager Dan Bishop, who was originally meant to take charge of the reserves this term, enjoyed a fine first season in charge.

Hayling had won eight successive Hampshire Premier League Senior Division matches on the spin prior to the FA's decision to null and void the season because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

That saw them end the campaign in fifth position - level on points with Fleetlands, having played two games more - and Locke is now planning to move forward with plans off the field.

The club work in tandem with Hayling College - where they play home matches - and major improvements are in the pipeline.

But Locke sees no reason why the club could not make the necessary improvements in order to return to the Wessex League in two seasons' time.

‘We came down from the Wessex League in 2014,' he recalled.

‘I’ve been chairman now for a year, we’ve put the goals in and those were little steps and trying to progress season upon season.

‘We’ve got an agreement with Hayling College, there is a short-term plan and a long-term plan there.

‘They’re selling land and developing the site.

‘They’re going to relocate our pitch to another area and different types of facilities.

‘This is in tandem with us but it’s a slow process. Hopefully it will come to fruition in the next few years.

‘We’ve got ambitions to get back to the Wessex.

‘Having seen clubs like Fleetlands and Infinity applying to go up, we could apply to go up to the Wessex One.

‘Our facilities are near on there that we require.

‘It’s something we’re going to be investigating in pre-season and when it comes to application at Christmas we’ll look to put in.'

Bishop's stock has risen following a fine maiden campaign in charge of the Humbugs.

The hope is the premature end to the season will not halt Hayling's momentum whenever they are allowed to return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But Locke is optimistic both Bishop and his talented young squad will stay at the club.

'We’re in constant contact (myself and Dan),' he added.

‘They’ve bought into the idea, they’ve brought into the club.

‘It’s an open forum.

‘We all want to get the club in that position.

‘How we do it, it’s all relaxed, there’s not a lot of pressure on the guys.

‘We just want to progress season on season, maybe this year (2020/21) we’ll be looking at getting into the top four - I don’t know.'

Hayling previously spent 10 seasons in the Wessex League after entering in 2004 at Division 3 level.

After three successive top three finishes, the club found themselves in the top flight by 2007/08 - and that season they finished 12th in the Premier.

That was to be their best finish in a six-season stay in the top flight, with the Humbugs returning to county league football after finishing third bottom of the Wessex Division 1 in 2013/14.

They started off in Division 1 of the HPL, winning promotion to the Senior Division in 2015/16 where they have remained ever since.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on portsmouth.co.uk. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to portsmouth.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit our Subscription page now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.