Increased gates have ‘definitely vindicated’ Moneyfields’ decision to take voluntary relegation back to the Wessex League

Moneyfields chairman Pete Seiden insists improved crowds have ‘definitely vindicated’ the club’s decision to drop back down into the Wessex League.

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 4th January 2022, 2:19 pm
Moneyfields' Steve Hutchings is tackled by Baffins' Rhys Lloyd during Monday's Wessex League clash in front of a record Dover Road crowd of 507. Picture: Martyn White.

The Copnor-based club spent four seasons - including the last two pandemic-wrecked ones - in the Southern League after winning promotion from the Wessex in 2017.

But they returned to step 5 football last summer for financial reasons, and Seiden is glad they did.

Moneys attracted a club record 507 crowd for yesterday’s Wessex Premier derby loss to Baffins Milton Rovers.

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It was easily bigger than any other attendance in Dover Road history and boosted their average league figure in 2021/22 to 172.

It was Moneys’ second 200-plus crowd this season, having welcomed 215 for the late November win against another PO postcode rival, AFC Portchester.

Compare this season’s figures to crowds of 115 (v Horndean), 83 (v Fareham) and 58 (v Portchester) in the club’s Wessex promotion winning season of 2016/17.

Going up to the Southern League didn’t really result in increased attendances either. These were the crowds for Moneys’ opening five Southern League Division 1 South games in 2019/20 - 101, 56, 64, 92 and 62.

‘The size of the crowds have definitely vindicated our decision,’ said Seiden with regards to taking a step down the non-league pyramid.

‘It was an unbelievable crowd (against Baffins) - the likes of Pete Shires, Micky Gee, Alan Smith, people who have been at Moneyfields forever, they were looking absolutely amazed at all the people there.

‘We ran out of change, we ran out of milk, we ran out of Foster’s … it was a really good day, there were no headaches with the parking.’

Yesterday’s crowd was not far short of the 518 who were at Baffins last August to watch Moneyfields lose 2-0 in the first Wessex clash between the two city rivals.

Over at Fareham, another big step 5 crowd - 621 - watched AFC Portchester win an ‘El Creekio’ thriller.

‘To get over 1,000 people for the two (Baffins) games is unreal,’ said Seiden. ‘If either Fareham or ourselves had been off, I think you’d have got close to 1,000 people.

‘The trouble with the Southern League is that you can lose fans. There’s a lot of travelling and not much affinity with some of the teams. In the Wessex around 90 per cent of the games are easy to get to

‘If we can carry on getting crowds around 250 it would be unbelievable. We’re a good team to watch - no-one can say they weren’t entertained yesterday. It was a good advert for that level of football.

‘Hopefully it was a good decision by the Wessex to let us back in. We hoped we would add to the league, and I think we have - no-one can say our games are boring.

‘We’re a couple of tweaks away from being a very good side. We didn’t do anything wrong (against Baffins), we just had a freakish five minutes.

‘I thought we were the better side over the whole game, they (Baffins) had a brilliant few minutes.

‘It was equally as good a game down there. We felt we could have won, but that’s why Baffins are top of the league and we’re not.’

Moneyfields can expect another 200-plus crowd later this month - they are due to host Horndean, one of four clubs level on 51 points at the top of the table, on Tuesday, January 18.