Locks Heath elect for continuity after manager Dave Fuge quits in wake of shock Hampshire Premier League Cup final loss

Locks Heath have elected for continuity after boss Dave Fuge quit in the wake of a shock Hampshire Premier League Cup final loss.

By Simon Carter
Tuesday, 17th May 2022, 1:07 pm
Sway on the attack. Picture by Ian Grainger.
Sway on the attack. Picture by Ian Grainger.

Fuge sent an email to chairman Andy Smith and the rest of the management team last Sunday morning informing them of his resignation.

The previous day, Locks had suffered cup final disappointment for the second year running.

A year after losing 2-1 to Bush Hill in the end-of-season supplementary cup final, Locks were drubbed 3-0 by Sway in the HPL Cup final at Winchester City.

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Locks (red) v Sway. Picture by Ian Grainger.

It was certainly an upset, with Locks having finished four places and 21 points ahead of the New Forest club in the Senior Division. They had also completed the league double over them, winning 6-1 away and 2-1 at home.

Smith has wasted no time in choosing a new manager, with Dave Hazelgrove and Ben Buckland appointed joint-bosses.

Hazelgrove was head coach under Fuge, while Buckland joined Locks last season - coaching the first team and reserves and also playing for the club’s veterans XI.

‘Those two have a wealth of experience and they know the players, it makes sense,’ Smith told The News.

Locks (red) v Sway. Picture by Ian Grainger.

Asked if he was surprised by Fuge’s resignation, Smith replied: ‘Yes and no.

‘I was a bit surprised it happened so quickly, but I had an inclination something was changing.

‘Dave’s got a very demanding job, a young family, and something had to give.’

Even if Locks had won the HPL Cup, Smith still believes Fuge would have left.

Locks' Chay Dugan is sent off. Picture by Ian Grainger.

‘I’m not convinced that would have changed his mind,’ he stated.

Fuge led Locks to the HPL title in his first spell in charge, in 2012/13. He returned in the spring of 2020 shortly after the first national lockdown had saved Locks from potential relegation to the second tier of the county league.

Bringing in virtually a whole new squad, Fuge revitalised the club. They were lying second in the Senior Division when the pandemic forced the end of the 2020/21 league season, but after restrictions were lifted the reached the supplementary cup final.

‘We owe Dave a big thanks,’ said Smith. ‘He helped to turn the club around.

Locks (red) v Sway. Picture by Ian Grainger.

‘The prospect of Locks Heath leaving the county league is low. We play on a council pitch, we groundshare with cricket, we can’t fence off the pitch.

‘But year in, year out I would like us to be a top three Hampshire League club. That’s where the club deserves to be.’

Both Locks and Sway ended the cup final with 10 men. Sway’s keeper was dismissed for a headbutt on Locks’ Chay Dugan, who was also red carded.

Striker Clayd Roach – who had a short spell with AFC Portchester in 2021/22 – was among the Sway scorers, converting a penalty.

Clayd Roach converts a penalty. Picture by Ian Grainger.
Locks (red) v Sway. Picture by Ian Grainger.
Locks (red) concede against Sway. Picture by Ian Grainger.