Meon Milton aiming to emulate Baffins Milton’s meteoric rise – with one major difference

Meon Milton are aiming to follow in the footsteps of Baffins Milton Rovers - with one major difference.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 12:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th January 2020, 1:26 pm
Meon Milton's Calum French and Harvest Home's Mitch Austin during last weekend's Mid-Solent League game. Picture: Vernon Nash

Baffins started the last decade playing in the Portsmouth Saturday League. They ended it in the top half of the Wessex League Premier Division.

It was a meteoric rise, and one which Meon player-boss Matt Hickley is keen to repeat at his club.

But he is in no rush to do so.

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Action from Meon Millton's Mid-Solent League game against Harvest Home at Langstone Sports Ground last weekend. Picture: Vernon Nash

Meon finished runners-up in last season’s Mid-Solent League behind champions Harvest Home.

Last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Harvest has virtually ended their chances of going one better this term, but Hickley is looking at the bigger picture.

While Harvest are keen to be playing in the Hampshire Premier League next term, Meon will definitely be staying in the Mid-Solent - for now.

Hickley moved the squad which formerly played under the Southsea United name to Meon Milton a few years ago.

Meon Milton player-manager Matt Hickley. Picture: Vernon Nash

Having played all his youth football at the club, he admitted: ‘Meon is in my blood - it’s a big part of who I am.

‘The youth section has been going since the mid-1980s - there’s more than 20 youth teams - so it was an easy decision to move the team over.

‘The aim is that every year some of the under-18s will be good enough to move up into the men’s squad.

‘I am ambitious to follow what Baffins have done, but there’s no rush - we need to ensure the men’s team is stable.

Meon Milton's Bill Cook, left, and Harvest Home's Nathan Newer in action last weekend. Picture: Vernon Nash

‘We also want to do things the opposite way to Baffins. They had a men’s team who had success and then put the youth structure in place.

‘The Meon Milton youth structure was already in place before the men’s team joined.’

Hickley was buoyed by last week’s performance against a Harvest side who have won every league game this season.

Only a late Jake Daniels strike prevented them becoming the first team to wreck Harvest’s 100 per cent run.

‘We had a game plan and we executed it well,’ he said. ‘We had a goal disallowed that was a bit suspicious and our heads dropped a bit after that.

‘We thought we deserved a point, if not all three as we played them off the park at times.’

A tough month for Meon continues this weekend with a home game against second-placed Strawberry followed by a Father Purcell Cup tie against Harvest.

Meon reached the FPC final last season, losing 6-4 to Strawberry. In addition, the Strawbs also completed the league double over them.

‘The standard is ok,’ Hickley said when asked about the quality of the 2019/20 Mid-Solent League. ‘The top few teams are good, the others not so to be honest.

‘Grassroots football at our level has suffered from the dire loss of many teams. I don’t know what the solution is.

‘I do know the Mid-Solent are trying to bring more young teams in, and that is definitely the right thing for them to do.’