Moneyfields FC ‘would 100 per cent have folded’ if ground development plans had been thrown out

The highest-ranked non-league club in Portsmouth ‘would 100 per cent have folded’ had redevelopment plans not been given the green light.

By Simon Carter
Friday, 14th February 2020, 9:28 am
Updated Friday, 14th February 2020, 9:29 am
A computer generated image of Moneyfields' proposed new £3.5m stadium. Picture: PLC Architects
A computer generated image of Moneyfields' proposed new £3.5m stadium. Picture: PLC Architects

Work will begin this summer on a new £3.5m complex at Copnor-based Moneyfields FC which has safeguarded their future.

The Southern League Division 1 South club should hopefully be playing on a 3G pitch come the start of the 2021/22 season.

A brand new social club and changing room complex will also be in place at a stadium which will be named after Portsmouth’s D-Day hero John Jenkins.

Moneyfields' current Dover Road facilities. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

In addition to all the Moneyfields teams, the development - which will boast two 3G pitches - will also provide a home for Portsmouth Women and Pompey in the Community activities.

‘This was our last throw of the dice,’ explained Moneys chairman Pete Seiden.

‘We are hanging on now. If this development hadn’t been passed, we would 100 per cent have folded.

‘Everything is falling to bits in terms of the facilities. Everything’s broken and we keep on having to patch it up.

The future of Moneyfields - (from left) Dexter West, 11, Kody Clark, 11, and Lily Willett, 10, pictured at the launch of the John Jenkins Stadium naming ceremony this week. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘Every time it rains there’s 15 buckets put out to catch the water.

‘If one of our players is a roofer, we’ve been relying on them to patch it up.

‘But it’s a seven-acre site. We can’t keep on just patching things up.

‘The all-weather surface is virtually unplayable now. It’s been there since 1990 and 20 years ago all our teams used to train on it.

A computer generated image of Moneyfields' proposed new £3.5m stadium. Picture: PLC Architects

‘Now it’s all about 3G, that’s the way the future is going.’

Seiden admits Moneyfields - who moved into their current facilities in 1994, changing their name from Portsmouth Civil Service Reserves as a result - will be aiming high once the new facilities are in place.

‘We’re the second ranked club in this city behind Portsmouth,’ he explained. ‘We want to be a Southern League Premier Division club.

‘We also want our reserves playing in the Wessex League so there’s less of a jump between them and the first team in the Southern League.

The trees that divide the two pitches at Moneyfields' Dover Road ground have started to be taken down. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘At the moment the gap is a big one - but if our reserves are in the Wessex League, our younger players can have a few years at a good level of men’s football before stepping up to the Southern League.’

Last year Moneys started that process by withdrawing their second team from the reserve-based Wyvern Combination and joining the Hampshire Premier League.

So far, the plan is working - Moneys are top of the HPL second tier, having won 11 and drawn one of their 12 games so far and almost certain to win promotion. In addition, they are through to the semi-final of the Hampshire Trophy - having been drawn away in five successive rounds and won the lot.

They are due to host Isle of Wight club Brading at the end of this month for a place in the final against Shanklin or Fareham Town Reserves.

Another promotion from the HPL top flight will take Moneys into the Wessex League.

‘Most clubs at our level rely on sponsors and volunteers. Without them, we might as well give up now,’ Seiden continued..

‘We had volunteers on the gate (against Mangotsfield) on Tuesday, volunteers preparing the pitch, and volunteers cleaning the changing rooms the following day.

‘Hopefully the new facilities and the link with Pompey in the Community will be a big help in attracting more supporters.’

They could certainly do with them. Moneys struggle to attract three-figure crowds, even in a football-centric city such as Portsmouth.

Better facilities will surely help, as might cheaper ticket offers for Pompey season ticket holders. Hawks routinely offer such deals on matchdays when Pompey are away, but Moneyfields are a Portsea Island club and, as such, should be leading the way when it comes to tempting Fratton Park regulars.

And a city the size of Portsmouth is surely capable of supporting a Southern Premier League club?

It is certainly deserving of new 3G facilities, after the Eastleigh/Southampton conurbation recently benefited from the opening of the £9m Stoneham Lane complex.

Seiden continued: ‘All the building work next season shouldn’t affect the team.

‘The target for (manager) Dave Carter next season will be the play-offs.

‘Every year our target is the play-offs, though we’ve written that one off this season. But Dave has had a lot of successful years - he took us to promotion and we’ve won a cup (the Portsmouth Senior Cup last season).

‘If he was successful every season, he wouldn’t be here!

‘Normally we look for the play-offs as a priority, with the cups a bonus. This season the cups could be the priority.’

Indeed. Moneys are through to the semi-finals of the Hampshire Senior Cup for the first time ever, with an attractive home tie against AFC Bournemouth on Tuesday, February 25.

They are also through to the quarter finals of the Portsmouth Senior Cup, with a tie against four divisions lower Denmead next up on a date to be confirmed.

Moneys reached the Division 1 South play-offs last season, but this term a combination of factors have left them in the bottom three.

That has been hard to take for a club used to winning more than they lose; after all, since 2006/07, Moneys have only failed to finish outside the top 10 in their league once, finishing in the top four six times.

Tuesday’s win against Mangotsfield, though, has taken them nine points ahead of the bottom placed team and eased any fears of a drop back to the Wessex League.

Building work on the new facilities is expected to start this July, but preparation is already taking place for when the diggers move in.

The trees that divide the two pitches - which have stood for over three decades - are this week being taken down.

A different sight will greet spectators at this weekend’s home league game with Bristol Manor Farm, therefore.

Next season, Moneys’ first team, reserves, under-18s and ladies teams will all continue to play at Dover Road.

The junior sides - who play on the pitch on the other side of the trees - will be relocated for 2020/21, hopefully all at the same venue and hopefully all on a 3G.

Seiden said discussions with local schools have already begun.