‘No point winning the league if you’re only getting 10 people watching’ – boss Pete Stiles on his ‘great entertainers’ Fareham Town’s remarkable record

Fareham boss Pete Stiles admits his side’s defensive record is cause for concern.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 12:17 pm
The great entertainers - Fareham celebrate one of their 83 Wessex League Premier Division goals in just 26 games this season. They've also conceded 64. Picture: Paul Proctor
The great entertainers - Fareham celebrate one of their 83 Wessex League Premier Division goals in just 26 games this season. They've also conceded 64. Picture: Paul Proctor

But he’s generally happy that the Reds have earned themselves the nickname of non-league football’s ‘great entertainers’ this season.

Wednesday’s thrilling 5-4 success at title-chasing Baffins took Fareham’s Wessex Premier goal tally to 83 in 2021/22.

Only Southern Combination outfit Littlehampton (94) and Wessex rivals Horndean (87) have scored more often across the 14 step 5 divisions of the English pyramid this term.

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Fareham, though, have also conceded 64 goals - the seventh highest number in their 21-club division.

Overall, their 26 games have provided an astonishing 147 goals at an average of 5.65 per game.

That is - unsurprisingly - the highest average across step 5 football. Next best is Western Leaguers Bridport, whose 26 games have produced 141 goals at 5.42. But considering 130 of those have ended up in their own net, it is unlikely the Dorset club view that record as particularly entertaining!

The Reds fans feel differently, hence their club currently averaging 271 for Wessex fixtures - the highest in the division and a 72 per cent increase on 2020/21 attendances at Cams Alders.

This is why the gates are high - Fareham have netted three or more times in 12 of their 26 games, and conceded three or more on 10 occasions. They have failed to score just three times and kept only four clean sheets (three of which have come against the bottom two, Amesbury and Hythe).

With such a free-scoring attack, Fareham should be challenging for the title - Littlehampton and Horndean are, after all, top of their divisions. But the Reds aren’t even in the top 10 due to their defensive frailties.

‘Of course I’d like us to concede fewer goals,’ Stiles declared.

‘But how do you measure success in football? Do you measure it in getting people through the gate because you’re providing entertaining football?

‘There’s no point winning the league if you’re only getting 10 people watching.

‘We’re mid-table but we’re getting the biggest crowds in the league and are financially comfortable as a result.

‘Yes, I would like us to be higher (in the table) but football is an entertainment business, isn’t it?

‘Some people might say it was Sunday League defending (in the Baffins match) - and it was, I get that. But those there will go away saying they’ve seen a cracking game. We might not be top of the league, but people are enjoying watching us.’

‘We’ve been able to spend a bit of money on the ground. Cams (Alders) was like Rorke’s Drift at one point, because we didn’t have any money to spend on it.

‘Now it’s looking a bit smarter and it’s helping to give people a more enjoyable experience.’

As per usual, Stiles will have to make changes for this weekend’s home match against Blackfield.

Striker Stuart Morgan - who scored twice at Baffins - and centre half Ross Kidson are unavailable, while Garry Moody, who partnered Kidson in midweek, is doubtful with a dead leg.

Keeper Henry Woodcock will be monitored after suffering a calf injury at Baffins.

The Reds fielded a strong-looking XI in midweek, but Stiles said: ‘I have a lot of competition for places.

‘Elliott Holmes, who was a pro at Hull City, was on the bench and Ben Rowthorne, who captained Southampton U18s and U23s, wasn’t even in the squad. Ash Tattersall was out injured.’