Former Portsmouth season-ticket holder denied dream Fratton Park outing - but SO postcode AFC Stoneham striker still excited to face club he supports

Callum Laycock is relishing the chance to come up against the club he supports when Wessex League Premier outfit AFC Stoneham host Pompey in the Hampshire Senior Cup tomorrow night.

By Lewis Mason
Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 1:53 pm

The third round tie will provide Laycock the opportunity to face the team he used to cheer on from the stands as a Fratton Park season-ticket holder in his younger days.

Striker Laycock, 31, is something of a rarity within the Eastleigh-based Stoneham squad as a Blues supporter.

With the club's state-of-the-art Stoneham Lane home situated in the SO postcode, the former Gosport Borough, AFC Portchester and US Portsmouth forward is regularly ribbed by his Southampton following team-mates.

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AFC Stoneham striker Callum Laycock, right Picture: Ken Dear

But that doesn't bother Laycock, who used to wear a Pompey jacket to training in the early days after arriving at the club in the summer of 2019.

‘I’d say there’s probably three of us in the whole of the squad who are actually Portsmouth-based, the rest are all Southampton,’ said the AFC Stoneham striker.

‘When I first signed for Stoneham I was actually turning up for training in a Pompey jacket.

‘There were a few younger sessions going on before our training and a few of the other managers were like, ‘he’s got some balls turning up in his Portsmouth jacket over here,’ so I had to soon get rid of that and start wearing a Stoneham kit to training!

AFC Stoneham striker Callum Laycock Picture: Dave Bodymore

‘I grew up in Portsmouth, I’ve got loads of friends in Portsmouth, I’ve lived in Fareham all my life.

‘Growing up I had a season-ticket, when they were back in the Premier League days I used to go and watch them a lot.’

Unfortunately for Laycock his dream of a Fratton Park run-out was dashed when the scheduled meeting between the teams at PO4 in December had to rescheduled.

As a result, and with Danny Cowley's first-team getting behind on League One fixtures because of Covid-19 call-offs, the third-round tie was switched back to Stoneham after the Blues originally had concerns over playing on the Stoneham Lane 3G surface.

While with Pompey hosting Burton in the league this evening and currently experiencing somewhat of an injury crisis, a team likely to be led by professional phase development coach Liam Daish is almost certain to be made up of solely youth team players.

But Laycock is still looking forward to what promises to be a great occasion for AFC Stoneham.

He added: ‘It’ll be an unbelievable night for the club no matter what team Pompey put out.

‘It’s a big night for the club, it’s just a bit of a shame - all the boys were looking forward to Fratton - when we found out the draw the first person the chairman (Mark Stupple) came to was me and he said who we had in the next round. I was buzzing when he told me we had Pompey at Fratton.

‘It’ll still be a good night, fingers crossed we’ll still get a lot of people through the gate at Stoneham, the chairman told me in the 103 years Stoneham have been a club they’ve never played a professional club - it’s a good stat for Stoneham themselves.

‘We’ve just beaten Fareham 5-0 at Fareham so we’ll be going into the game confident we can definitely go into the next round.’