Rowner Rovers hoping social media appeal for new players will help them break Mid Solent League points duck

Rowner Rovers are hopeful a social media appeal for new players will help them bag their first Mid-Solent League points in the first few weeks of 2020.

Monday, 30th December 2019, 5:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd January 2020, 10:27 am
Burrfields celebrate a goal against Rowner Rovers earlier this season in the Mid Solent League. Picture: Kevin Shipp

Rovers bucked a depressing recent trend of Portsmouth area clubs folding when they entered the MSL last summer.

The last few years have seen numerous clubs - from both Saturday and Sunday Leagues - call it a day for a variety of reasons.

The Dockyard Sunday League was forced to fold in 2014 - 101 years after its founding - due to a lack of clubs.

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Rowner Rovers (red) v Burrfields earlier this season in the Mid Solent League. Picture: Kevin Shipp

And the Portsmouth Saturday League ended in 2018, leaving the handful of clubs keen to carry on playing to form the new Mid-Solent League.

Rowner are one of just 11 MSL clubs - a far cry from even a decade ago when the Portsmouth Saturday League boasted 37 clubs across four divisions.

The Sunday League has been savagely hit as well.

In 1998, there were 152 teams playing in either the Dockyard League or the Portsmouth Sunday League.

Now, the PSL has 48 clubs in six divisions - with a top flight of just five clubs.

Rowner player-boss James Dedman said: ‘It seems Sunday football is more popular in Portsmouth than Saturday football.

‘It’s a bit different to where I come from in south west London.’

Rowner have put out a few appeals for new players on twitter and have been rewarded with some new faces at training sessions.

Dedman only recently replaced club chairman Tim Stickland as boss, with the latter stepping down due to work commitments.

Rowner have lost all nine MSL games so far, and some of the beatings have been heavy - 15-1 at Carberry, 14-1 at Portchester, 10-0 at Harvest Home and 10-0 at home to Cowplain in their second league game.

Before Christmas, though, they only lost 3-1 to Cowplain and for the first time were able to name three subs.

Prior to that, at times they had the bare 11 and twice this term were unable to field a team - once against Strawberry in the league and also in a county cup tie at Braishfield.

‘It’s not a bad league,’ said Dedman. ‘There are some good teams - Harvest Home are the best we’ve played, they’ve got quality all over the pitch.

‘We’ve just signed one new keeper and hopefully signing another one soon once the university students come back.

‘We could do with some wing-backs and wingers, though - and strikers.

‘Scoring goals has been a problem. I was the leading scorer at one stage and I play at left back!’

The next two games could provide Rowner – who have only netted four league goals in nine matches – with their long overdue first points.

They face two other clubs in the bottom five - taking on Burrfields this weekend and Horndean on January 11.

Rowner only lost 2-1 to Horndean earlier in the season and Burrfields only beat them 2-0.