‘That’s one less player who can score against us now! – Moneyfields sign former US Portsmouth striker Michael Dark

Michael Dark has been one of the most consistent scorers in the second tier of the Wessex League in recent years.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 12:10 pm
Michael Dark, left, in action during his time at US Portsmouth. Picture: Keith Woodland
Michael Dark, left, in action during his time at US Portsmouth. Picture: Keith Woodland

Now the Gosport-based striker - nicknamed Mig - will get the chance to impress in the top flight after joining Glenn Turnbull’s Moneyfields revolution.

Dark spent five seasons with US Portsmouth - netting 23 times in 30 matches in his first campaign, 2014/15.

He also struck 14 goals in 28 games in 2017/18 and netted another 16 in 24 matches the following season.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Dark didn’t get the chance to work with Turnbull, who took over as US’ first team boss in the summer of 2019, as he chose to join divisional rivals Hythe & Dibden instead.

He was to prove a thorn in his former club’s side in 2019/20, scoring in both of Hythe’s Wessex wins over US - only two of the four losses they suffered in 28 Division 1 games.

Dark struck 17 times in 23 matches for Hythe that season and added four more in 10 appearances in another pandemic-shortened campaign in 2020/21.

‘I tried to keep Mig when I took over (at US),’ Turnbull recalled, ‘so I’m glad to sign him - that’s one less player who can score against us now!

‘He gives us something different to the other front players we have.

‘He can play on the right side. When we played Hythe he was on the right side of a front three.

‘He’s a strong, powerful player that will give us extra cover on the flanks.’

Dark joins Steve Hutchings and Dec Seiden in the Moneys striker department, while James Franklyn offers extra firepower as an attacking midfielder having scored over 40 goals for USP in the last two seasons.

Turnbull missed out on signing ex-Pompey Academy player Oscar Johnston, who has instead joined Wessex rivals Baffins, but is delighted to have brought in former Southampton Academy midfielder Matt McGlinchey.

McGlinchey has recently returned to Hampshire after graduating from American university Fairfield - based in Connecticut - with a degree in Business Management & Finance.

The player’s dad is friends with Moneyfields coaches Paul Barton and Fraser Quirke and has a contract to play in the Australian A League - the highest level of the professional game in that country - next spring.

‘We’re looking good in midfield,’ said Turnbull.

‘Olly Long and Danny Burroughs were already here and I’ve brought in Callum Glenn and Jordan Pile from US. Macc (McGlinchey) is a pedigree signing too – he's a Rolls Royce of a player.

‘I thought Oscar Johnston was over the line as well – I'd met him a couple of times and even given him a lift home - but Wilky (Baffins boss Shaun Wilkinson) snatched him at the last minute.’

Moneyfields are also dual signing Bognor Regis midfielder Ashton Leigh, but the Rocks very much remain his first choice club.

Turnbull was on the hunt for another defender but is now leaning towards giving some of the reserves a chance.

The likes of Jake Knight - a sub in last month’s Portsmouth Senior Cup final win against Baffins - Stan Hopkins, Kieran Clark and Brandon Rogers can all play at the back.

They will get opportunities to impress in the pre-season programme which kicks off with a double header - reserves (1pm) and first team (3pm) - at Fleetlands this Saturday.

Defenders Elliott Turnbull, Tom Cain and Sonny Harnett-Balkwill are all unavailable for the trip to Lederle Lane.

Turnbull, meanwhile, revealed he could well take his squad back to the boxing ring.

The players had a session with fitness trainer Gavin Jones, who is Turnbull’s cousin and a member of Mikey McKinson’s backroom team, last week.

‘Gav said it was just sparring, no head shots,’ said the boss. ‘But everyone started laying into Caino (Tom Cain) and Gav was like ‘ok, fill your boots!

‘I think Caino was paying the price for all the abuse he dishes out on the WhatsApp group chats.

‘It’s a real option if we need it again - Gav knows what’s good for footballers.’