‘The gulf is enormous’ – Moneyfields chairman Seiden ready to welcome AFC Portchester’s familiar faces for a mouthwatering FA Vase tie

Chairman Pete Seiden welcomes a host of familiar faces back to Moneyfields insisting his club are ‘massive underdogs’ against AFC Portchester in a mouthwatering FA Vase tie.

Thursday, 23rd September 2021, 8:36 am
Joe Briggs (left) is among the many former Moneyfields players now at AFC Portchester. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

Chairman Pete Seiden welcomes a host of familiar faces back to Moneyfields insisting his club are ‘massive underdogs’ against AFC Portchester in a mouthwatering FA Vase tie.

Seiden believes there is an ‘enormous gulf’ between the two squads - and he is in a better position than most to judge.

Ex-Moneys boss Dave Carter returns to Dover Road for the first time on Saturday in a Vase second qualifying round tie. It is a shame for local football that one of the clubs will have to exit the tournament so early.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Carter has rebuilt the Portchester squad since taking over in February, and has taken most of last season’s Moneys squad with him. Of the matchday 16 against Stoneham last weekend, 13 were former Moneys players.

While many of the Royals squad have bags of Southern League experience, Moneys boss Glenn Turnbull has mainly relied on players who were in Wessex 1 with him at US Portsmouth last season.

Seiden said those facts shouldn’t be ignored ahead of a tie which is expected to shatter Moneyfields’ record attendance - currently 252 against Fareham Town in 2005.

It could well be the third 500-plus crowd for a PO postcode derby this season - after 503 (Baffins v Moneyfields) and 502 (Portchester v Fareham).

‘The gulf is enormous between the squads in terms of experience and ability,’ Seiden declared.

‘A lot of our players haven’t played 20 games in the Wessex Premier. They have players who’ve played 100 times at Conference South level.

‘They have four players who have played at Wembley - Sam Pearce, Brett Poate, Lewis Fennemore and Lee Wort. You don’t see that in many Wessex Premier squads.

‘They are as good a squad as you’ve seen in the Wessex Premier.

‘To lose to us would be borderline embarrassing because of what they’ve got in their squad and what we’ve got.

‘They are the big favourites because they’re expected to beat us and they’re expected to go far in the Vase.’

Seiden added: ‘It will be nice to see the players again - Curt Da Costa, Tyler Giddings, Jake Raine, they were in my youth team and reserves. Conor Bailey was there a long time, Joe Briggs always did well for us.

‘Apart from Saturday, I wish all those players well. I fully understand why they left for another challenge.

‘Some of them have told me they left because they wanted to have a go at winning the Vase (at Portchester).

‘I’m hoping for a crowd between 300-400. Everyone locally is talking about this game.

‘It’s a rare spectacle - you’ve got virtually the entire old Moneyfields team coming back to play a virtually new Moneyfields team.

‘I’d say nine of their starting XI would have played for us - the only ones who haven’t are Lee Wort and George Colson.

‘Even Steve Ramsey played a few games for us when Dave was here, he was dual signed from Portchester.

‘It’s a great bit of extra spice to have all those players and Portchester’s entire management team - Dave, Gav Spurway, Brett Poate - coming back.

‘Knowing Dave (Carter) as I do, he will be desperate to win this game. When he was at Moneyfields he always wanted to beat Horndean because that was his former club.’

The Vase tie is the first of two big games at Dover Road in four days, with US Portsmouth arriving next Tuesday for the first ever Wessex League game between the two clubs.

Yet again, there will be a huge dollop of extra spice ladled onto the fixture due to so many players coming up against their former club.

‘It’s not exactly a free hit for us (against Portchester) because we want to win, but there’s no pressure on us,’ said Seiden. ‘We’re massive underdogs. The pressure will be on us when we play USP next week.

‘I’d imagine most people would like to see us beat Portchester, but then most people would like to see USP beat us next Tuesday.

‘It’s all brilliant for local football.’

US Portsmouth began their historic run to the Vase semi-finals last season with a victory at Portchester in the second qualifying round. Yet again, Turnbull’s side are casting themselves as underdogs, a role they enjoyed in 2021/22.

‘It’s similar to last season. USP were playing teams at Wessex Premier level and they were Wessex 1,’ Seiden stated. ‘Now they’re playing Portchester who have a Southern League squad and we’re Wessex Premier.

‘They are definitely big favourites but if we had a fully fit frontline they’d be slightly less favourites.

The injuries we’ve had to our strikers has been unprecedented.

‘At one point Dec (Seiden) was the only fit striker, but now he’s been injured, Steve Hutchings is only around 60 per cent at the moment - and that all has a knock-on effect on James Franklyn.’

Moneyfields asked Portchester if they would switch the tie to Friday night, but got knocked back.

‘If we’d played on a Friday we’d have got an extra 50-100 people in - local players would have come to watch. But you can only ask the question.’