US Portsmouth mark Non-League Day with marching band and a dance troupe – while raising cash for a charity close to opponents Christchurch’s heart

A marching band and a dance troupe will be among the non-footballing attractions as US Portsmouth do their bit for Non-League Day.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 24th March 2022, 12:10 pm
US Portsmouth have lost their last five Wessex League Premier Division games, including a 4-0 home beating by high-flying Shaftesbury last weekend. Picture by Nathan Lipsham.
US Portsmouth have lost their last five Wessex League Premier Division games, including a 4-0 home beating by high-flying Shaftesbury last weekend. Picture by Nathan Lipsham.

On the pitch, Tom Grice’s men will on Saturday be aiming to end a run of five successive Wessex League Premier Division defeats against a Christchurch side who secured their top flight place for next season in midweek.

US have had a tough run, with games against top six clubs Shaftesbury (twice), Bashley and Stoneham in that run of losses.

This Saturday marks the 11th staging of Non-League Day, and the first since 2019 due to the pandemic. Always held during an international break, it provides a platform for clubs to promote the importance of volunteer-led community football.

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It also affords supporters who usually watch Premier League or EFL action the chance to go and watch their local non-league team.

Musical entertainment starts at 2pm at the Victory Stadium, ahead of one of two Wessex League games taking place on Portsea Island on Non-League Day - Baffins hosting Alton in the other.

US have invited the Lord Mayor or Portsmouth, Cllr Frank Jonas, while Pompey legend Ray Crawford should also be among the crowd.

With the club celebrating 60 years - either as Portsmouth Royal Navy or their current name - there is an invite for anyone previously involved in any capacity to come along as well.

Half the gate receipts will go to the Steve Bernard Foundation, a charity set up following the death of the former Christchurch player in a car accident in 2005.

‘It should be a good occasion,’ said Grice. ‘We all love football, and what better time to have a chat with like-minded people than on Non-League Day - and raise money for charity as well.’

Across the country, clubs are celebrating Non-League Day with a host of fan-friendly initiatives.

At Windsor, for example, fans wearing Reading, Wycombe, Brentford, Chelsea or QPR shirt - or showing a current season ticket - can get free entry.

To also coincide with Mothering Sunday, Chatham Town and Ramsgate are offering all mums a free glass of prosecco.

Winchester City are offering all fans free entry to their Southern League game with Mangotsfield.

Grantham Town are offering free entry to any under-16 grassroots player who turns up in their team shirt, plus free entry for one accompanying adult.

Some clubs, including Wessex Leaguers Fleet Spurs, have a ‘pay what you want’ admission policy on Saturday. Others, including Weston-super-Mare, are offering half-price entry for season ticket holders of all PL and EFL clubs.

Grice, meanwhile, wants to end his club’s debut step 5 campaign with a flourish.

‘Christchurch are safe from relegation now, which could make their mindset slightly different,’ he said. ‘But we won’t be taking them lightly - we want the three points.

‘I would like to get three wins from our last five games, though I know that’s a huge ask.’

US still have top eight pair Brockenhurst and AFC Portchester to play at home, while they travel to Blackfield & Bournemouth Poppies.