'King of Dover Road' reaches another Moneyfields goal milestone, Havant teenager taking on reigning snooker world champion and memories to last a lifetime despite bitter FA Vase ending - looking back at some big sports moments for Portsmouth area clubs and individuals in 2021

The Christmas and new year period provides an opportunity for celebration and reflection - and Portsmouth area sports teams and individuals can certainly look back on some defining moments in 2021 with great admiration.

By Lewis Mason
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 12:50 pm
'King of Dover Road' Steve Hutchings heads home Moneyfields goal number 250 in the club's win over AFC Stoneham earlier this month. Picture: Keith Woodland (181221-478)
'King of Dover Road' Steve Hutchings heads home Moneyfields goal number 250 in the club's win over AFC Stoneham earlier this month. Picture: Keith Woodland (181221-478)

With club achievements such as US Portsmouth's incredible journey to the FA Vase semi-final or individual pieces of brilliance like Michael McKinson announcing himself on the big boxing stage in front of the Sky Sports cameras, there are numerous stories to savour from the past 12 months across The News’ patch.

So we've picked out 10 big moments for sports teams and individuals to be remembered in 2021:

Talisman Steve Hutchings reaches milestone Moneyfields goal tally

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Michael McKinson, right, is overcome with emotion after being declared the winner in his huge March bout with Chris Kongo. Picture: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

Renowned for being one of the most feared non-league strikers in the area, former AFC Bournemouth pro Steve Hutchings surpassed an incredible personal goal landmark earlier this month.

After dropping down to the Wessex League Premier Division with Moneyfields in August 2011, the striker has been scoring for fun ever since - gaining the appropriate nickname of ‘The King of Dover Road’.

It was the home league meeting with AFC Stoneham on December 18 when Hutchings ticked off another mighty impressive Moneys goal milestone, as his first half double made it 250 goals in 327 appearances for the Portsmouth-based side.

And having just turned 31, there is no telling just how many the talisman could rack up before he does finally call it a day..

Michael McKinson announces himself on boxing's grand stage

When McKinson stepped in the ring to face Chris Kongo in March, very few outside of his camp - or beyond the city - gave him a hope of victory.

Underdog with the bookmakers and those who claimed to know their stuff within boxing circles, the Pompey Problem did what he's been doing his whole professional career - overcoming the odds to land a unanimous decision live on Sky Sports in Gibraltar.

Up until that evening, the tricky southpaw welterweight, who collected Kongo's WBO Global title courtesy of the win, had been largely avoided domestically because of his awkward style.

Havant teenage snooker star Jamie Wilson faced off against reigning world snooker champion Mark Selby at the English Open in November. Picture: Matt Huart (WPBSA).

But now McKinson's name was out there and he stands with a pro undefeated record of 21-0 - but it could be forever be that March evening as the moment his career really took off.

US Portsmouth's remarkable FA Vase run

Although not the ending they wanted to such a fairytale run, Wessex League club US Portsmouth can take nothing but pride from a truly historic FA Vase adventure.

Beaten in a semi-final penalty shoot-out, against division-higher Hellenic League Premier Division Binfield, could not have been a more bitter end to their dream of a Wembley final.

Things are looking a lot brighter for US Portsmouth Rugby after their return to competitive action in September. Picture: Neil Marshall

But as the gloom lifted following the gut-wrenching May defeat, the club could look back with nothing but admiration with six wins over higher tier opposition in the eight rounds they played in.

Most of the playing and management group from that run joined Moneyfields as soon as the season was over. Yet the 2021 achievements of those connected with the club during that FA Vase adventure will never be tarnished.

Hampshire’s amazing run chase against Glamorgan

Hampshire produced one of county cricket’s most astonishing run chases to advance to the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast.

The Hawks sat bottom of the South Group after nine games of a 14-match qualifying campaign. But they reeled off five straight wins and saw results work in their favour following a remarkable six-wicket victory over Glamorgan at The Ageas Bowl.

James Vince's side needed to score 185 runs in just 14.1 overs to leapfrog Surrey by virtue of a superior run rate. However, they reached their target in just 13 overs

Former Portsmouth Grammar School pupil Charlie Dean has enjoyed a remarkable start to life as an England international this year. Picture: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

They were given a storming start as openers D’Arcy Short (69) and Vince (39) blasted their way to an opening stand of 101 off just 44 balls.

Joe Weatherley then smashed an unbeaten 43 off just 13 deliveries with four fours and three sixes before Hampshire’s progress was confirmed later that day when Gloucestershire lost their last game.

Following a two-run victory at North Group winners Notts, Hampshire reached their eighth Finals Day - losing to Somerset in the semi-finals.

Jamie Wilson's world champion challenge

Facing the reigning world champion in your sport is sure to be a daunting experience for any individual. So imagine how teenage Havant potter Jamie Wilson felt when he pitted his wits against current snooker supremo Mark Selby in November.

In his second year on the professional tour, the 18-year-old at least could draw on sharing the table with one of the all-time greats, Ronnie O'Sullivan, in his first season as a pro.

Wilson eventually succumbed to Selby in his English Open first round meeting last month.

But he certainly wasn't disgraced, going down 4-1 in the best of seven frame battle while missing chances to bring the overall scoreline even closer.

US Portsmouth Rugby make welcome playing return

It was the September afternoon which marked the resurrection of US Portsmouth RFC as a competitive playing force.

To be precise, it was September 18, 2021 when USP were officially back, recording a 31-24 home victory over Romsey in Hampshire 1.

It marked a welcome revival after the club were forced to pull out of the London 3 South West just 22 months previous - in November 2019 - having failed to raise a team for three successive league matches.

Certainly, the prolonged absence provided a bleak period for a club steeped in rich rugby history.

Dwindling playing numbers and the extended absence of competitive rugby left great uncertainty surrounding the future of the Burnaby Road outfit.

So how satisfying it was to see US Portsmouth, albeit two divisions below the London 3 South West level of their previous competitive outing, back out on the field and winning a match again.

Charlie Dean makes superb start to England career

The former Portsmouth Grammar School pupil, who only turned 21 three days before Christmas, enjoyed a stunning 2021.

Selected for her senior England debut in September’s ODI series at home to New Zealand, the off-spinner took 10 wickets at 19.20 in five matches - including 4-36 on only her second appearance.

Dean’s form for the Southern Vipers in the 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint group stage - 10 wickets in her first four games - had helped win her an England call. And just before Christmas came news that she had been named in the squad for her country’s upcoming multi-format tour of Australia.

Olympic hopes alternate professional route

Long touted as a potential future Olympic champion, Ebonie Jones regained her boxing focus to embark on becoming a big name on the professional boxing scene.

The former Heart of Portsmouth shining light briefly gave up on the sport completely because of her continued struggles to make weight in order to compete in one of the Olympic women's weight categories.

Yet as one door closed another eventually opened for the highly rated prospect.

And after a prolonged period out of the ring and virtual complete boxing inactivity, the Stamshaw-based fighter signed with promoter BOXXER before making her pro bow with victory over Lithuania's Vaida Masiokaite at Wembley Arena in October.

James Vince’s maiden senior England century

In his 50th innings for his country across three formats, James Vince finally celebrated his maiden England century.

The Hampshire skipper struck 102 off 95 balls to help England pass Pakistan’s 331-9 (Babar Azam 158) total with three wickets and two overs in hand.

Vince ensured England completed a 3-0 series clean sweep by adding 129 for the sixth wicket with Somerset’s Luke Gregory (77).

Vince had been handed an unexpected return to the international fold in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak that ruled out England's entire original squad, grasping the opportunity with both hands

Absence makes parkrun more appreciated

Following an extended pandemic-enforced absence which spanned some 16 months, parkrun made a welcome return in the UK in July.

With mass numbers attending events up and down the country on a weekly basis, the safe return of the 5k runs was pushed back time and again.

It was March 14 2020, just as the Covid-19 outbreak took a severe hold in England, when the shutters were brought down on all parkrun activity in the UK.

There were false restart dates along the way but, finally, The News patch parkruns in Havant, Lee-on-the-Solent, Fareham, Portsmouth Lakeside and Southsea, as well as across England, were back from July 24 of this year.

Whiteley was forced to wait a little longer to return while a new event team was assembled, although they returned to weekly 5ks in the autumn.

Portsmouth's Ebonie Jones holds her arms aloft after her professional debut victory over Vaida Masiokaite in October. Picture: James Chance/Getty Images
Hampshire's James Vince raises his bat after smashing a maiden England century against Pakistan at Edgbaston in July
Popular parkrun events across the Portsmouth area and beyond returned following a prolonged 16-month absent in July. Picture: Neil Marshall