TOTTON & Eling will do everything in their power to stave off relegation from the Sydenhams Premier Division.
But co-boss Stuart Hussey can’t help thinking it would be in the club’s best interests to go down, rebuild in Division One and hopefully come back stronger as the likes of Folland Sports and Brockenhurst have done.
Having given themselves a fighting chance of survival with back-to-back wins over Downton and Brock last month, the Millers’ results are on the wane again.
Tuesday’s 2-1 home defeat by fellow strugglers Romsey was the fourth league reverse on the spin for the fourth-to-bottom club, prompting Hussey to admit: “This would have been the game to take us out of the relegation battle, but we’re 100 per cent in it now.”
With a trip to title favourites Sholing next up, their troubles may well have increased by 4.45pm tomorrow. And even though Hussey has pledged his team will “battle and fight and give everything to stay up”, he can’t help but conclude that the Millers are currently ill-equipped to be a Wessex top-flight club.
After working hard to rebuild the side last summer, Hussey and brother/co-manager Matt suffered the double whammy of a losing players through injury and general disinterest.
That, combined with all the comings and goings off the field, no bar facility at Millers Park and a dire lack of help behind the scenes, leaves the Millers facing a day-to-day battle just to survive.
“With the greatest of respect, the era of the club being a nucleus of mates all playing together has gone and we’re now in exactly the same boat as (fellow strugglers) Romsey, Downton and Fawley – except they’ve got something we haven’t with lots of people helping off the pitch,” said Hussey.
“We’ve got (director of football) Andy Tipp, (chairman) Angus Steel and (secretary) Chas Wood, but that’s it and, whereas the other clubs seem to be bringing players in, we’re struggling.”
From a squad of around 15, T&E currently have four players – Dan Smith, Lee Thorne, Joey Herbert and Luciano Ramos – fighting hamstring injuries, while the experienced Ben Thompson has calf trouble.
“Given all that’s happened, I said finishing third to bottom would be a good season for us, but from a financial and regrouping aspect, I can’t help thinking the club would do better going down,” said Hussey.
“That way they could concentrate on trying to get a bar in place, getting more people involved and bringing young players through, without having to worry about the financial cost of playing every Saturday and Tuesday.
“It’s no coincidence that Brock and Follands have come back ten times stronger after being relegated.
“If we stay up I don’t see how it will change or how the club can go through another season like this.
“I will be here 100 per cent until the end of this season. Beyond that, it depends which way the club goes and if we’re all singing off the same hymn sheet. “If I thought it was going to be like this again, I wouldn’t do it.”
*More on this story – and all the latest news from the regional non-League scene – in the weekend’s Pink.