ONE of Hampshire’s oldest football clubs, Colden Common, are in crisis.
The club, first established in 1898 and re-formed in 1956, have lost their entire first-team squad with the new Hampshire Premier League season just days away.
The Commoners have reluctantly pulled out of the Wyvern Combination League and will field their reserve side in the HPL, kicking off away at Hamble Club next Tuesday (August 5, 6.30pm).
To cap it all, they have been advised that they can no longer play HPL fixtures at their Main Road home because it fails to meet FA ground grading requirements.
They will now play some 200 yards along the road at the Lottery-funded facility at Boyes Lane.
Common have a proud history, having won six league titles since the 1990s, including back- to-back HPL crowns in 2009 and 2010. Their most famous ‘son’ is England international Steve Guppy, pictured below, who went on to play for Wycombe Wanderers, Leicester City and Celtic.
Distraught chairman Dave Hadfield admits he has never felt so low having been connected with the club on and off for 38 years.
He cites the change of ground, combined with the closure of The Black Horse pub opposite Main Road, as the major reasons behind the mass exodus of players, the bulk of whom have gone to AFC Stoneham, Alresford Town or Winchester Castle.
He explained: “Mick King, the landlord of The Black Horse, our home for many years, died about a month ago. He’s an ex-chairman of the club and someone who has always been there.
“Before his death, Mick had already taken the decision to close The Black Horse and it no longer exists as a public house.
“On top of that, the FA have deemed that Main Road can no longer be used for HPL fixtures.
It’s nothing to do with the pitch, the changing rooms are not big enough and teams don’t have separate shower facilities.
“Our players always enjoyed playing at Main Road and switching the pitch has done nothing to help us.”
To maintain consistency, reserve team boss Curtis Osborne will continue to run the side in the HPL, supported by under-18 manager Dan Martin.
Dave Wood, last term’s manager, and his right-hand man Steve Blackburn will stay involved with the club but not as first-team managers.
“We’ve still got vets, under- 16s and under-18s, but we’ll be fielding just one senior side this season and I must admit I’m concerned about the quality and numbers we’ve got available to compete in the HPL Premier,”
“No matter what happens now it’s going to be a struggle, but I’ve got to believe that it’s peaks and troughs and we’ll bounce back.”
Common urgently need new players to take on the challenge of HPL football. The club train Tuesdays and Thursdays at Main Road (7-8.30pm).
Contact numbers for club officials are available on the club’s website: http://coldencommonfc.-squares-pace.com/