Tuesday 27th September 2016 ko 19.45
Wessex League Division One
NEW MILTON TOWN 0
BAFFINS MILTON ROVERS 4 (Dart 28 87 Pennery 49 Blandford 66og)
You occasionally hear the term “Derby in name only” and it normally refers to a fixture where two clubs are nearby but no great rivalry exists, Oxford United and Oxford City being a good example. This though was a derby genuinely in name only, Baffins play in northern Portsmouth while Town play to the east of Bournemouth at the southern edge of the New Forest.
To make life more interesting, New Milton are the result of a 1998 merger of New Milton Town, and AFC Lymington in a classic case of one side having the team, and the other (New Milton) having the ground. The result was Lymington & New Milton Town, a Wessex League winning side made up almost exclusively of former Lymington players, with promotion suprisingly to the Isthmian League being achieved in 2005. The club moved sideways to the more logical Southern League in 2006, and a year later the club’s name reverted to New Milton Town.
Meanwhile back in Lymington, there’d been plenty who’d opposed the merger and 8 mile move, so in 1998 Lymington Town were revived and the new club moved into the Lymington Sports Field, and despite that venue’s limitations they were promoted back to the Wessex League in 2004, and currently play in the Wessex League’s Premier Division.
Back at Fawcett’s Field, New Milton, the club hit trouble. In June 2007 the club’s finances were sufficiently bad for the the board and club management to resign en masse. They were forced to resign from the Southern League, and struggled in the Wessex Premier, being relegated again in 2013.
They continue to struggle and sensibly they’ve restructured again to put youth at the centre of their strategy going forward. The issue they have is clearly lack of interest locally, even for Step 6 an attendance of 28 is shocking especially taking into an account the excellent facilties.
On the pitch Baffins won this one as easily as the scoreline would suggest. Their cause wasn’t helped by goalkeeper Kieran Burgess air-kicking a backpass from Russell Blandford then missing Callum Dart’s cross near the end.
The flip-side was that Baffins are clearly going places, they’ve carried out massive improvement works since my visit, but their success carries a ominous caveat for New Milton Town. Last season Baffins played in the Hampshire League, a league that New Milton Town played in pre-merger. The club are friendly and the ground is excellent, but the trapdoor is open.