By Connor Steel
AFC TOTTON have confirmed that they have signed midfielder Mike Carter as preparations for the 2022-23 football season begin following a short summer break; ending the thirty year-old’s association with Gosport Borough after two highly successful spells at Privett Park over the last eight campaigns.
Carter’s move to the Stags was confirmed by his new club last Friday (May 20), with their new player due to feature heavily in the Southern League Division One next season; impressing during the Hampshire Senior Cup tie between AFC Totton and Gosport Borough in December 2021 before getting injured in the first half.
The latest move adds another Hampshire club to Carter’s footballing CV; having started non-league with Sholing back in 2014 as he helped the Boatmen win the Wessex League and FA Vase. The 5’11’ midfielder then signed for Gosport Borough later that summer; winning the Hampshire Senior Cup (2015) and Russell Coates Cup (2016) respectively under the long-term leadership of Alex Pike.
After two and a half seasons at Privett Park, Carter joined Havant & Waterlooville in January 2017; helping the Hawks secure successive promotions in eighteen months of longevity in which they won the Ryman Premier League (Isthmian Premier) 2016/17 title and further sealed the Conference South 12 months later.
In May 2019 it was announced that Carter had re-signed for Gosport under then manager Lee Molyneaux, who made him first team captain as he led them to solid positions in the Southern League table; only for the Covid-19 pandemic to render them null and void as non-league football ground to a halt.
Carter remained captain despite a manager change as Shaun Gale took over at Privett Park, repaying faith with good form and stability to key areas as he ascertained his place as a fan favourite. His leadership helped Gosport finish 9th in the table in the most recent 2021-22 campaign; despite injuries and a loan deal at local side AFC Portchester to boost match fitness back in October last year.
And he will need that leadership when entering a young Totton dressing room for pre-season; the Stags also signing his former Gosport Borough midfield partner Luke Hallett on loan and playmaker Ethan Jones this summer. This adds to midfielder Adam Tomasso who played alongside Carter when at Portchester last year.
Following news of his move to the Snows Stadium, Carter said: “It’s a really impressive set-up here, which makes a difference. The Club is obviously ambitious and moving in the right direction and I’m looking forward to being a part of it. With several talented young players in the squad, I’ll be looking to add my experience to the mix to help guide them in the right way and, hopefully, achieve positive results on the pitch.”
Totton manager Jimmy Ball also seemed delighted with the coup as he beamed: “Mike brings bags of experience to the team, he’s a natural leader. He’s a talented midfielder with all of the attributes I’m looking for, and he’ll bring real character and a level of toughness that we were lacking at times last season.”
Continuing the Stags boss added: “He and I haven’t worked together before but I’ve watched him closely and received nothing but good reports, so getting this deal across the line makes for a good start to our business this summer. And there will be more (club signings) to follow.”
Gosport Borough have wished their former player well in a short statement published on their website, whilst manager Gale added his own thoughts on the departure; saying he did ask the midfielder to stay at Privett Park: “I wish him all the best in his next chapter and he’s a great lad, Carts. It’s a shame. You don’t want to lose your better players or your captain; but that’s football and life goes on.”
The Borough boss further added: “We had a conversation and I asked him to stay but he felt he needed a new challenge in his career. He’s probably had a difficult two years in respect of injuries and I get it. He’s been a great servant. He’s worked under me when I was assistant at Havant and obviously at Gosport, too. He’s a great lad and I wish him all the best and thank him for all his services for us.”
PICTURED BY CRAIG HOBBS PHOTOGRAPHY: Carter poses in Totton shirt as he signs for new club.