Fleetlands begin new manager search

By Connor Steel / Photograph by Chris Moorhouse

HAMPSHIRE Premier League side Fleetlands FC are looking for a new manager following the resignation of Rich Bessey, who quit Lederle Lane over the weekend citing the stress of amateur football.

This includes player signings and availabilities due to other commitments, which the former boss stated was affecting his relationship with family and friends as it began to take its toll.

Bessey became manager at Fleetlands in summer 2019 having led Liss Athletic and Paulsgrove through the lower leagues of Hampshire Premier League football, falling short of the Wessex League due to a lack of facilities including stadiums and indeed players. In his time in charge he has won 29 games from 46 league matches with a 63 percent win rate, which joins nine draws and losing just eight across the three seasons.

Unfortunately none of these campaigns have finished or been completed with Fleetlands sitting fourth in the Hampshire Premier League in March 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic. The Coptermen also saw a brilliant start to the 2020-21 season as they lost one in 12 and sat second in the table, before another early cancellation of football action due to lockdown restrictions. In this current campaign the club sit fourth in the division at this early stage and still remain in the Portsmouth Senior Cup following an impressive victory last weekend.

It means the search for the new manager is officially under way as chairman Ian Sellstrom told the Portsmouth News that he has 16 names on his shortlist so far, which includes previous and current applicants for the exciting role. But it will be a job that not only features the first team side with the appointment expected to encourage the community feel and ‘one-club’ ethos. The ideal boss would be a long-term manager who secured Fleetlands’ promotion to the Wessex League Division One for the 2022-23 season.

Although the initial deadline for applications is scheduled for the end of this week, it is believed that the new manager will be in place for Fleetlands’ match on October 30. However it is a timeframe likely to change if needed, with the club chairman refusing to be drawn on the schedule as he looks to make the right decision. Any interested parties should contact the chairman either by phoning 07715 663 871 or emailing chair.fleetlandsfc@gmail.com.

But Mr Sellstrom did thank Bassey for his services to the club in an official statement on the team’s social media platforms: “Fleetlands Football Club would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Rich Bessey for his contribution to the club over the last couple of years. Rich progressed the club on the field and baring the Covid epidemic our status in the football pyramid could have been differen.

“However many will not have seen the great efforts Rich put into the club off field activities. He was proactive in bringing in financial support and thought nothing of rolling up his sleeve to help in the upkeep of the facilities. He was so much more than just our manager. Rich will always have a home here as he has become a real part of this club and we believe the club has a place in his heart. He is a Copterman.”

Fleetlands’ next league game in the Hampshire Premier will see them visit Moneyfields Reserves on Wednesday evening before travelling to Hayling Island this weekend. Two home games at Lederle Lane include Chamberlayne Athletic (30/10/2021) and Clanfield in early November as the Coptermen look to build upon a solid start to the campaign.