Written by Connor Steel / Photograph courtesy of Gosport Borough FC
GOSPORT BOROUGH AND AFC Portchester will pay tribute to respective parted club legends in a pre-season cup starting this July, with a midweek double header scheduled to kickstart preparations for the 2021-22 campaign joining other events / celebrations that are yet to be confirmed.
The local derbies between the clubs will see them contest for the Ray Stainton and Steve Woods Memorial Cup, which is expected to be a regular feature of ‘pre-season’ preparations as a chance for fans to remember lost heroes, particularly as both tragic deaths occurred either side of the 2020-21 coronavirus lockdowns.
Gosport Borough will be remembering Ray Stainton, who was Chief Executive Officer at Privett Park under chairman and close friend Iain McInnes before his death aged 77 in early January 2020 after a short illness. He also worked as chairman of Portsmouth FC and helped form Havant & Waterlooville FC in his long non-league career.
Portchester are paying tribute to their former life president and chairman Steve Woods, whose death in January this year saw the Crest Finance Stadium become the centre of flowers and football souvenirs in memorial. The ‘legend’ had overseen developments at the club for over 30 years and received a MBE in 2011 for volunteering services.
The first game was originally due to be played at Gosport Borough on July 13, but has since been brought forward to July 10 with a 3pm kick-off time. The second encounter primarily scheduled for three days later on July 16 remains unchanged with a 7.45pm kick-off at Portchester FC’s Crest Finance Stadium. It is believed that both sets of spectators will be permitted as both sides begin their pre season warm-ups before the season starts in early August.
Many details are yet to be announced such as ticket prices and how the victors will be decided overall, with the idea of an ‘aggregate score’ or away goal rules being discussed. But regardless it promises to be a great double header for local bragging rights, with links between the two sides in both playing and managerial staff recently.
Portchester striker Lee Wort previously played for Gosport Borough during their successes in 2012-15, whilst the two clubs have also been managed by Mike Catlin over the last decade. Lee Molyneux has also featured for both teams as a player and coach, although he is now part of Baffins Milton Rovers’ managerial setup following a move in mid-May.
It will also be an exciting occasion for the younger players of both sides, with their U23s playing out a two-all draw in December after a four-nil win for Boro’ back in Autumn 2020 before the 2nd national lockdown begun in November. Many of these talents will likely feature as they attempt to push for a first team place for the season openers.
This new cup competition comes as Gosport Boro’ and AFC Portchester announced their provisional list of friendlies, with both sides hosting Lymington Town, who drew 0-0 at Privett Park last year and recently secured promotion to the Southern League. Fans are asked to visit their club’s social media pages for further updates on pre-season, as well as league fixture releases when announced next week.