Overton United 3 Winchester Castle 1
Where: Overton Recreation Centre, Bridge Street, Overton, Hampshire RG25 3HD
Hampshire Premier Football League Senior Division
Overview: This was a Step 7 fixture at a floodlit venue. Floodlights are compulsory only in the Non-League Pyramid from Step 6 upwards so fixtures under lights at Step 7 and below are rare. Also, match programmes are compulsory only at Step 6 and above. But, as a groundhopper and programme collector, I was attracted by the fact that Overton United publish a monthly club newsletter with hard copies readily available. The village of Overton itself is a picturesque setting near Basingstoke with quaint shops, narrow lanes and a population of just 4,315.
History: Different sources give Overton United’s year of formation as 1913 and 1932. The club started life in local Basingstoke leagues before joining the original Hampshire League in 1970. After a brief spell of three years in the lower echelons of the Wessex League, the club became founder members of the Hampshire Premier League in 2007 and have remained in that league ever since.
Ground description: The focal point is a well-appointed club building with a community hall and dressing rooms downstairs, plus a cosy bar area upstairs from which it is possible to watch the match. There is a cricket square on the far side of the football pitch so it would be difficult for Overton United to install the hard standing and pitch rails required for promotion to Step 6 of the Non-League Pyramid. The football club also has use of two other pitches nearby for its youth teams.
Programme details: The magnificent ‘TOUCHLINE’ newsletter has been published on a monthly basis since July 1970 and has now reached issue number 474. It contains four A4 pages of club news about Overton United and Overton Youth Football Club. There are photos, fixtures, league tables and fund raising details. The newsletter is distributed throughout the village free of charge to give the football club a big presence locally. I was able to obtain a copy at the Indian restaurant where I had my pre-match meal and copies are also available on matchdays in the doorway to the dressing rooms and up in the club bar. Many other football clubs around the country could learn from Overton United’s fantastic initiative in publishing this newsletter and delivering it around the nearby area.
The match: Overton won comfortably on the night with goals by Louie Chambers, Ben Dillon and Lucas Pickett. The marksman for Winchester Castle was Will Delve-Thompson.
The people: Overton United chairman Gary Savory was happy to chat about the club’s hopes and aspirations. He said the expense of improving their facilities to meet the requirements for promotion to Step 6 was prohibitive so Overton would continue in the Hampshire Premier League for the foreseeable future.
Tony Incenzo is a reporter for talkSPORT Radio and Sky TV. You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo