We take a look at this year’s Hampshire Cup champions.
Eastleigh FC has enjoyed a prosperous campaign this season, securing their Conference South status for an eighth successive season, whilst overcoming AFC Totton to lift the Hampshire Senior Cup at St Marys Stadium.
Goals from Chris Flood and Mitchell Nelson helped the club lift the trophy for the first time in their history, and their first silverware since winning the Russell Cotes Cup seven years ago.
Eastleigh’s triumphs have raised their profile within England’s lower leagues, allowing them to sign players of the calibre of Jai Reason. The 22-year old former Ipswich midfielder has caught the eye of many teams following a season with Braintree Town in which he managed thirteen goals from midfield.
Spitfire boss Ian Baird said:”Jai’s arrival has been a long time coming as he was one of my main targets from day one – at 22 he is certainly one for the future as well as the here and now. Any player scoring 13 goals from midfield in the Blue Square Premier will be sought after.”
“He is exactly the caliber of player we are looking to attract. Next year’s squad will need plenty of legs and a mixture of young and experienced players will hold the key”.
Bird will be hoping his new signing will help fill the void left by top scorer Jamie Slabber, who transferred to Chelmsford City in March. The striker amassed 36 goals in his last two seasons for The Spitfires.
Eastleigh has an impressive ex-player list, with the likes of Brett Williams and Aaron Martin signing for Reading and Southampton respectively after impressing at non-league level. In the 2011/12 season the club also helped young players secure deals, with teenagers Will Aimso and Josh Helm signing contracts with Hull City and Swindon Town.
The side is also looking for hidden talent in the local community, and will be holding open trials for players on Wednesday 6th June 2012. These trials will give players the opportunity to be assessed by UEFA qualified coaching staff and give them the opportunity of representing Eastleigh FC.
Further exciting news for Eastleigh is that the club has ensured its long term financial future. Bridle Insurance Limited, best known for providing financial backing for Glen Hoddle’s prestigious football academies, bought out the club in February of this year, and they have big plans for the Hampshire Cup champions.
Part of Bridle’s five year plan is to get the ground up to league standard, by looking at financing a 7,500 all-seater stadium, and to get the club into the football league.
And the Hampshire club is keen to share their success with the fans by holding its first ever open day at the Silverlake Stadium on the 14th June.
The Open Day promises to be a great event with fans able to meet the full first team, see an open training session and have unlimited access to the stadium. There will also be an Eastleigh vs. Supporters penalty shoot out for the ‘prestigious’ Silverlake Trophy.