The present club came into being in the summer of 1998
as the result of a merger between Wessex League AFC Lymington and Hampshire
League New Milton Town and so a history of the present club is
At the time it took place, the merger was (locally at least!) somewhat controversial, as the two clubs had existed totally independently for many years; with varying fortunes. This site is solely concerned with recording the efforts of the present club and so it is not the intention here to debate the merger issue, or to cover the history of the 'parent' clubs although some reference to those histories may be found on the following websites :
While the merger was being completed, Jewson, the
sponsors of both the Wessex and Eastern Leagues, decided to instigate what they
hoped would become an annual challenge match between the respective league
champions; for the Jewson Champions Shield. As AFC Lymington had taken the
Wessex league title the previous season, the newly formed Lymington & New
Milton FC were invited to participate in the first such match against the
Eastern League champions, Wroxham. The game was played at L&NM's Fawcetts
Field ground on 31st July 1998 and was duly won 3-1 by the home side. So, in
it's first competitive game, the newly merged club won it's first
This initial victory was followed by an highly successful first season in League and Cup competitions with the team achieving a seasonal record of P51, W37, D7, L8 in League, League Cup, F.A. Cup & F.A. Vase competitions. In the Jewson Wessex League the club eventually finished champions, nine points clear of runners-up Thatcham Town, while also enjoying an excellent run in the F.A. Vase, eventually reaching the quarter-finals before going out at Taunton Town. This cup success led to fixture congestion and in the final weeks of the campaign the club was forced to play 3 or more games a week to catch up, including reaching the final of the Wessex League Cup. Five straight wins in the last five games clinched the title although there was disappointment at not achieving a 'double' when the League Cup was lost on penalties to Cowes Sports in the final match of the season.
This on-field success was only marred by the fact that the club had not been able to make the necessary improvements to Fawcetts Field to bring it up to the standard required by the Southern League and so promotion to this higher level (one of the primary goals of the merger) was not achieved.
The club's second full season almost mirrored the first in terms of playing success and the eventual record of P56, W42, D9, L5 in League, League Cup, F.A. Cup and F.A. Vase suggests an even more successful outcome but it was not quite so. The season started well as the club successfully retained the Jewson Champions Shield, once again defeating Wroxham, but this time at their ground. More cup success led to the inevitable fixture congestion, this time with the F.A. Cup being the battleground, as the club reached the Fourth Qualifying Round before going out to Ryman League "big-shots" Aldershot Town, in front of over 1,500 spectators at Fawcetts Field. For the uninitiated, this is equivalent to a Premier League side reaching the Semi-finals; in terms of matches won.
Whether this had any effect on the league outcome, it is difficult to say. What can be said is that, despite being unbeaten in the last eighteen league matches, despite losing only two league matches all season and despite achieving 100 league points (13 more than in the previous season), only a runners-up spot was the final result. Crucial to the outcome was that the two defeats just mentioned were at the hands of Wimborne Town, the eventual champions. Further salt was rubbed into those wounds by losing to Wimborne in the final of the Wessex League Cup. However, in the midst of all this, the club did still find time to win the Russell Cotes Cup !
Again, at the necessary deadline, Fawcetts Field was not yet up to the Southern League standard that a championship followed by a runners-up spot should have given them. Happily, that situation was rectified in the post-season period. Could it be third time lucky ?
The answer to the question posed in the previous paragraph, written nearly ten months ago, was unfortunately no! But not for the reason we might have expected. A playing record of P51, W39, D6, L6 in League, League Cup, F.A. Cup and F.A. Vase competitions stands comparison with the previous two seasons and a total of 108 league points (the highest for the amalgamated club) was a tremendous result but we still only managed runners-up spot! Champions Andover swept all before them (except the Linnets, who took 4 out of six points from them) but never mind, we did manage to beat Wimborne this season!
All started well with the ground now up to scratch, and the team played its part winning the first ten games in a row. This success hid the fact that a team that had lost a significant number of first-team players, either through transfers or through injuries, was performing out of its skin to keep the wheels turning. A setback was inevitable and it came at Totton when the first league points were dropped. Then the rains came! Suddenly matches were getting postponed or abandoned part way through. The league momentum got bogged down in the mire and more points were unexpectedly dropped at home in monsoon conditions against Thatcham.
In previous seasons Cup success had caused fixture backlogs, but this time round it was fortunate if any sort of game could be played as the rain kept coming. The club had already bowed out of the F.A. Cup in a tight game against Ryman Leaguers Oxford City. There were hopes for another good F.A. Vase run but the wheels came off with a 3-4 home defeat against Stotfold from the United Counties League (and this after leading 3-1!). Graham Kemp later described this as the most frustrating result of the season. Just when it looked like the club might have a chance of revenge against previous season rivals Wimborne Town after being drawn together in the League Cup, the competition gets cancelled because of fixture congestion. We managed to retain the Russell Cotes Cup - but only because that competition also got cancelled!
It was not all gloom and doom. A stunning success against eventual DML Eastern champions Newport IoW in the Hants Senior Cup followed by a hard-earned victory against title-challengers Andover gave real cause for hope of silverware if the weather would only allow some catch-up to be made. It was never going to be that easy! In the midst of this mid-winter frustration came the bomb-shell that, irrespective of the outcome of the league race, the club would not be seeking promotion to the Southern League for financial reasons. Enough has already been written on this affair but for anyone interested in the unfolding saga go here. It soon became apparent that if the club was not going up, then manager Derek Binns was not likely to continue in his existing role. Hard on the heels of this came rumours about a possible merger with DML side and local neighbours Bashley.
Club skipper Graham Kemp was appointed as the manager-elect to take over from Binns at the end of the season but Binns unexpectedly stepped down at the end of March with Kemp becoming player-manager from that time. It later became clear that Binns was embroiled in the Bashley story and, as history now shows, has moved on to become Bashley manager following a complete financial and directorial make-over for the village club. Binns' decision may have come off the back of a series of drawn matches that left the Linnets effectively needing snookers if they were to overcome an Andover side that had been less hampered by the elements.
Kemp got off to a resounding start with a 5-0 victory against Christchurch in his first game in charge but the backlog was always likely to bite and 12 matches in the month of April proved just too much for a team buffeted by injuries, suspensions and off-the-field events. In the end, he and the team deserve great credit for keeping going, even when the cause was lost, to chalk up such a significant points total.
The dust has now settled. The club apparently still harbours ambitions for a Southern League place (but not at any price), the merger question is off the agenda and, encouragingly, virtually all the squad have signed for another go. Here's to another season!