ONE OF THE GOALS OF THE SEASON at the Snows Stadium so far this term was a 22-yard dipping volley struck past goalkeeper Lewis Noice, shortly before the half-time break in the Boxing Day encounter with New Forest rivals Lymington Town.
From a position to the left of the Totton D, the dropping ball was struck on the full and on the turn by the right foot of centre-forward Mitchell-Carlton Speechley-Price, who arced it into the top corner to register – on his Lymington Town debut, no less – the first of his six Southern League Div.1 South goals that have helped to transform Lymo’s seemingly doom-laden 2022/23 campaign to give them a realistic chance of Step 4 survival.
Now, the man with the multisyllabic moniker has made the switch to AFC Totton to add his considerable presence to the attacking options available to manager Jimmy Ball, whose team are hot on the trail of top spot in the league table for the first time under his management, ahead of an end of season run-in from which The Stags hope to emerge with titles, silverware and a guarantee of Step 3 football next term.
Speechley-Price has represented both Lymington Town and Wessex League Premier Division outfit Brockenhurst on a dual-registration deal this season, having enjoyed a previous spell at Grigg Lane before a stint with Alresford Town. Early in the 2018/19 season, he joined the Blackfield & Langley side – featuring several AFC Totton players of the recent past and present – that went on to claim the Southern League Div.1 South title under Glen Howes and James Wood.
Last season, together with another Stags forward, Silvano Obeng, he was part of the Brockenhurst team that lifted the Russell-Cotes Cup for the first time in the club’s history. The Final at their own Grigg Lane ground against Hamble Club ended in a 4-4 draw, leading to a penalty shoot-out. Having already scored from the spot during the 90 minutes, Speechley-Price then set the tone for his teammates by taking and converting the first of his team’s five penalty kicks, to send The Badgers on their way to taking the trophy with a 5-3 shoot-out victory over The Monks.
The 25-year-old grew up in Lymington and attended Priestlands School in Pennington, where other notable alumni include the ex-Southampton and Everton striker Paul Rideout, and Welsh international centre-forward Sam Vokes, who began his career with AFC Bournemouth and with whom Mitchell is good friends. Another former Cherries front man Josh McQuoid, the musician and DJ Adamski, and the South African-born internet celebrity Belle Delphine are all fellow former Priestlands pupils, too.
Mitchell’s older brother Leighton has also played non-league football locally, most notably for Poole Town, Bashley and, briefly, for AFC Totton while he was still a teenager. He is now in Australia managing the Queensland-based Broadbeach United Soccer Club, having taken on the role at the beginning of December after the team had already been crowned Champions of Football Queensland Premier League 3 – South Coast, to earn promotion to FQPL2. Prior to his appointment by The Dolphins, Leighton coached for six years at Tecumseh Soccer Club in Ontario, Canada.
Mitchell spent 3 months in Canada last summer, and his older brother put him to good use by putting him in the team for 10 games in which he scored a record 19 goals. He was then offered the chance to play for the former Southampton and Celtic striker Scott McDonald’s Gold Coast Knights, who are also based in Queensland.
“I did think about it for a while but in the end, I decided to continue playing here. The fitness levels in Australia are probably higher than in the English non-league, and the game is very competitive. But in terms of technical ability, you can see the influence of players and coaches who have worked in the professional game even at this level.”
EAGER TO GET STARTED: Mitchell-Carlton Speechley-Price (or MCSP, if you prefer) will be hoping to make his Stags debut against Larkhall Athletic on Saturday.
The boys’ parents were an integral part of a consortium that helped to save AFC Totton from bankruptcy during a troubled period in the club’s history around eight years ago, and now Mitchell aims to play his part in firing The Stags to a new and brighter future climbing up the English Football League Pyramid.
“The immediate aim is to win the league this season – that was made clear to me during my discussions with Jimmy and Paul, and the senior figures within the club, and I’m totally onboard with that. From the situation we are in and the quality of the players here, it’s up to us to get the job done. Then, I think we should go on to the Southern Premier and not just challenge for promotion, but make a solid bid for back-to-back titles to keep taking the club forward.”
AFC Totton boss Jimmy Ball welcomed his new signing:
“Mitchell is an absolute handful up front; he’s fit and brings lots of energy, as well as a keen eye for goal. He’ll make an important difference for us as we move into the last stage of the season with the matches coming Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday. He’s a player I’ve known about for a while – Scott McDonald in Australia asked me about him last year – and he scored a cracking goal against us for Lymington on Boxing Day.
“Scott Rendell has done really well for us all season and now the arrival of Mitchell will give us the option to rotate or to mix things up a little, so we can mitigate against the possibility of injury or fatigue derailing things for us towards the end of the campaign.”
Mitchell attended The Stags’ successful Southampton Senior Cup Semi-Final against Hamble Club at Sholing last Thursday night, and he was also a non-playing member of the travelling party that won at Slimbridge AFC on Saturday. He might have made his AFC Totton debut at Melksham Town on Tuesday night but the match was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Oakfield Stadium. He will have to wait until the visit of Larkhall Athletic on Saturday to re-introduce himself to the AFC Totton faithful – hopefully by scoring a goal in our favour, this time!
By Ben Rochey-Adams
Image courtesy of Craig Hobbs Photography