Agutter is new boss at Worthing FC – Racine and Hammond also given roles as Hastings manager makes switch

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Worthing FC have appointed Chris Agutter as first team manager.

The 36-year-old joins the club from Sussex rivals Hastings United, who he led to their joint-highest league finish and the Sussex Transport Senior Cup final in the season just finished.

Aarran Racine – who has just led Worthing to the National South play-off final in a two-month spell as interim manager following Adam Hinshelwood’s departure – and Dean Hammond will assist Agutter. Hammond had also been part of Racine’s set-up at the end of the season.

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Agutter’s final game in charge of the Us came on Wednesday where he led his team out in the final at the Amex.

Chris Agutter is announced as the new manager of Worthing FC | Picture: Worthing FCChris Agutter is announced as the new manager of Worthing FC | Picture: Worthing FC
Chris Agutter is announced as the new manager of Worthing FC | Picture: Worthing FC

Worthing said Agutter’s appointment followed a thorough and extensive recruitment process in finding the club’s next permanent manager following Hinshelwood’s departure to York City in late February, with a focus on a candidate who can seamlessly adopt the club’s established footballing philosophy.

Chairman Barry Hunter said, “We received interest from a number of impressive candidates and ultimately the board were unanimous in Chris’ appointment - we’re delighted he’ll be joining us and are confident he’ll continue to push the club forward.

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“The decision was made easier having set out a clear list of specific and unconditional criteria as part of a thorough, objective, process”.

Aarran Racine remains on the staff, as Chris Agutter's assistant | Picture: Worthing FCAarran Racine remains on the staff, as Chris Agutter's assistant | Picture: Worthing FC
Aarran Racine remains on the staff, as Chris Agutter's assistant | Picture: Worthing FC

Worthing said their beliefs and commitment to playing a possession-based and attacking-minded brand of football played an important part in the decision to appoint Agutter.

Hunter added: "Continuity and momentum were also factors in our decision. The club is clearly on a steep trajectory, with a lot of opportunity and we have removed some glass ceilings. But our transition needs to be on our terms, running our race, at our pace, the Worthing way, remaining faithful to those principles and practices which are now core to how we operate, on and off the pitch.”

Alongside his first team responsibilities, Agutter will also oversee the Academy pathway, continuing the club’s long-standing commitment to developing young players.

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Football Director Nathan Bowen believes Agutter is the perfect fit for both roles, saying: "Chris embraces our football DNA with a dedication to possession-based, attack-minded football and has a proven commitment to the development of young local talent.

“He brings a fantastic blend of experience founded on Academy roles in professional environments but importantly has demonstrated a clear commitment to a managerial career in senior football, initially through non-league.

“He is an exceptional coach, a very capable man manager with high emotional intelligence and has built a very strong football network across the south of England.

“We have tracked Chris' progress and are very aware of his talent and strong reputation in the region. Chris is hungry to succeed and with Worthing Football Club he has the opportunity to apply his skills in a new environment, much in the same way Adam Hinshelwood did on his appointment".

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Agutter’s formative coaching years began in the Academy structure at Brighton and Hove Albion before joining Eastbourne Borough as Academy Manager in 2015, where he also assumed the role of First Team Assistant Manager.

His first spell at the Pilot Field began in January 2017 when he was appointed Academy Head of Coaching.

That summer, Hinshelwood was appointed Us boss but his tenure was shortlived as he returned to Woodside Road for a second spell as Rebels’ boss in October 2017 and Agutter began a four-year reign as manager of the East Sussex side that would have overseen promotion to the Isthmian premier division had it not been for the curtailment of the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opportunity to work in a professional environment came in November 2021 when he was offered the position of academy coach at League Two Stevenage.

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In his first few weeks at the club, Agutter was also thrust into the role of interim first team assistant manager following the departure of Alex Revell.

After 12 months at Stevenage, Agutter returned closer to home with another productive spell at the Albion Academy followed by a return to senior first team management at his former club – Hastings – in October last year, leading them from 14th when he took over to a 7th placed finish and an appearance in the Sussex Senior Cup final for the first time in 24 years.

He takes over from Hinshelwood who left the Reds’ hotseat with 11 games remaining of the current campaign when the club turned to former captain Aarran Racine to lead the team on an interim basis.

Racine’s first game in charge produced an impressive 1-0 victory at second-placed Chelmsford City and after a run of four games without a win, he galvanised the team to win the remaining six games of the season to see the club finish 3rd, the highest league finish in its history.

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A dramatic win over Maidstone United in the play-off semi-final set up a shot at promotion to the National League where the Reds were edged out in extra time by Braintree Town in front of a sell out crowd at the Sussex Transport Community Stadium.

Worthing added: “Following the end of his interim spell, we’re delighted to confirm that Racine will continue at the club in the role of Assistant Manager.

“Also joining Agutter’s management team will be Dean Hammond who also needs no introduction to supporters having been part of the coaching staff during Racine’s time as interim boss.”

Bowen added: "In Aarran and Dean, we have two highly capable professionals who have an intimate understanding of our footballing DNA and who did a first-class job as part of our Interim Management team. This is a very positive step for them into management and coaching roles and will form a key part of the club's talent investment strategy.”

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The news does of course mean Hastings are looking for their fourth manager in little over a year – with Agutter having replaced Paul Barnes in October – Barnes having taken over last summer after another ex-Worthing man, Gary Elphick, resigned at the end of last season. Elphick had been Hastings boss since Agutter left in 2021.

HJastings United said: “The club can confirm that we have agreed a compensation package with Worthing FC for our mens first team manager Chris Agutter.

“We would like to place on record our thanks to Chris for his work at the club in his short second spell as our manager and also to Worthing FC for the professional manner and courteous way they have conducted themselves throughout the process.

“Chris leaves with our best wishes and will always be welcome back at Pilot Field in the future.”

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