Hassocks bring in Darren Budd to make a difference on and off the pitch

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Hassocks have completed their first signing of the summer with experienced midfielder Darren Budd joining the Robins as first team player-coach.

Budd finished last season as part of the Worthing coaching team installed in February following the departure of Adam Hinshelwood to York City.

Alongside interim manager Aarran Racine and former Brighton midfielder Dean Hammond, he helped take the Rebels into the National League South playoffs for the first time in their history.

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James Westlake said of his first summer signing: “We are delighted to have Buddy joining the management setup, as well as playing an important role on the pitch next season.”

Experienced midfielder Darren Budd has become Hassocks' first signing of the summerExperienced midfielder Darren Budd has become Hassocks' first signing of the summer
Experienced midfielder Darren Budd has become Hassocks' first signing of the summer

"Not only will it add great experience to our squad, but it will be an opportunity to learn and develop as a management team from someone who has coached successfully at a high level."

Budd was already a hugely popular figure at Woodside Road having enjoyed two previous spells as a player and one as a coach with the Rebels.

The second of those playing spells began when he became of one Hinshelwood’s first signings in October 2017. Budd was instantly installed as club captain, making such an impression as leader that Hinshelwood soon handed him a player-coach brief.

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Budd fulfilled that role until he left Worthing in the summer of 2023 due to work commitments having made over 150 appearances, scoring seven goals and winning both the Isthmian League Premier Division title and the Sussex Senior Cup with the Rebels.

He subsequently joined Burgess Hill Town as a player, a club Budd was very familiar with after captaining the Hillians to the Isthmian Division One South title in the 2014-15 season. Budd played 216 times for Hill in total.

As well as Worthing and Burgess Hill, Budd has turned out for Whitehawk, Bognor Regis Town, Eastbourne Borough and Horsham. Before that, he played youth team and reserve football for Brighton.

Whilst most of his career has been spent at step three and above, he turned out for Lancing in the 2021 Southern Combination Premier Division Supplementary Shield.

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Budd scored five goals in eight games to help the Lancers win the competition, beating Loxwood in the final.

Several current Hassocks players represented the Magpies that day, whilst Westlake was in the dugout as Loxwood assistant manager.