Summer of few Hornets changes suits the boss

Continuity is the key at Horsham FC as Dom Di Paola starts to plot another steady season for the Hornets in the Isthmian premier division.

Horsham manager Dom Di Paola has welcomed a new assistant manager, Ross Standen
Horsham manager Dom Di Paola has welcomed a new assistant manager, Ross Standen

The manager says he is confident a change of assistant manager will not upset the applecart – and he is hopeful most of last season’s squad will be back for another season at the Camping World Community Stadium.

Horsham had an excellent first season back at step three of the non-league game and were sixth, just five points off a play-off spot and with a game in hand, when football was halted by the coronavirus outbreak in mid-March.

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Di Paola was pragmatic about the need to write off the rest of the season with no attempts to resume fixtures and give the likes of his team the chance to go up via the play-offs. Instead he is looking forward to another Isthmian premier campaign surrounded by most of those who helped the cause in 2019-20.

The big change is the departure of Di Paola’s assistant Adam Westwood, who has left and has been replaced in the No2 role by Ross Standen.

Di Paola said: “Wezzo leaving wasn’t a surprise. He was great for us but wanted to do his own thing and wanted a bit of a break.

“He has played for me in the past and been my assistant manager here for the past three years, that after two as first team coach.

“He’d been talking about leaving since around December but I hope he might change his mind, especially when the season finished early. But being assistant manager is a big commitment and at times a thankless task and his mind was made up.

“We spoke to a couple of people, including Ross, about coming in and it might have been that we got both in. But as it turned out we go Ross to agree to come in as assistant manager. He’s someone who will fit in really well at the club and be an asset.

“Because that’s the only change in the management team I think that gives us good continuity.”

Di Paola is also hoping for little change in the make-up of his squad.

Three players - midfielder Alex Kelly, full-back Harry Mills, and loanee forward Greg Cundle - have all moved on and Di Paola said they would need replacing. But he hopes most of the squad will stay, and that he can make a few additions.

“I’m biding my time but we’ve had some positive talks with players. I always think footballers are better off sorting themselves out early in terms of what they’re doing next season so they have time to focus on where they’ll be.

“By around the end of June I’d like the squad to be pretty well sorted, so we know who we’re working with. We’ve got a good group of lads who give their all for the club and most of them have now played 100 or 150 games for us and been with us since we were in Ryman south.

“We’ll need to strengthen but I want to give all the boys a chance to do well again next season.”

Next week: Di Paola on the big challenge facing Horsham in the new season