1 Keeping the squad together
Since returning as boss, Adam Hinshelwood has amassed a squad more than capable of competing at the higher end of step three. It is great he has got them all back together (bar Carl Rushworth, back to Brighton; and Fin Stevens, signed by Brentford) for another crack.
It shows the personality of Hinshelwood and the character of the squad that they wanted to stay put, especially considering there must have been offers. It was particularly satisfying to see Ollie Pearce back in training as fans of a certain rival, including a senior player, had been telling us he was off to pastures new.
2 The facilities
Over lockdown, the club asked the fans to dig deep and contribute to a crowdfunder. With the £43k target achieved, the club has since given the ground a massive upgrade. We have new toilets, a new food concession, updated changing rooms and the ability to segregate. Importantly, this means Woodside Road is ready for step two football.
3 Roco Rees and Brighton
Losing Carl Rushworth was a big blow. However, to know we can persuade the likes of Roco Rees to come back for a second stint fills me with confidence (particularly as he recently signed a four-year contract with Albion). Our reputation as a club that provides pathways and develops players is increasing.
I’d love to say that’s it, everything is great in the land of Worthing FC, however it is worth pointing out some areas of contemplation:
4 The pitch
The well-documented issues surrounding the sub-layer of the pitch at Woodside continue. It appears a final fix has been found but this involves playing early-season games away from home. Maybe not a bad thing with our away form? I have total confidence in chairman Barry Hunter and his team but, after the issues a few years ago and the exile to Bognor, it’s hard to be anything but concerned when it comes to the pitch.
5 The season
With the start of the new campaign here, I’ve seen no confirmation from the league as to what happens if we get into a similar situation as we did last term our season was made null and void where others played on and some went for points-per-game.
It’s really important to have these decisions made before a competitive ball is kicked but time is running out.
6 The opposition
Lots of teams in our league have kept their squads together and some have strengthened.
Horsham seem to have done very well with their signings, and as long as Dom Di Paola can get them to gel, they’ll be a force. Also, we’re no longer an unknown quantity. We went into last season as a 14/1 shot with the bookmakers, but definitely won’t be that this season!
The return of competitive football is exciting. I’m hopeful that, if we all continue to follow the guidelines, we can safely go and watch a brilliant season of Isthmian football. And, with a bit of luck... who knows...