This time last year Worthing were not where they should have been pictured above. Pitch issues at the Bibby Financial Services Stadium meant away games and pitching up at rivals Bognor Regis to get the season underway. A poor start to the season left the Mackerel Men playing catch up, but the return of Adam Hinshelwood provided the spark for the side to click together with the help of a few additions and despite being in a relegation battle for most of the season, Worthing were safe with four games to spare having been adrift at the bottom of the table until the New Year.
Fast forward twelve months from those ill-fated first few months of last season and Worthing sit just inside the Bostik League Premier Division play-offs, having only just surrendered their unbeaten start at the weekend. A far cry from last season but what’s made the difference?
Arguably, Hinshelwood’s influence is massive. Having identified before the end of last season what was needed for this campaign, early summer signings helped steal a march on their rivals. Despite some frustration at having to wait to finalise his squad until closer to the season’s start, Hinshelwood was confident he had at his disposal a squad with depth and ability to not be sucked into the troubles at the wrong end of the table.
And so far it appears very much that way. Seven goals in eight games for one of the new signings, David Ajiboye, strong contributions from James Crane and with Will Miles and Ollie Pearce nearing full fitness after summer injuries plus the return of long term injured Rhyle Ovenden and Ross Edwards there is a squad capable of challenging at the top end of the table and to withstand successful cup runs.
But it’s not just happening on the pitch. Off the pitch, strides are being made to run the club for the level it wants to be, the National League South. Communication is key to getting a new message across. There is more presence across Twitter and Facebook, the club provide in-depth interviews with Hinshelwood across previews, reactions and video messages on their new club website and coverage for both the Ladies team and the Under 18’s.
A club shop has sprung up, another new step in providing a revenue into the club, players have sponsors, new companies have pitch side boards this season, all vital money to clubs outside the cash rich Premier League.
The introduction of the Academy should provide the club with its own talent as it becomes established, players featured quite heavily last season from the Under 18 side and more have been involved this time around showing that you don’t always have to look too far outside your area.
The support reaches levels some club can only dream of attracting. 905 was the figure for Saturday’s game with Margate, getting closer to the 1000+ chairman Pete Stone believes the club can attract and maintain. That level of support if sustained will show it can compete in the National League South and if the club can continue to grow and thrive as it currently is, the sky is the limit for a club moving far away from their troubles.