It’s been a tough few weeks and months for those at Worthing FC. Those who know me would probably agree Woodside Road is another footballing home for me and I take a good sized interest in the goings on and happenings around the club.
Being involved on the media side last season and for some of this season allowed me into a growing club and one trying to not live beyond it’s means. The contrast in the seasons is very much evident. After last season spending almost half the season bottom of the league and without a league win until November, to secure safety in the Bostik League Premier Division with four games to spare was nothing short of remarkable for Adam Hinshelwood and the squad he put together to achieve it.
Play-off form it very much was and winning games where maybe they shouldn’t had done, but credit where it was due had the season begun with Hinshelwood in charge the Mackerel Men might well have ended up close to promotion. Despite the poor start to the season and not being allowed to play at Woodside Road due to the on-going pitch issues, the support stayed firm and loyal on the terraces right through to the end.
This season, Hinshelwood did as much business as he could early in the summer and was bolstered by Lucas Covolan, Aarran Racine and Alfie Young all returning despite trying their luck at levels higher during pre-season. The setting up of the club’s academy is possibly just as crucial as getting the players you want to bolster a side that finished strong last season.
The Rebels set off like a train in August and by the end of October had lost only two games in all competitions, a far cry from last season. The standards Hinshelwood is setting for his players and of himself as well, he believed where not being met often enough despite winning games, a measure of where he thinks this club should be on the pitch.
Whilst November proved a good month, December and January have certainly been a little up and down for results, but maybe a reality check, not so much for those inside and who support the club, more for the neutrals and floaters. I think when the chairman, Pete Stone, said a few weeks ago, ‘We want to be competitive, but we can’t over-stretch ourselves’, it’s very sensible.
From where the club found itself last year to where they are this year is a massive, massive difference. The average gate is up and only 50 odd under 1000, tremendous support for Step 3 and can’t be undervalued. The squad was strengthened but has suffered badly from injuries throughout, on the plus side giving valuable minutes to those coming through the academy and Under 18’s.
With things not working out for some, Hinshelwood shipped out three and brought three in, another sign of keeping the budget true. And all the while the club is on the edge of the play-offs, which if they make it will mark a great achievement to turn things around so quickly from the relegation worries of last season.
There is a lot of work to do off the pitch to compliment what’s good on the pitch and that continues, it’s not a case of waving a magic wand nor can it happen overnight, but lay the right foundations and a club can prosper for years to come. Whether the Mackerel Men make the play off’s or not, win them or face another Bostik Premier Division season, they’re heading in the right direction and it would take a massive bump in the road to throw that off course.