The hard work starts now according to manager Dominic Di Paola after Horsham’s Ryman League return was confirmed last week.
The Southern Combination League champions’ return to the South Division was rubber-stamped as the Football Association announced the make-up of the 2016-17 Non-League pyramid on Thursday.
The Hornets’ 42-year stay in the Ryman League ended in 2014 after a dismal season resulted in relegation, but they have bounced back within a year after a fantastic campaign.
Di Paola admitted he was personally relieved at the news after being denied the chance to take East Preston up due to ground grading issues after their title-winning 2013-14 season. He has already turned his attention to next season and will be talking to existing players in the next couple of weeks to start shaping his squad.
Di Paola said: “It’s good, it’s what we wanted and where we wanted to go, but all the hard work starts now.
“We are a little bit behind a few teams, but we have been busy this week sorting and finalising pre-seaon friendlies.
“Until you are definitely there (promoted), you do not know who to book friendlies with.
“We didn’t have any indication that we wouldn’t go up and I do not think the club had any concerns, it was only from a personal point of view after East Preston, so it was nice to see our name on the list.
“It’s a good league, Greenwich and Cray are going to be big spenders and Lewes are getting there with their squad already, travel wise it is not too bad either with those three coming in.”
Di Paola has again stressed he would like to keep the successful title-winning team together although has already seen Kevin Keehan confirm he will be leaving for Shoreham.
Di Paola said: “Probably in the next week or so we will have an idea on who will stay, but that won’t be announced until nearer the start of the season.
“A lot of them deserve a chance to do themselves justice at the next level. A lot have had lots of success in the County League, it might be a bit boring for them to keep winning it.
“There are a few I would like to see fulfil their potential. Charlie Farmer, Darren Boswell, Joe Shelley, there are lots of them, but it’s down to them.
“One positive for me is there is less travel, but it’s down to them and their personal circumstances. I would like to retain as many as possible and do not want to replace them.”
On new players, Di Paola added: “We won’t be shopping in the top bin or top market. We will go for what we normally do and I call waifs and strays.”
“People that have fallen out of love with football for a bit at another club and try and get them enjoying it again. We want people that will buy into what we do.”
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