Horsham Football Club’s youth secretary Annie Raby has spoken of her deep sadness at the difficult decision to fold the club’s successful under-18 side.
The development side, which has been running for more than 20 years, has been withdrawn for the league.
The club were the only local side to offer Ryman League football at youth level but, due to the lack of a permanent home, have had to disband.
Raby has worked with the club’s youth section for more than ten years and has called on the council to support the Hornets’ plea for a home to help support the youth of the town.
She said: “After 11 years involved, travelling home and away as secretary for the Horsham under-18 side, the decision to not compete in the new season, I feel, is not only a great loss to the club but to the youth in Horsham.
“Some of the previous under-18 sides have played against players like Chris Smalling and Michail Antonio.
“The decision wasn’t taken lightly but over the years the ground-share has become untenable trying to get fixtures played through the season.
“We’ve had to call upon other clubs to help us as the criteria requires a midweek floodlit venue with an FA ground grading G or above which are few and far between in our area.”
The club has been without its own home since 2008 after leaving Queen Street and has had applications turned down at the Holbrook Club and Hop Oast.
Raby said: “Over the last few seasons we have been lucky enough to be able to ground share at Three Bridges, Broadbridge Heath and Horsham YMCA, but as years have past its been more difficult .
“It’s been fantastic to be involved with the under-18 side over the years and we’ve seen some great players who are still involved in football now; it is nice to see we helped them on their way.
“I will miss not only watching the lads develop through the seasons but the great atmosphere on match nights – we always attracted good support on the side lines, we’ve had some great times.
“I hope this is temporary and when Horsham FC go for planning permission on a new ground, Horsham District Council vote yes so we can put Horsham under-18s back on the map and give local players an opportunity to player at a good standard.”
The club are still running teams at under-11, under-12 and other age groups next season. They are currently looking for an under-ten and under-15 manager.
Raby added: “I must give a massive thank-you to everyone who has supported under-18 over the years and all the volunteers who have given their time to help.”
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