HORSHAM fans may still be dreaming of a home to call their own, but they could still witness their side make history by playing in the first competitive game at Brighton & Hove’s plush new ground at Falmer.
This week came the announcement that the final of this year’s Sussex Senior Cup would serve as a the first trial run at the Seagulls’ magnificent new stadium The Amex, currently undergoing final construction.
It means The Hornets are just two wins away from walking out onto the freshly laid turf at Falmer, possibly even ahead of hosts Brighton who are still in the competition, for a match which should attract up to 10,000 people.
Horsham travel to Ryman South Burgess Hill in the quarter final on February 22. And Although Hornets manager John Maggs believes it gives every club left in the competition an added incentive to make the final, with his side desperately short of form he is reluctant to look too far ahead.
He said: “If we are fortunate enough to win two games, which is what we need to get to the final, it will be a marvellous event for the club and the supporters.
“I mean it’ll go down in history as the first game in the new stadium so it opens up a great incentive to get there but we have got two games to win to get there.”
The Sussex FA and Brighton had been in lengthy discussions about the date of the final, set on Saturday July 16, two months after the usual final date and some time after the end of the football season, but after member clubs voted in favour the announcement was made on Tuesday.
But Maggs warned: “The problem is you might have a team whose won their way to the final but because, as always some of the players move on, it might not be the team who has won their way through to the final who goes and plays there, it might be a completely different side.
“A lot of people find that’s not right but all we can do is get on with it.”
Along with Horsham’s meeting with Hillians at Leylands Park the only other quarter final as yet decided is an all County League one, with Crawley Down taking on East Grinstead Town.
Blue Square Premier Eastbourne Borough are still in the competition and host County League Rustington in the last 16, while Lewes are already through to the quarter finals, where they await the winners of Sidley Utd and Brighton. Worthing versus Rye Utd on February 2 makes up the final last 16 game.
Horsham last won the Sussex Senior Cup back in 1976 and the last time they made the final was in 2006 when they lost to Lewes 3-1 after extra-time.
One Horsham stalwart with fond memories of the competition is life president Frank King. He said: “As far as I’m concerned the Sussex Senior Cup is our FA Cup. Although some clubs don’t treat it like that but I think if we could play at Falmer and make that the final each year it will bring back the prestige of the cup and Falmer’s going to be a fabulous stadium.
“The only thing I do query is that it’s got to be July 16 because I don’t think we’ll have the same team.”
The move to play the final at Falmer suits Brighton as it will allow them to gain the required safety certificate ahead of the 2011/12 season when they will move into their new 22,500 seater home, although the final will be limited to a crowd of 10,000.
Meanwhile boss Maggs has rounded on criticism of his refusal to play the club’s youngsters. Youth teamers such as Tony Nwachukwu have failed to make a permanent mark on the side, and although there are repeated calls from fans to throw young players in, Maggs has resisted.
“It’s disapppointing for them,” he said. “I’m not going to lay into them but when people keep passing comments that they (young players) are not getting enough chances, well, they have to be really really good players to hold a place in the Ryman, and we have not come up with one since Gary Charman unfortunately.
“They have been given more chance by me than at any other Ryman League club, football is hard.”