NOW IS the time for Horsham’s young starlets to stand up and show just how good they are.
That is the message from Gary Charman following his exit from the club.
The 30 year old became the latest in a host of senior players to quit the Hornets when he signed terms with Eastbourne Borough at the end of last week, bringing to an end a 14 year stay at the club he supported as a boy.
Since Charman’s exit Steve Davies is believed to have joined Worthing, where he will team up with former Hornets Alan Mansfield and Jamie Brotherton, while Mark Knee has also left for Whitehawk.
Ben Andrews and Anthony Storey have already joined Tonbridge Angels and Jamie Cade is also thought to have departed, and with a playing budget slashed to expenses new boss Justin Luchford has already signalled a new direction towards youth.
As the only player in recent history to emerge through the youth ranks and establish himself in the first team, Charman is best placed to assess the current young crop, and believes the ability is there.
“The young players have to step up now, it’s not kid’s football any more, this is the Ryman Premier,” said Charman, who passed the 500 appearance mark last season.
“People Like Tony (Nwachukwu) and Adam Hutchings (recently brought back from County League Loxwood), who are really good footballers, have to show they are good enough to play week-in, week-out at this level. They are not 16/17 any more, they are early 20s and now is the time when they have to step up their level and start bossing games.”
“(Former boss) John Maggs got a lot of criticism for not bringing enough youngsters up into the first team but the lads have to help themselves out. I was in their situation and I had to work hard in training, do my time in the reserves and take the chances.”
Charman believes the Ryman Premier has never been tougher adding that the whole team would have to give 100 per cent to ensure success.
The player has been a firm favourite amongst the Horsham fans ever since breaking into the first team more than a decade ago. Best known for his creativity, the forward endeared himself even further into supporter’s hearts by coming back from a horrific facial injury to put in some outstanding displays last season, often as a makeshift centre half.
“The main reason (I’ve left) is to play at a higher level,” he said. “Eastbourne have come in, they are a league above, are a very well run side and have excellent players and they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I’m 30 now so don’t have that many years left.
“I’m very sad to have left Horsham but it’s a new challenge. I have loved every minute of my time but I felt it was the right time to start a new chapter in my career.” He added: “It’s such a great family club, the supporters are fantastic and leaving them is one of the saddest parts.”
Horsham chairman Kevin Borrett paid tribute to Charman for his “loyalty and dedication to Horsham,” while urging fans to have faith in the new management. He said: “Fans are right to be nervous because we are making significant changes. The squad we will have will not be as experienced and many in the Ryman Premier will see Horsham as underdogs. But I believe with the experience we have in Justin, Hugo and Richard together with the squad we are assembling we can retain our Ryman Premier status next season – that is the objective.”
Mr Borrett said there would be a testimonial adding that the door was always open to Charman, who himself added: “Never say never.”