Former Millwall midfielder joins Horsham

Tom Kavanagh is Horsham FC's fifth new signing of the summer.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 5:22 pm
Tom Kavanagh at Horsham / Picture: Horsham FC

The experienced midfielder, whose previous clubs include Millwall, Sutton United and Merstham, joins the Hornets from Isthmian Premier Division rivals Kingstonian.

Kavanagh told the Horsham website: “It was quite easy really. When I spoke to Dom and Simon (head of player recruitment) it was a no-brainer because the direction the club’s going in is a positive one with the move to the new stadium and the fanbase growing like it has done. I think they were surprised I was available to be honest, which was a compliment in itself.

“Dom wants to achieve promotion, which is why I’ve come to the club. I don’t really want to go anywhere to play just for the sake of playing, I’m still hungry for success, and just love the whole feel of the club.”

Tom Kavanagh says joining the Hornets was a no-brainer / Picture: Horsham FC

Kavanagh started out at Crystal Palace as a youngster before heading to Millwall. He then joined Sutton United where he broke into the first team and became a regular in the side which won promotion to the National League South in 2011. The 30-year-old then joined up with Hayden Bird at Merstham, and was captain when they were beaten at home to Oxford United in the FA Cup live on BT Sport.

After losing the Isthmian Premier play-off final in 2019, he left the Moatsiders for Kingstonian, where he was reunited with Bird, and had another foray in the world’s oldest cup competition, thrashing League Two Macclesfield Town 4-0 before being knocked out in the second round.

And he hopes that FA Cup pedigree will make him a good addition to the squad. He said: “Every cup competition I like to do well in, personally, but also it generates a bit of money for the club and gets people through the door, especially if you can get a good tie at home as well.

“It’s a brand new changing room I’m walking into, a brand new challenge. The changing room I was in at Merstham was one of the best changing rooms I’ve been in and I think in non-league football that’s such a major factor.

“If you can get on well with everyone and have that buzz off the pitch as well as on the pitch then you will more likely than not, be a successful team.

“I’ve got so much to give on and off the pitch with my experience and I feel I can bring a lot to this team. I’ve got lots of energy and play with personality on the pitch, I like to wear my heart on my sleeve.”

Dom Di Paola is happy to add Kavanagh to the ranks, saying: “He’s someone I’ve liked for a long, long time. He’s a really good person who will fit in with the boys, our sort of player, and can play in any of the midfield positions comfortably.

“It takes some of the pressure off Doug (Tuck) in that holding role because we haven’t really got anyone else other than him to play in the deep positions.

“We never quite replaced Lea Dawson and I think Tom’s got a bit of what Lea brought to the side.”

“Brivs is more of a box-to-box, Charlie’s a number 10, Brad’s more of an attacking midfielder, so Tom completes our midfield and, it sounds a bit basic, he’s got height and I’ve felt if you look at our team, we’re not as big as I’d like

“In this league you need some power and last year we were a little light in terms of physicality so with him and Jack, if he’s fit, it gives us a nice blend of the two. Hopefully we can see the best of him because he’s a good player.”

Kavanagh added: “We want to be up there fighting and with the squad Dom’s assembled, with the players that have been here, who are still here now, there’s no reason why we can’t be up there at the end of the season, either winning it outright or through the play-offs.

“It’s really exciting. Part of the excitement is because football has been taken away. Everyone has missed it; fans, coaches, players. Everyone associated with the club.

“Even the first game of pre-season, it’s going to be such a massive occasion, it will be like a cup final in itself I’d imagine, but yeah, buzzing to get going, really excited to be here and for the challenge ahead. It will be a tough season no doubt but nothing is given to you easy.”

“(I want to) establish my self in the team, and establish myself within the club and the fans as well. I always like to hit double figures, in terms of goals and the last few years I’ve managed to do that. I want to help the team as much as I can to reach where we all want to be.

“You’ve got to do it on the pitch and what I’ve seen of the Horsham players over the last couple of seasons playing against them, they’re a hard-working group of lads, they seem really together, which was a big thing for me coming here.

“I’ve got to fight for my place, there’s lots of really good midfielders here, but I’m really looking forward to it, I really like the way that Horsham play.”

A PE teacher by day, Kavanagh is also a UEFA B qualified coach and owns K&R Sports Academy, which provides sports coaches to schools helping them with PE lessons and after school clubs. Also looking after AFC Croydon Athletic’s youth section, he admitted he’d love to get involved with the development of our young Hornets:

“I love coaching and working with the kids, It’s something that I’ve seen on social media, that you’ve got loads of kids teams so I’d be more than happy to pop down, if I can, and help the younger ones out.”