Horsham YMCA build for the future with formidable youth set up

It’s no secret that Horsham YMCA Football Club has been through tough times.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 2:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 2:08 pm
Horsham YMCA's newly appointed Head of Youth Football and U23s manager Dean 'Dixie' Laker. Pictures courtesy of Tim Hewlett
Horsham YMCA's newly appointed Head of Youth Football and U23s manager Dean 'Dixie' Laker. Pictures courtesy of Tim Hewlett

The departure of long term boss Peter Buckland triggered an exodus of senior players and when, because of inactivity during Covid lockdown, the Southern Combination League was abandoned for the season, YM were firmly in the relegation zone.

But, determined to bring success back to the club, YM have taken positive steps by installing a formidable, experienced team, creating a youth set up designed to identify, nurture and develop a pool of emerging players through to the senior side.

Acting YM Chairman Mike Whiteford says: “As a club, YM fully supports the Youth Football Pathway Scheme, it captures the ethos of the club, one squad supplying multiple teams. If a player is good enough then he is old enough!”

Horsham YMCA U18s manager Paul Brown

Dean 'Dixie' Laker is the newly appointed Head of Youth Football at Gorings Mead, where he is also U23 manager, while Paul Brown is the U18 manager, with Danny Fuller coaching both sides and Sim Johnson and Dan Footit running YM’s U18 Arun & Chichester League team.

This impressive line up inherits an already successful youth system at YM where, when time was called on the leagues, YM U23s were sitting top of their division, while the two U18 sides were third and fifth in their leagues with games in hand.

Vastly experienced Laker is both a Scout for Crystal Palace and Chairman of Chesworth Rovers, founded by his father, John, in 1969, and he told the County Times: “I shall be working closely with new first team manager Dean Carden to ensure that promising players continue to get their chance with the senior side once they can hold their own.

"Our aim is to get every youth player to the best level that they can be. Our first task is to nurture the lads back in – we haven’t had much football for a year, so there is a fair bit of pent up eagerness! And, to identify and bring in talent, we shall be holding Open Trials for our U18 squads for the 2021-22 season.”

Paul Brown added: “We want to develop a good team on and off the pitch with plenty of fun and banter, playing with a smile on their face, but with serious intent in matches.

"It’s been frustrating having had two seasons not played out to a finish when young players are at a critical stage of their progress from youth football into the senior game, so we’re all itching to get going again.”

Laker continued: “Silverware is obviously the holy grail and that’s what we intend to achieve. We want to attract and retain local community players with ambition to progress through into the senior game, playing dynamic exciting football on the way up, with excellence becoming a habit.

"To do that we shall be guiding and supporting each player, individually and within the team, with them taking personal responsibility for their own learning as they become young men - without being fearful of making mistakes.”

Determination is in the air at Gorings Mead with strong evidence of the will to fulfil the club’s potential and YM look forward to hearing from any Year 10 or U16 footballers who would like to come along to the May evening trials (dates to be confirmed by Dixie Laker – 07795 577148 – [email protected])