Horsham boss Di Paola speaks season’s aims and targets and his league favourites ahead of kick-off

Dominic di Paola on Saturday. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Dominic di Paola on Saturday. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola has given the thumbs up to their pre-season campaign and is aiming to improve on last season in what will be a landmark one for the club.

The 2018/19 Bostik League South East campaign will see the Hornets move back to the town and have their own ground for the first time in more than ten years.

While the new season kicks off on Saturday with Horsham welcoming Sittingbourne to their temporary home of Culver Road, work on the new ground at Hop Oast continues at pace.

They hope to be in by the end of the year and that is what is causing most excitement for the Hornets boss.

It’s been a successful pre-season under new head coach Jon Meeney and as well as retaining the majority of last year’s squad, they have made eight exciting new additions.

And while some may see it as a promotion-challenging squad, Di Paola is keeping grounded - focusing more on the excitment of the new ground. He said: “They are a really good honest bunch and have trained really hard and been available wherever possible in pre-season.

“I have really enjoyed pre-season this year and I have not said that for a couple of seasons, they really have worked hard.

“It’s a cliché, but the aim is just to do better than last year. There is always optimism with the supporters and there is nothing wrong with that.

“Whoever you support everyone goes into the season feeling they are going to win the league.

“Last year we were a top-half team apart from the last six weeks and we want to get into those areas again.

“We want to go into the new ground with something on it; something to play for, and a bit of momentum.

“I am just really looking forward to it and looking forward to Saturday. We are going into the new ground this year and looking to build some proper continuity. We have some boys on contract now that we like and we are looking to the future.

“We soon won’t be playing at Lancing, can train when we want, have our own ground and that is what I can’t wait for the most. With all those positives, I just can’t wait for this season.”

And while Di Paola knows Horsham have strengthened their ranks, he is aware that so has everyone else.

On if he thinks people will be considering them challengers, he added: “I don’t know. We had added players, but so have everyone else. I think if Cray don’t win the league, they have underachieved - they should have won it last year.

“Hythe have more firepower than anyone. Both have light years more quality than we have. Most teams have strengthened, but I think it will be between those two.”