Horsham CEO John Lines has saluted the club’s players, management and supporters for picking the club back up after dismal relegation from the Ryman League.
From lows to highs, it has been a campaign to savour. Horsham have amassed 97 points and scored 131 goals, clinching the Southern Combination League with a game to spare.
It’s a far cry from last season when their 42-year stay in the Ryman League was ended as they scraped just 36 points.
But Dominic Di Paola assembled a brand-new squad in the summer and they have been the stand-out side in the Premier Division.
Lines confessed it was his most disappointing time with the club the previous season, but despite fears relegation could damage the club, he has been delighted to see them thrive this year.
He said: “This has been the best football playing squad for some years at the club and that is all down to Dom and his management team in their coaching and man-management methods.
“Not only are we a team on the pitch, Dom has a team off it too and they all work together with a creative, skilful and professional determination to produce winners.
“Getting relegated from the Ryman League at the end of 2014-15 was probably the most disappointing moment in my time with Horsham FC.
“The way the team capitulated in the final few games of the previous season was not a good sign but in truth, the board knew that Dom would be creating a new team almost from scratch.
“We had been very impressed with Dom in our various meetings. His CV spoke for itself at this level and his commitment to the club from day one was refreshing.
“The squad that Dom had constructed pre-season was a world away in attitude and togetherness from the previous season. Throughout the season, the team performed as a close-knit bunch of lads expressing themselves and enjoying their football as a collective and not just individuals.
“Some great football was played and the fans loved it. Yes, there were one or two wobbles but the team had both character and desire to win the title which they did in style and creating records on the way.”
Without their own home, again a disappointment from last year when a planning application for Hop Oast was turned down, fears of the affect of dropping to Step 5 were raised.
Lines said: “The worry was that by going into a lower league we were going to suffer with a shortfall at the gate and a shortage in funds.
“We should have known however that you cannot keep the loyal supporters of this club away and we are all absolutely thrilled they have enjoyed what has turned out to be a remarkable and exciting season, bringing new life and optimism back to the club.
“This really goes to show just how much this club means to the community of Horsham and why the green and yellow shirts display the badge bearing the motto ‘Proudly we Serve’ must continue to survive and thrive in a new ground of our own without further delay. You simply cannot ignore how much this club means to so many.”
Lines believes the main challenges of stepping back up next season, to which the County Times understands will definitely be the Ryman League South Division, are mainly financial.
“Of course we are excited to be going back into Step 4 football and we hope it will be in the Ryman League but the FA will make that decision shortly,” he said.
“From what we have gathered it certainly points to us rejoining what is a strong and competitive league.
“Our aims and ambitions have to be moderate in the first instance but with the kind of players Dom and his team can produce, who knows?”
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