Horsham’s preparations for the new campaign are well under way with off-the-field improvements and on-field additions at the Coolhurst Ground.
It seems a very short break from last season on account of the very late cup final at the end of May, where the Green and Whites picked up the Bob Rogers Cup for the fourth consecutive year.
In the intervening time, the coaching and management team have been busy planning for the season, which will see a new artificial grass pitch and changing rooms contribute to a very exciting year ahead.
From a coaching perspective, the team will move into its second year together having welcomed Adam Halsey and Johnny Porter last year to complement the more established team of Richard Bell and Nick Stocker.
The balance among the coaching team shone through at the end of last season which has seen further development of the already exciting playing style and attacking threat that Horsham are known for.
With a very young team, the foundations laid last season during a year in transition will be built on further during 2017/18 in London 2 South East.
Although the league will be very competitive, the Green and Whites expect to have a considerable say in the outcome of the honours towards the end of the season and no team will welcome the thought of playing Horsham on our artificial pitch in front of their home crowd.
Teams like Dartfordians, Beckenham and Charlton Park have aspirations of promotion where as those relegated into the league will have expectations to return at the first opportunity. When combined with eight Sussex derbies through the season, and two very long trips to Dover and Deal, the challenge will be considerable.
The club have retained the vast majority of last year’s squad who will be all the better for the experience gained. Younger players such as Jordan Bell and Ryan Maguire, who were colts until this year, have a full senior season under their belts.
The physicality and multiple ball-carrying threats posed by the likes of Richard Tredgett, Michael Tredgett and Jonny Whiting will cause all teams problems and there will be competition for places in the second row.
Last season’s player of the year Nick Bell will no doubt follow up with another great season and will be pushed all the way by Jordan Smith, who is looking awesome already at this early stage.
In the backs, with rugby intelligence and pace to burn, the club have managed to recruit well and welcome back Josh Mills from travelling, Mike Watts from his time with Worthing and a new recruit from National League-level rugby.
When combined with the conveyor belt of talent coming through from the junior sections of the club, the indicators are for a competitive 1st and 2nd team ably lead by Tom Johnson, who assumes the captain’s armband for a second season.
The season kicks off with two pre-season friendlies on August 19 away to Reading and then at home to Old Reigatians on September 2, when the Lions also open their campaign with a Sussex Cup fixture against Uckfield.
The league campaign starts with what will no doubt be a full-blooded affair between two old Sussex rivals when Horsham entertain Haywards Heath on September 9.
Vice chairman and commercial manager Richard Ordidge said: “With all the development off the field in terms of new changing rooms and the soon to be installed AGP, our facilities will soon be the envy of the league.
“When balanced with the enjoyable and welcoming atmosphere at the club, we are always looking forward to welcoming new players to the fold no matter what the level.”