Martin Read – Sports Reporter
Alleluia! Horsham Football Club’s long, long wait for a home of their own is finally over, terminating their seemingly unending ground-sharing existence since leaving the old Queen Street ground more than ten years ago.
The Club has a long proud history, stretching right back to 1871, but, taking ownership of their own brand spanking new swish Hop Oast stadium is without doubt one of the Hornets’ very biggest days – on or off the field. The official handover ceremony took place in front of the stunning new clubhouse, with Horsham CEO John Lines receiving the keys from Stuart Burne, Director of Reside Construction, John saying: “Today is a momentous occasion for Horsham FC and I am so very proud to be a small part of bringing the club back home to the town, finally ending the eleven year nomadic existence for the town’s most senior club. Our players deserve this, our Management deserve this but more than anything else our loyal supporters deserve this. Thank you for sticking with us, we knew it would come eventually and we are on the edge of whole new exiting era for our Club. Thank you.” After the tortuous process of searching for a suitable new location, with several major setbacks along the way, Horsham District Council ultimately gave their backing for Hop Oast more than two years ago, since when intensive work has ensued. But, especially, and appropriately, coinciding with the Hornets’ promotion, the end result is certain to be the envy of many even bigger clubs, rewarding the patience of the entire dedicated team involved . Further work at Hop Oast remains to be done, and a working party will be at the ground getting things ready for the new season, with excitement building with the senior team beginning training sessions at Hop Oast. Then, there will be what the Club describes as ‘test’ matches against Hartley Wintney on July 13th and Haywards Heath Town on the 16th before the official opening against the Red Devils – Crawley Town – on Saturday July 20th, with the new season starting on August 10th. The Club will be announcing details of these matches shortly – probably all-ticket occasions, with limited, but increasing, capacity for each fixture. And the Club say that they will be introducing a membership scheme for the clubhouse, details of which, together with opening times, being revealed as soon as possible. Additional friendly fixtures have also been arranged, with trips to Steyning Town’s Shooting Field ground on July 9th, followed by visits to Eastbourne Town (23rd), Wimborne (27th), East Grinstead (30th) and Burgess Hill on August 3rd. Meanwhile, Horsham FC has boosted its off field team with the appointment of long-term supporter, Matt Jones, as Press & Social Media Officer, Matt saying: “I am beyond proud to be co-ordinating a brand new media team for the upcoming season. My aim is to make the connection between the club and its loyal fans as close and authentic as possible, through our media channels – I’m here to ensure we produce only the very best content. Horsham FC forever!”
Player news – Joey Taylor, who memorably sent over the pinpoint cross for Dylan Merchant’s crucial goal in the promotion play-off final – is moving on, Hornets’ Manager Dom di Paola saying: “He needs to be playing regular football and I can’t guarantee him that – he’s been great for us, I’m sorry to see him go and wish him all the best.”