The Worthing College Men’s Football Performance Programme enjoyed another successful season by clinching titles at both County and National Levels, which provides further evidence in the programmes meteoric rise from its inception 5 seasons ago.
The Performance Programme that had a squad of 40 players with two teams stepped into unchartered territory with the 1st XI playing their first ever season in the England Colleges’ Premier National division and Performance Programme Coach Dave Hall set a realistic target of staying in the division and to then develop upon these experiences and performances in this coming season. However the squad tore up the form book and cast aside more illustrious opponents including SEEVIC (Essex), AFC Wimbledon & Kingston (Undefeated at home for over 2 years) to win the league by 7 points, only losing one match in their 14 league games.
Hall said this of his charges this season “In the league we set a target to stay in the top division as most promoted sides at any level look to do. After winning the first 5 matches without conceding this looked as if our original target was going to be met, but we needed to keep our feet firmly on the ground, so only when we were mathematically safe did alter our targets to a top two finish. All members of the programme have had an outstanding season, and one they should never forget throughout their careers, as its not everyday that you can say you have won a National League as a player.”
What was the key to the team success? Hall answers “The players who come to us are all technically proficient, so we really look to emphasis the importance of the team and therefore the individual roles within a team. Organisation is also key because if the team shape is not right, teams at the level we play at will punish you and this part of our play has been in evidence this season, especially as a defensive outfit, only conceding 11 goals in 14 league matches, which was the best out of all the National Leagues, so again something else for the whole squad to be proud of. I can’t be more happy for this group of players, as all their hard work paid off for them.”
After winning the National League they took on Leeds City College in the Quarter Finals of the ECFA Championship, which Hall felt was an opportunity missed as Worthing dominated a major part of the game, but ended up losing on penalties 7-6 after the match finished 2-2 in normal time. “We (Hall & Danny Cullip) were devastated for this group of players because they were better than Leeds, however this is why football is such an admired game because you can be punished for not taking your chances and not always the best team progresses. I felt sorry for Joe (Warner), who missed two penalties in normal time, but he will learn from this and be a better player for it. Its also unfortunate that people will forget that Joe scored 21 goals at National College level and 2 in the Leeds match, but us at Worthing will not forget his and his fellow team mates contributions, which will all go down in Worthing College sporting history.”
In addition to National recognition both 1st & 2nd XI’s reached their respective Sussex Schools County Cup Finals, with the 1st XI completing a double by defeating Bexhill College 3-0. Unfortunately the 2nd XI were defeated by Thomas Bennett, but again Hall was philosophical in defeat “These boys won’t forget this defeat and will learn that you can’t be out the game inside 30 minutes, which they were and I’m sure this will help those coming back to us next season for the new challenges that lie ahead.”
Hall also gives special praise to fellow Performance Programme Coaches Danny Cullip and Mike Bridges, who have been a major part in the success of both the Men’s and Women’s Programme at the College. “Myself, Mike and Danny have an excellent working relationship and we have all worked hard to ensure that the players have an effective environment on where to develop and express themselves as players. Mike has done exceptionally well to gain his A Licence (Level 4 Coach) as well as creating the Women’s Programme into a dominant force locally (5 times county cup winners) as well as taking on the best young teams in the country (Arsenal and Chelsea to name a couple). Danny has 20+ years of experience playing the game professionally at the top level and the boys really take his advice on board and this is visible with the development of all players at the programme. In combination with myself as a Level 3 (UEFA B) coach we strive to ensure that players analyse their performances and if this is the case then the results look after themselves. This is a programme we are extremely proud to be a part of.”
Looking forward to next season Hall is extremely excited, but knows this will probably be the toughest season to date. “The difference with this season is that everyone will know who Worthing College are. Therefore as players it will be a different challenge, but those players who were with us last year can’t forget how hard they worked to get where they are and must be role models to those coming in to ensure that development is swift and effective. Its vital that the new players coming in adapt to the level of play and are full of confidence to make sure that they express themselves at the Colleges’ top level of football. I’m sure they are looking forward to the challenges ahead.”
The England College Fixtures are out and it sees Worthing take on SEEVIC, Stanmore (Middlesex) and Boreham Wood, who were last seasons adversaries and with Richmond, Canvey Island, Harefield (Watford) and West Suffolk making up the remaining places, Worthing will have an exciting, yet extremely challenging season ahead. Hall reflects on the league make up by saying “I think its great for our players to pit their wits against players and teams from other areas in the country as they pose different problems from those players, who they have probably played since they were 6 or 7 years old. I think SEEVIC and West Suffolk will definitely be up there as SEEVIC finished second to us last season and West Suffolk were also knocked out of the National playoff quarter final stage. The six hour round trip will also pose different questions, but again this enhances the player experience and development that we look to give them at Worthing College”
Worthing College will begin their league programme away to Harefield on Wednesday September 12th. In preparation for this the programme are training in August and culminates in an intense pre season week from August 28th-31st. All five Performance Programmes (Men & Women’s Football, Rugby, Netball & Basketball) play at the highest or near to level Nationally. If you as a business or other organisation would like to work alongside the Academy of Sport Programme, where young people are representing the town in a positive light, please contact Dave Hall on his email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.