A trip to Lancing awaits Herne Bay on Saturday, and perhaps to meet Horsham for the last time at the HQ of the Sussex FA. By the end of 2018 Horsham’s time as wandering nomads should have come to an end. The Hornets, who since moving from their former Queen Street Stadium have shared with Worthing, Horsham YMCA and latterly Lancing, look forward to the opening of their new out-of-town stadium at Hop Oast, Horsham and it is hoped to be ready by Christmas.
The first Horsham Football Club was founded in 1871. The club eventually became members of the Sussex County League after winning the West Sussex Senior League for the fourth time in 1925/26. After a six-year spell in the Corinthian League they entered the Athenian League Division One in 1963/64. Herne Bay joined the Athenian League Division Two in 1964/65 and two seasons later were joined by Horsham who had been relegated from Division One. They met for four campaigns, Bay winning once and drawing once, with the Hornets victorious on six occasions and in 1969/70 Horsham were champions and gained promotion to Division One. In 1970/71, it was Herne Bay’s turn to win the League and there were four encounters in Division One, ending in one Bay win, one a draw and two defeats. 1972/73 saw Horsham top the table and move to the Isthmian League, whilst Bay’s last season in the Athenian was a year later, when they finished bottom, and joined the Kent League for 1974/75.
After various league re-organisations Horsham found themselves in the top tier of the Isthmian League after finishing second in Division One, to Ramsgate in 2005/06. Horsham moved out of Queen Street, their home of more than 100 years.
They were relegated from the Isthmian Premier in 2011/12 and three years later there was a further drop after ending rock bottom and 12 points from safety in the Isthmian Division One South. There was an immediate return as they were crowned champions of the Southern Combination First Division for 2015/16. They ended 16th in their first season back and 15th last time out.
Bay have come out on top in the ten Isthmian League encounters, winning six, drawing two and losing two. There was also an FA Cup Second Qualifying Round victory, 5-2, last season.
Dom Di Paola, former Clymping, East Preston, Worthing and Hastings United boss was named by the Hornets as their new manager three years ago and he moved in the summer to strengthen his coaching and management team by appointing former Worthing and Eastbourne Borough man Jon Meeney as head coach. Meeney was confident about the forthcoming season: “We will be stronger next season. It’s exciting, there are deals done. We are very happy with how the recruitment has gone. I am taking a step back in divisions, but I am taking a step back to take a step forward with Horsham. For me, it’s a case of who wants to take that step with me? I have to be a role model and set a standard here to be the best we can be. We have to step up and get it right to make sure we are going into that new ground and are ready for what the future holds for Horsham. Those that want to work hard and be involved, good. Those that do not, maybe their time at Horsham has come to an end.”
For all of Meeney’s rhetoric Horsham have not had a great start to the season, losing three out of their opening four league matches (Sittingbourne, Haywards Heath Town, Whyteleafe) with their single victory being at Sevenoaks Town. This has left them in 13th place, four positions and one point ahead of Herne Bay. They are out of the Velocity Trophy, losing 3-1 to Bracknell Town, after claiming the scalp of Haywards Heath Town in the Preliminary Round. In the FA Cup they beat Carshalton Athletic 1-0 in the Preliminary Round and after a 1-1 draw with SCEFL Corinthian in the First Qualifying Round they went on to win the replay 5-0 on Wednesday.
The game will be at Culver Road, Lancing, Sussex, BN15 9AX. 99.2 miles from Winch’s Field. Estimated journey time 1 hour 41 minutes. Horsham are 10th in the Isthmian League South attendance table with an average of 217 (high 240, low 195).
Updated 21:59 - 12 Sep 2018 by sam surbey