We asked supporters of our Isthmian League clubs to preview the new season, reflect on the old and predict the final outcome. Their predicted 1-20 (or 22) will be worked into a final table which you will see just before the big kick off.
We’re off to the Camping World Community Stadium, home of the Hornets. Horsham fan Darryl Jacobs gives us a guided tour of the inside of his head.
Darryl is pictured above right, with his friend Stan, on a trip to Guernsey.
1. How do you feel about the return of football?
I’m chomping at the bit! It’s been such a long break since the suspension of non-league football that I’ve really missed it. I’m lucky to now be involved in the media coverage of Horsham’s friendlies, the first was a 3-0 win against Saltdean United, so I’ve had a little taster. But as non-league football has consistently been saying, we couldn’t carry on playing ‘behind closed doors’ for much longer. I’m therefore delighted to hear the latest news that fans will be allowed back into grounds for the start of the season.
2. The world has changed enormously since you were last able to watch a live football match. Will the pandemic change your approach to watching the game- will you attend as many matches as you used to, and spend as much time at the ground/in the clubhouse, etc?
No, it won’t change much for me. I’ll comply with the Covid-19 protocols, of course, but otherwise I’ll be attending as many matches as possible and enjoying a pint or two in the bar.
3. Last season had many exciting moments before its premature end. What was your favourite moment?
I think it’s got to be the sensational Rob O’Toole overhead bicycle kick in the 3-0 New Year’s Day win over big local rivals Lewes. Goals like that only arrive maybe once in a career, if ever !
4. And what was your worst moment?
I can give you two. First one was the last game of the season, a 2-0 defeat to Bognor at home . That put a dampener on our play-off aspirations, and then along came Covid-19 to put a much bigger dampener on everything ! The second one was our 4-0 defeat by Langney Wanderers in the Sussex Under 23’s Challenge Cup Final when our boys froze on the night and were so disappointed afterwards.
5. How will you do this season?
We lost a couple of really good players during the close season, namely Alex Kelly and Lea Dawson, who obviously we would have loved to have stayed at the club. However our new signings are really exciting, quality players, several of whom have played at a higher level. I believe we will have a stronger squad for the coming season, with more firepower, which hopefully will get us to the play-offs.
6. Which matches are you most looking forward to going to- and why?
I’m looking forward to our matches against Carshalton ,and I’m hoping to get to their ground this season as I’ve not been before. They’ve got a really good team with some exciting players, and they have been knocking on the door for promotion for a few seasons now, so I don’t think they’ll be far away. They also have a great set up, reporting , videoing and commentating on matches. James does a great job with Robins TV.
7. What is your favourite away ground?
I’ve not been to many Isthmian Premier League grounds so I’ll pick one from the next step down, the South East Division, and go for Guernsey. Been there twice, great atmosphere and large crowds often close to 1000.
8. Who do you consider your biggest rivals- and why?
I think Worthing. They are big Sussex rivals, probably title favourites and they beat us every time we played them last season. We need revenge, and if we end up above Worthing at the end of the season I think we could be top or very close.
9. What advice would you give to any away supporter visiting you for the first time?
Move around the ground, especially if it’s cold! Take a seat in the stand, then head somewhere near to the dugouts where you can hear a few interesting things, then finish up behind the goal. The one nearest to the bar that is.
10. Who is your favourite player of all time (for your club)- and why?
Joe Shelley. I’m sorry to hear that Joe has changed his mind about staying for another season at Horsham, I don’t know how many games he would have played, but he was closing in on 200 appearances. I’m sure everyone at the Club will wish him well wherever he plies his trade this season.
My other favourite player currently is Charlie Harris, he’s a stylish attacking midfield player, great on the ball, with a ferocious shot. With the right players around him he is quite capable of 10-15 goals a season. Still only in his mid 20’s I see him as a player capable of more improvement and he could become a star performer at this level.
11. Who will be in the top five at the end of the season?
Worthing, 2 Carshalton Athletic, Horsham, Folkestone Invicta, Cray Wanderers
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