Here’s my 1-11 of players who I've seen against Bognor during my time as a Rocks fan (I started watching in 1995). Each one stands out for many reasons, not just football. I've kept them all Isthmian related. One thing’s for sure, it's been an absolute pleasure watching the Rocks over this time. We've been very, very spoilt with so many highs and so many lows.
Gk - Phil Wilson - not only a superb goalkeeper for Dulwich Hamlet in many a battle with the Rocks but an absolute gentleman too. Good banter with the fans and carried on that personality in the bar afterwards at Champion Hill too. Top player - top bloke.
Def - Ibrahim Sonko - Harlow legend who should still have been playing higher up the pyramid when at Harlow. His performance against us a few years back stands out as one of just sheer class. Didn't put a foot wrong for them at all and made it all look so easy. Add the footballing ability to what he'd done for Harlow in setting up the academy and he's the epitome of how an ex-Pro should step down into non-league football.
Def - Francis Duku - despite being such a good footballer he's also here purely because of the person he was. You could see he was an absolute warrior on the pitch, but he was a gentleman off it. I remember being on the pitch after we won 1-0 at ours in the play-off final; Francis was absolutely heartbroken but still had time to speak to the Bognor fans and congratulate us on our victory. Such a gentleman and a player many Bognor fans are extremely fond of after many a battle with Dulwich over the years.
Def - Steve Robinson – an absolute colossus of a player for Lewes in their rise to the National League. Got a bit of stick for following Steve King around but actually went to each club and was deserving of all the honours he received. I remember before King went to Lewes there was a sneaky rumour he'd enquired about coming to Bognor, but actually it wasn’t a sneaky rumour as I'd had emails from his representatives. It didn't happen and looking back I'm torn as to whether I'd have liked it or not. We'd have probably won 2-3 promotions, had the most amazing journey and loved it but things always ended badly with the fans suffering the most at relegations and the fall out. It would have been an incredible experience though.
Def - Gary Charman - forget all he's achieved at Bognor, this guy is astonishing. Before joining us and helping us get to the FA Trophy Semi-Final and promotion (playing in goal along the way) he was already the record appearance holder for Horsham and had a stint as manager. Great player on it, bravest I've seen since our very own Marc Rice in the 90's and a gentleman to boot - has he ever lost a headed dual? His whole family were amazing to have around the club and Horsham are very lucky to have him back.
Mid - Wes Fogden - played for Bognor a few times but didn't set the world alight BUT in the one season of us v Havant & Waterlooville a few years ago Wes was the difference in Havant winning the league. That game at West Leigh Park where the winners would almost certainly win the league (the final day drama nearly put pay to that), the Havant side was absolute class and Wes made the difference that day. A Rolls Royce of a player and still doing so well at Dorking in the National League. Someone who perhaps won't get the plaudits he deserves until he stops playing - but what a footballer he is.
Mid - Alex Parsons - I know I said no Bognor players but this one almost made me want to cry seeing him score for "them" in the 3-0 win last season at our place (it didn't happen by the way!). Such a good player but again the person outweighs the player. Wish he was still in a Rocks shirt - Mr Consistency, and what a person to have in the changing room.
Mid - Ashley Carew - that name absolutely haunts me. You just knew that when he stepped over the ball at Nyewood Lane in the dying embers of the play off semi-final in 2016 it was going in. Freekick 25 yards out - it was only going one place and that set Dulwich up for the play off final. Outstanding player and one who'd fight for everyone on his side.
Mid - Stuart Thurgood - captained an absolute worldy of a Grays Athletic side in the early 2000's. That side exemplified non league football becoming more professional. I remember going there and getting thumped 6-0 and walking away thinking we'd done "okay". Captain, leader and went on to win the FA Trophy with them twice in a row. Pivotal player in a team full of superstars.
For - Ben Carrington - played many games against us for Worthing in the 90's. A bit like a pantomime villain. Every Bognor fan "hated" him but (whisper it quietly) secretly wished he was playing for us. Absolute master of gamesmanship and getting decisions to go his team's way, but also a very good footballer to boot.
For - Jason Prior - forget the 100 goals for Bognor, firing us to the FA Trophy semi-final, the Newcastle trial madness and making his Football league debut for Wimbledon after leaving us. This guy will go down as a non-league legend when he finally hangs up his boots. Promotions for Bognor, Margate, Havant and Dorking make him the go-to guy if you want a striker to get you out of the Isthmian League. What a player - what a guy.
Can't wait to get back to the Lane whenever that may be. Stay safe everyone - up the Rocks ?
Right, let’s have your First XI! Email your squad to Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll see it appear here.