Friday, 6 May 2011

Bognor Regis with Simon Cook

Nyewood Lane , the home of Bognor Regis FC
Not so long ago, Ryman League Division One South side Bognor Regis were relegated from a league they helped to form, but there are no regrets. The Rocks decided to keep within their budget and club secretary Simon Cook is glad that they did. “We used to be in the Blue Square South Division and were founder members of the league. However, like many clubs we found it very hard to compete at that level financially. So, we made a decision not to spend money that we couldn’t sustain, even though we anticipated we would then drop down a level, which we did. We are playing at a level at which we are comfortable and now we don’t have any debts, we are on a much stronger footing.”

The Rocks are a club with a proud history, famously knocking Swansea City out of the FA Cup in the mid 80's, but although repeating that success would be near impossible in today's era, Simon is buoyed by the quality of football currently played at Nyewood Lane. “I think we have a team spirit back which makes a big difference and we’ve been able to attract some good players. It is a good combination of young players who are finding their way and some old heads that are helping to lead and develop them. Our joint management team are former players who have fought to keep the club playing attractive passing football. It is amazing how the clubs support has been galvanised. We are averaging a home gate of 450, which is higher than all but four clubs in the Ryman Premier League.”

Bognor are currently striding away at the upper echelons of their league and plans are now in place for their promotion, should it arrive. However, Simon stresses that on-the-pitch success is not everything and strides for the club to play a bigger role in the community. “It will be a challenge for us to sustain the club at a higher level, probably a natural level for this club would be the Ryman Premier but the step up will require more financial challenges. Our aim is to stabilise and we won’t overstretch. However, being part of our local community is also very important. We have a number of youth sides and even a veterans side.”

It has been a turbulent few years for Bognor Regis. After suffering relegation, their clubhouse was on the receiving end of an arson attack and some wondered if the club were on a never-ending downward spiral. However, the West Sussex side now possess a brand spanking new clubhouse, which hosts seminars and meetings and on the pitch, success appears to be following in similar fashion. It seems that the only way is up.

written by Will Lyon

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