Friday, 8 July 2011

Worthing Leisure FC

Please read below for my interview with Worthing Leisure player/manager James Everett. It was published in the latest Football Focus magazine which can be viewed here for absolutely free! Included in the current issue are Deveronvale, Leith Athletic and many more football clubs.

Worthing Leisure

The clue to the philosophy of Worthing Leisure is in their name. Their ideals are to have a squad of players who simply enjoy playing football and are not motivated by money. James Everett, player and manager of the club, spoke in depth to Football Focus last month and recited a fascinating and admirable story.

Worthing Leisure FC
“I spoke to a friend about the idea of reforming our old Sunday football team to play in a local Saturday league after becoming disillusioned with football in the County League team I was involved in. I wanted to bring a sense of pride to be associated with a team by forging friendships on and off the pitch amongst our own team and opposition. In my eighteen years involved in County League football I have seen what people play the game for - enjoyment - slowly taken away from the game with players looking for an extra tenner in their win bonus and leaving clubs on a regular basis thus losing that team spirit within these clubs. I wanted to form a side that played for one reason only and that was enjoyment and passion for the game.”

However, it is not a free-for-all at the Worthing League side and there is a reasonably strict selection policy. As James explains, incoming players must understand the philosophy at the club. “We are very careful taking players into the squad to ensure that they understand how the club works and due to this, we rarely have disappointed players when they are left out, or dropped to the bench. We are primarily a group of friends that when we put our mind to it, are a pretty good football team.”

Sometimes the main obstacle is age, as James admits that many of the players are pushing towards forty years of age. “We are all the wrong side of thirty, so having a large squad is essential to ensure that we have fourteen players turning out every Saturday. We're mindful that our team possibly won't go on forever as we are mostly all thirty or over. At the end of each season a number of players seem to be rattling from pain killers and are bandaged in order to play, so trying to find younger players in order to continue the team is challenging.”

In fact, James is keen to stress that although Worthing Leisure may have an experienced side, they do possess a lot of quality in their ranks. “A lot of our players have already played at a higher standard. Stuart Hack, our club captain, has played for Conference South side Lewes where he played in the FA Cup first round against Stoke City. Miles Scerri, is the current record holder for goals scored in a single County League game. Both of the previously mentioned have been recognised in the County League team of the decade in a recent local newspaper poll. Our leading goalscorer, Stuart Anderson was also a former Burnley trainee. We do have a few players that I'm sure could still ply their trade at a higher level, but due to family and work commitments, they would find this more difficult than playing in our local league.”

Of course, as with many teams like Worthing Leisure, financing the club is often the biggest challenge. James said “we sort funding from two local businesses, Sussex Paving and Decking and Strand Dental, in order for us to cover the relevant costs of forming a team and entering a league and also to buy kits and balls. Financing our team is always a concern at the beginning of each year. We are self funding and each player will be charged a signing on fee and match fees for each game, but with pitch and referee fees ever increasing, this does play on our mind.”

Looking to the future, James is hoping that the club can continue in the right direction. “Next term, we would like to continue in the form we have displayed over the previous two seasons and challenge for honours in the Worthing Premier League. We also want to continue the well established culture of the club as a group of friends and see what this mad adventure brings. Can we become a County League Division Three team in years to come? Who knows? Dream the dream.”

written by Will Lyon

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