WORTHING Football Club boss Chris White is well aware his side is attracting attention from their league rivals for all the right reasons.
Rebels’ new signings, combined with an impressive pre-season, have put the Woodside Road club back on the Ryman League Division 1 South map for the new season – which they kick-off at Faversham on Saturday.
After establishing themselves as one of the top five clubs over three play-off finishing seasons, last year Rebels slipped out of the race at the top, but they are again being mentioned among the front runners and many are expecting a challenge from White’s new-look Rebels side – one he is aiming to make a reality.
With established Ryman, and higher-level players joining the side, along with the majority of last season’s squad staying, Rebels are expected to be rubbing shoulders near the top.
Darren Budd, Alan Mansfield, Jamie Brotherton, Ryan McBride, Glen Woodburn, Matt Hurley, Steve Davies, Matt Piper, Spencer Slaughter and Jamie Groves have all signed.
The departure of top scorer Terry Dodd to Bognor was a huge blow, but Callum Saunders, to Whitehawk, goalkeeper Tony Di Bernardo and George Gaskin were the only other leavers from last year’s side – while the vast majority of the club’s promising youth players have also committed to Woodside Road this season.
White said: “We are looking better than last season and a lot of people are talking about us at the moment – which I don’t know whether I am happy about or not.
“But we’re doing something here, we have a lot of good players now, we did last year, but were naïve at times. The important ones (players) are still here and there is a different mentality in the dressing room at the moment – a real winning one.”
On his league aims, he added: “I always do everything I can to win it, and this year will be no different.
“Everything I do in life I do to win. We certainly have the players here now and it’s what we’ll be looking to do.”
Rebels kick-off at Faversham on Saturday, and will be looking for revenge against a team they failed to beat last season.
White added: “Pre-season went well, but it’s really not about the results, although it’s good to get in the winning habit. It’s all about the performances and we are looking forward to getting going now.”
Rebels completed their pre-season campaign on Saturday with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Ryman League Division 1 North side Maldon & Tiptree at Woodside Road.
Ryan McBride’s first-half penalty was levelled up by Maldon before half-time.
The visitors then took the lead with 15 minutes left, before a Shaun Charles header and a volley from Spencer Slaughter gave Rebels the win.
The club are putting on a players and supporters coach to Faversham on Saturday for their opening Ryman League Division 1 South clash.
The coach, which costs £10, is leaving Woodside Road at 11.30am. To book a seat, call the club on 01903 239575.
Worthing are also holding a meet the players, manager and sponsors’ night at the club tonight (Thursday) from 7.30pm.