Harty on... England’s win and Worthing FC

First for sport
First for sport

WHAT a difference 90 minutes can make?

Prior to Monday night’s kick-off in Switzerland, sections of the press and football fans alike were already assembling virtual reality gallows to string poor old Roy Hodsgson up on – in the wake of the expected poor performance by England in the first Euro 2016 qualifier.

But it didn’t happen, a Danny Welbeck brace, and a well above average England performance have now seen Hodgson and his squad taking plaudits, rather than brickbats.

As Jimmy Greaves famously used to tell us, at least once every week, football is indeed a funny old game, but it’s equally as fickle.

While one win won’t totally change the national football team’s on-going issues, it will certainly give the manager that all important bit of breathing space.

Coupled with the next fixture being a Wembley home game against minnows San Marino, it might just give Hodgson a chance to get some kind of structure in his young squad.

Another issue for the FA is, with a relatively unattractive qualifying group, the problem of filling Wembley for the group home games.

There was an indication of this last week with a half-empty stadium for the friendly visit of “box office giants” Norway.

This whole conundrum could actually work in the FA’s favour in regards to their extensive community programme around the country.

For the lesser group games, the suits at Soho Square should bite the bullet and go for £2 for all under-16s and make the maximum adult ticket throughout the stadium no more than £40.

I guarantee you would fill Wembley, possibly clawing some of the money back on the food and souvenir concessions but, more importantly, possibly getting a whole new group of young fans wanting to watch live football.

n A week in politics was, according to Harold Wilson, a long time, so for Worthing Football Club a year seems like a lifetime.

Just 12 months ago, with crowds dipping well under 200 and with a below average squad, Rebels were possibly heading for an uncertain future.

A year on, crowds are up, and under the guidance of the new management team of Adam Hinshelwood, Jon Meeney and Mick Fogden, the club is well on the way back.

With three sides now playing out of Woodside – the first team, under-21s and under-18s – it’s clear that the long-term vision of chairman Lee Noakes and the board is clearly working.

Clearly, as both youth team manager and a director, some might say I’m going to have a prejudiced view, but the figures do not lie and tell a story in themselves.

Of all the senior players signed on for the club, i.e. over 18 years of age, at least 19 have previously played for the Rebels youth team.

Looking around at other Sussex Ryman League sides, does any other club have that kind of conversion rate?

The on-going progress of Rebels takes another step forward with an attractive FA Cup tie at Dulwich Hamlet this Saturday.

Worthing travel to London on a six-match unbeaten run in a far better place for staff, players and fans alike, than they were a year ago.