The key points from Worthing Football Club's fans' Q&A

Worthing Football Club held a Q&A night at Woodside Road this evening to talk about the season so far and to look ahead at the rest of the 2018/19 campaign.

Friday, 4th January 2019, 8:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:28 pm
Worthing celebrate a goal this season. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Chairman Pete Stone and manager Adam Hinshelwood answered questions from fans about on and off-field matters.

The men's first team sit seventh in the Bostik League Premier Division this season but the ladies' team, academy sides and education programme are also equally as important to the club and were spoken about during the evening.

The evening started with Stone addressing the fans in attendance. Here are some of the key points from what he said.

"All key positions at the club are now covered. The club also now has a thriving club shop.

"I'm delighted with the leadership team and volunteer army and am also delighted with crowds this season, with an average of 1,004 for home games this season - the highest average for a step three club in the UK.

"The crowds are a great indicator we are doing something right and the feeling around the ground on a matchday is good. As crowds get bigger, it brings other challenges, for example smokebombs and bottles of beer were confiscated at the Bognor home game.

"The feedback on our social media content has been fantastic and we want Worthing to be a club people want to be part of."

Stone went on to say how Woodside Road needs work doing around the ground: "Our facilities are becoming a problem, my ear is bent every week about the toilets. That's the main cause of complaints and various buildings have leaking roofs.

"If we do get to National South, there's more we'll have to do."

Worthing's chairman also revealed how the club's admin has led to several fines: "Administratively we are pretty weak and are forever getting fined. Some of it drives you mad.

"We took a league handbook from a AGM, went to pay the £3 in cash but couldn't pay in cash and got invoiced. It got missed and we got fined £50 for a £3 handbook.

"Since the start of the season we've shelled out about £2,500 in fines, some of it is our fault because we've missed things. But £2,500 in fines is £2,500 we shouldn't be shelling out.

"But it's been a whole range of things as we've got bigger and more teams.

"50 per cent of the fines have come from the ladies' team. People have dropped the ball and made mistakes but that has now been fixed and addressed."

Stone also spoke about the club's 3G pitch issues and said: "There's an on-going dispute, it's in the hands of FIFA who have been phenomenally good in supporting our cause. All parties involved have come to an agreement that an independent civil engineer will be appointed.

"He will examine the sub-surface below the carpet and find out once and for all, is that sub-surface unstable? If it is, is it causing the pitch to lose its levels.

"FIFA say it is, third party experts say it is but the carpet supplier and contractor say it isn't, so that has to be resolved.

"Tests will be run when the season is over.

"The two parties we are in dispute with have been removed from the FIFA lists, which prevents them from using the FIFA brand for 3G pitch construction. It's hurting them commercially, so it's in their interests to get this resolved to the satisfaction of FIFA. That's on-going."

On the current season, Stone said: "Our target for the season was to be competitive and to see young players coming through, As a fan, I would love to win the league. As chairman, I want us to be competitive and be in the mix and be progressing from last year. We do not want to be a club built around loan and non-contract players and older bit-part players.

"We want a first team built around younger, regional talent. We've got eight or nine of our first-team squad on contracts. The average age for our last four or five games has been under 21 which is unique for our division to have so many younger players tied into the club. We're in conversations to lock more of them in.

"There's a couple of things that aren't working. The ladies team is probably my biggest disappointment not for performances but because we've failed to integrate them into the club.

"We had a new manager and it just didn't work. Hannah is making a huge difference as player-manager and it's going much better.

"They've been a bit isolated and we have to get them back and be as keen and passionate about our ladies' football as our youth, academy and first team.

"Injuries have also been a nightmare. The biggest frustration for me as a club is we don't know how to deal with it in the best possible way and help Aarran and Alfie. Lucas was more straight forward because it was a clean break.

"Everybody is going off and trying to find their own solution. If you want to be and feel like a big club, we have to have a solution for things, which we've now got.

"In the next four to five months, we've got to tighten up our day to day admin. We can't have any more fines. We've got to cut those out and plan to upgrade our facilities.

"We've got to do fund-raising and raise more money. There's a couple of big sponsorship opportunities which will come up, with the stadium naming rights contract ending in May so we'll be looking for new sponsors and we'll look to re-engage Rabbit on the pitch.

"On the pitch, we'll be looking to expand the academy side and get a new intake from August, so we can at least double our numbers in our academy. And we'll explore ideas to expand our youth set-up further.

"We have now got a person who will be a director of medical science and services. It's someone who held that role at a Premier League club and is from the local area. I did refer Aarran and Lucas.

"It's really given us a focal point to help people like Natalie from a first team perspective to help Aarran, to help Adam, to help me if we've got one collective expert view to direct everybody in terms of the best course of action with fitness, injuries and conditioning.

"If we want to feel and be like a big club, we have to have some of these things in place.

"We started the season with a lot of fund-raising ideas but haven't got round to any of it. We have to do more. All big clubs do fund-raising. We need to do it to help Adam and the ladies team."

Before the questions started, Hinshelwood said: "I'm really proud and honoured to be manager of this football club. I love this job and working with the education programme, first team and working here full-time with the best talent in Sussex from under-14 to 21, 22 year olds.

"We've got some of best under-24 players in the area and I'm proud to watch them on a regular basis."

Q: Zack and Reece have gone back to their parent clubs, will anyone else come in on loan?

Hinshelwood: "They could be potential signings in the future but are playing a league and two leagues higher. They've gone back to their parent clubs but we'll keep monitoring that. I'm really happy with the quality we've got in the group.

"We want to stick to our beliefs, which is giving young players an opportunity. We've lost a player to a Premier League club and there's Championship and League One clubs who have taken our players on trial.

"We are ambitious and we want our young players to stay here. If you look at Ricky, Clarkey, Ajiboye and Danny Barker, just imagine what they'll be like in two years."

Stone: "Welling wanted a fee for Zack but we weren't in a position to give Welling a transfer fee. If it hurts us in the short term, we have to bite the bullet because we've got young players coming through.

"People think we are a Billericay or a Dulwich and have money coming our of our ears but we don't."

Q: What would need to be done around the ground to go up into National South?

Stone: "We'd need a separate facility for spectator medical incidents and we'd need to have the ability to segregate fans at the point of entry. It's only in the National League you have to segregate but in National South and North you have to have that ability.

"We'd also need separate toilet and refreshment facilities."

Q: What's the capacity at Woodside Road?

Stone: "We're limited to about 2,500 because of the entry and exit points.

"If we were to open up entry points in the corner and alley way behind the other goal, it would boost the capacity. You could physically get 4,000 and a bit in here."

Q: Could we get lottery funding?

Stone: "We're a limited company, limited by shares. Lots of grants and subsidies for the lottery are only applicable to charity organisations."

Q: Why is there no music on in the bar after games now?

Stone: "We've got a load of ideas of what we want to do. On a matchday, you can't win. For every ten who liked it, another ten didn't."

Q: Will Kleton stay when Lucas is back?

Hinshelwood: "It's something for us to look at. Lucas has upped the rehab working on his arm. We've got an unbelievable goalkeeper under contract at this club and were lucky enough to bring Kleton in as well.

"It will be very hard to keep two keepers of their calibre at this club.

"I was really pleased with our recruitment there. Both of them will want to play regular football. Hopefully Lucas will be back available by the end of the month."

Q: How did you get Ajiboye to come here?

Hinshelwood: "I was pestering him all summer and am really pleased with our recruitment.

"Some of the players we've been lucky enough to recruit we're seeing them at the early stages. Imagine them when they've got 50 games under their belt at this level, the likes of Ricky Aguiar, Danny Barker and so on.

"With an average age of 21, we're not going to be the finished article. I'm not the finished article at 34 either. But one thing we are is honest and will work as hard as we can to keep improving.

"Teams come here, give us the utmost respect and make it hard for us. When teams win here, it's like they've won the FA Cup.

"In this league, any team can go on a run winning games and any team can go on a run losing games. I believe with the group of players we've got that we can be competitive.

"We want to entertain the fans, so they keep coming back. Our formation has changed a lot this year because I'm constantly trying to find a way to play entertaining football.

"If we have 11 Aarran Racines, you're looking for results. But you have to look at our 14, 15, 16 year olds. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing them come into the first team.

"We're not in a position to get experienced players throughout our ranks. No one wants the three points more on a Saturday than me and the players but we are very young and still learning and improving. That will show in the results sometimes."

Stone: "We could win this league by doing what Billericay did. If we gave Adam another £10,000 a week we could go and get five players in.

"It would be exciting for a couple of months but then they'd go to the next club which will pay them that sort of money. You have to believe in something. If you fail at least you've had that passion and you've tried to do something the right way.

Stone and social media

Stone: "I've come off social media because I got sick and tired of reading the rubbish that's out there.

"In the last couple of months, we've been battered left, right and centre on social media by other football clubs and there's other things behind the scenes that aren't so public.

"It would be easy to be distracted if we've lost four in a row, get on Adam's case, give him another couple of grand and chase results but that's the wrong thing to do.

"I do not believe in that and Adam is the same. It's about having a dream and a vision for the longer term.

"If we don't get promoted this year, so what. There's always next year.

"If we can get people who want to play football at Worthing, we're doing something right, especially if people go on trial to Premier League clubs and prefer it at Worthing. Some of that is Adam but some of it is because of what we're doing.

"You have to believe in something and have a passion for it.

"Social media was such a big distraction and that's why I dropped it. There was a danger that I or we could lose focus. You (the fans) can have fights with fans of other clubs.

"But if you said to any of them would you rather have a 1,000 average home crowd, our facilities, Adam Hinshelwood as manager and have our academy and youth teams? Everyone would say yes.

"It's easy to get distracted by chasing the result and a short term dream, but throwing a ton of money at it isn't what we want to do."