Retiring Knee reflects on glittering football career

Worthing record appearance holder Mark Knee called time on a glittering football career back in October
Worthing record appearance holder Mark Knee called time on a glittering football career back in October

A stalwart of Sussex football has decided to hang up his football boots with his last success of a glittering career a league winner’s medal with Horsham.

Mark Knee played for eight clubs across the county, including Bognor, Whitehawk, Horsham and Worthing.

He spent the longest period of his playing days at Worthing and is the record appearance-maker for them, featuring 414 times for the club in two separate spells over a ten-year period.

Knee, who was 40 in October, said he would love to know exactly how many games he had played over a glittering career. The highest division the full-back played in was Conference South, but feels he could have played in a higher division.

He won the Southern Combination League with Horsham in 2016-17 - in his second spell with the club - but eventually numerous injuries forced him to retire this season. The defender started his senior career at Steyning Town aged just 16, but moved on to challenge himself to progress his career, going on to play for Lewes.

He moved on for his first stint at Worthing, where he helped them win the Sussex Senior Cup and make it to the FA Cup first-round proper, when they lost 3-0 to Rotherham back in 1999, as well as gaining promotion to the Ryman League Premier Division in 2004.

The left-back then moved on to Bognor and then Horsham - making more than 100 appearances in the Ryman Premier - and then a league and cup double with Whitehawk.

Knee said: “Most of my time was spent at Worthing, but I felt the time was right to move to Bognor to test myself at a higher level.”

Asked who was his favourite manager to play under, Knee said: “There have been a few. My fondest memories were with Sammy Donnelly, when he gave me my first chance at Worthing. Dominic Di Paola was the manager I finished up with. It was more like playing with your friends.

“The more technical managers were at Bognor. I really came on as a player, playing at a higher level.”

The full-back played with so many good players in his career. Knee recalled that Stuart Tuck was his favourite team-mate from their time together at Worthing.

“I broke my leg and then he came in as a replacement for me at left-back,” Knee said. “And then when I came back from that, then I played alongside him, he gave 110 per cent and really helped the young players along.”

Knee was trying to keep playing but he called it a day before the start of this season as there was too much ‘wear and tear’ to his knee cartilage.

Asked about his love of the game, Knee said: “When growing up, my father was well into football, and he used to play and coach for Steyning Town, so he came along to the games when I was a young lad. So, I had it all the way, when growing up. I enjoyed the social side of it, and the fact that it was a good way of keeping fit.”

Knee’s dad gave up playing football in his early 30s, so Knee knew he wanted to prolong his career for as long as possible.