Harty on Albion and Doncaster, and Rebels’ youth set-up

THE Albion head up north this weekend to take on Doncaster Rovers, a club with which the Seagulls have a great affinity.

It was Donny, then managed by former Chelsea favourite Kerry Dixon, that provided the opposition at the last-ever game at the Goldstone Ground.

Then, a year later, the two teams met at Gillingham on Valentine’s Day for “Fans United 2” in a goalless draw and perhaps the worst two teams I have ever seen play in a competitive fixture involving the Albion.

Since then, thankfully, both clubs’ fortunes have changed, new owners have come in, which has seen an upturn and in both cases brand-new, state-of-the-art stadiums.

Therefore, with the collective history, it was quite fitting that the first-ever league game at the Amex was against Doncaster, which the Albion won 2-1, and this Saturday sees the return fixture.

And that’s where the sentiment will end. On the back of an emphatic 3-0 win against Ipswich, the Albion play-off push is gathering momentum, while Doncaster find themselves propping up the division in the throes of a relegation dogfight.

They’ve had a change of manager, with former Albion striker Dean Saunders now in charge. And they appear to have entered into a bizarre arrangement with a football agent over the player recruitment policy.

Hopefully, the Albion will secure a double before heading south for back-to-back home games against Cardiff and Portsmouth respectively. A seven-point haul from the three games, thus still remaining unbeaten in the league in 2012, will send expectation levels through the roof.

Worthing and Burgess Hill’s youth teams played out a five-goal thriller at Woodside Road on Monday night, with the home side coming from 2-0 down to win with a brace from Joe Warner and an 85th-minute header from Jack Williamson.

The game was a credit to both clubs and youth football in general.

When Wayne Wren and I arrived at Woodside Road last summer, it was always going to be a learning curve and it certainly has been an interesting and eye-opening season, both on and off the field.

The constant throughout has been the unstinting support of Morty Hollis.

As we all do, he has his detractors, but I have to say, having finally been involved with Worthing on the inside after years of being on the periphery, without him there wouldn’t be a club, pure and simple.

With six games to go, and by the very nature of the results, it is possible that any one of four clubs could still win the Ryman youth title.

But what is success?

When Chris White appointed Wayne and I, he had a clear vision.

And that was to bring local players through the system to play for the first team. This season, so far, we’ve had seven youth players actively involved on a first-team match day, and also had a further half dozen training with the first-team squad.

With that in mind, there are also exciting developments further down the line. Southdown Rovers under-15s are based in Burgess Hill and are one of the best clubs in the county at their age group.

However, of their squad, 10 players come from Worthing – a bizarre situation. Thankfully, that is now going to change as the squad have decided to accept an invitation from Worthing Dynamos to become one of their under-16 teams next season, with the view to then moving on to be part of the Worthing FC youth set-up the season after.