For the second installment of TSLR’s look into the world of non-league football, we decided to look a little further from home, and think about the needs of our 6-fingered readers who occupy the rural hinterland of Sussex. For us Brightonians, the gritty urban backdrop of Whitehawk ticks a lot of boxes this weekend, but for our corduroy-clad brothers and sisters, we heartily recommend West Sussex Isthmian stalwarts Horsham FC.
The Hornets, as the yellow and green clad Weald-folk are affectionately known, are way older than the Albion, first kicking balls around in the early 1870s. They currently play in the Isthmian Division one South along with a bunch of other Sussex clubs like Peacehaven, Worthing and, erm, Guernsey. Sitting 5th with 11 points from 6, Horsham will be looking to get back to the Isthmian Premier league after being relegated in 2012, though this is the highest the club have ever played at.
Horsham is quite a big town really, with 55,000 residents sharing a pair of clubs; Horsham and Horsham YMCA. In fact, Horsham now share YMCA’s ground, Gorings Mead on Brighton Road. The ins and outs of Horsham’s mission to find a home are no-doubt a longer story, and perhaps one a Hornet’s fan can fill us in on in the comments section below.
To get an idea of where Horsham are in the wider scheme of things, the Isthmian Premier (the league above, sponsored by Rymans) feeds into the Conference South, and so-on and so-on. Whitehawk won the Premier last season if you remember.
An off-peak day return to Horsham from Brighton is a measly £12, with a ticket for the game on Saturday coming in at £9 (or roughly the same as a pie and pint at the Barberdome). In true Non-league Day fashion, the Hornets have put on a family ticket; 2 adults and 2 nippers for £14. Bargain.
The opponents on Saturday are Chipstead. A band of commuter-belt Surrey cats whose claim to fame is that Footballers Wives was filmed at their 2,000 capacity home. All games at this level are local derbies, so watch out for Horsham’s ultras group – The Lardy Boys – who may well brighten up the match with a mad pyro display much like what you see in Turkey. Kick-off at 3pm.
For drinkers, well, this is Dark Star country, so the freshest of Sussex brews should be available in the town from the local brewery. They also have a shop in Partridge Green that is open on Saturdays for all your bottles and merch.
So that’s two options for you. Whitehawk’s mini-Albion revolution or leafy Horsham and some fresh-ish country-ish air. More to come tomorrow.