This is where we'll bring you a light-hearted,
and not at all bitter, look at some of our rivals. For now, let's
start with a look at our fellow Sussex Ryman sides - more teams
will follow in due course.
Disclaimer: Any opposition fans likely to
be offended - please go away and don't come back to this page. There
- that's that sorted then!
Recent history: Our traditional arch-rivals moved
a division ahead of us last season, after a lengthy spell in the
same league. Famous for playing seasons of two halves - they'd either
start really strongly, then fade, or be nailed on for relegation,
then pull away after Christmas. Despite their most valiant efforts
last season (drawing their last game, almost handing promotion to
Lewes) they misjudged it and ended up promoted. Portsmouth Newsagent
Jack Pearce has a reputation as a bit of a dictator, however his
sides do have a reputation for playing good football - something
their fans seek solace in whenever they lose (which hasn't been
too often this season).
Habitat: Home is Nyewood Lane, a very low-rise
ground with a severe shortage of seats. There is a decent amount
of cover (two-and-a-half sides), and a big clubhouse behind the
uncovered home end. The bread pudding is deservedly popular, but
watch out for the Little Green Bag at the door.
Crowds: Disappointingly low for a Ryman Premier
side, and notoriously quiet. The promotion run did see a few come
out of the woodwork, and their numbers can be swollen by passing
Pompey fans. No matter how attractive their passing game is, they
just can't attract the crowds.
Why don't we like them? History, basically. They
seem to hate us more than we hate them, probably due to living in
our shadow for so long. Bognor is a much smaller place than Worthing,
and often looks west to Pompey rather than east to the rest of Sussex
for identity, giving them a skewed view of the rest of the county.
Finally, all their pubs are rubbish - the bottle bar? Come on -
it's an off-licence with seats!
Recent history: Languished in Ryman Division Two
for a while, then came good when they didn't have to (the season
before the restructure), finishing second behind Lewes. The momentum
carried them forward for a while, before fading last season. John
"Jazz" Maggs had a shaky start to this season, before
enforced team re-jigging produced an impressive run of form.
Habitat: Antiquated and crumbling Queen Street
is home to the Hornets. There you'll find a small main stand, a
large, new-ish "cowshed" terrace and slippery (and possibly
condemned) railway sleepers behind one goal. The toilets are a fair
trek, at the far end of the often cramped clubhouse. Horsham have
been due to move for years now, however rumours abound that a lot
of the cash from a ground sale deal, supposed to go towards a new
home, has been spent on the playing side over the past few years.
Crowds: Horsham have a small but very loyal and
vocal hardcore, known as the "Lardies". They have a very
good reputation for humour and banter around the league, but did
get a wee excitable (with the ref) at the end of our 3-3 draw last
seasons. There is a nice atmosphere around the place, with the players'
wives and families very friendly to each other (compare Uxbridge!).
Why don't we like them? Err, we do actually, I
suppose. Although there is a history of rivalry in the olden days,
and a Senior Cup game a few years ago ruffled a few feathers, the
two sets of fans seem to get on okay with each other.
Recent history: Lewes were suffering badly in
the 1990's, playing in a shabby ground in front of one man and a
dog. Enter ex-Worthing midfield stalwart Jimmy Quinn as manager,
and cue a mercurial transformation. After a couple of seasons of
consolidation, forming a hard-tackling, no-compromise side (much
like Quinn the player), the Rook's won Ryman Div Three, Div Two
and the Sussex Senior Cup (against Bognor, which made us chuckle!)
in quick succession. Despite all this, it was a defeat that was
Lewes' crowning achievement: to Stoke in the FA Cup First Round.
This led to cup fever gripping Lewes, and a whole tranche of new
fans discovering the Club, many of whom stayed on board the bandwagon.
Habitat: The "P*ssing Pan" was once
a very scenic and unique ground with a unique character, until someone
decided to build a bloody big lego brick stand behind one goal (think
25% Tooting), without a thought to extra facilities. As a result,
the ground is surrounded by a decaying ancient brick wall, topped
in places with broken glass, and has a shabby wooden stand with
few seats (and poor sightlines), a very steep slope (that does give
great views), and a strange, narrow clubhouse building. The bar
is tiny and on the ground floor - the toilets (the only ones in
the entire ground) are round the back of the building on the first
Crowds: For years, crowd congestion was not a
problem. Crowds that would have shamed Banstead Athletic were the
norm, and could comfortably be accommodated in the wooden stand,
and consisted of a handful of players' guests and old men. Lewes
played a Senior Cup tie at Woodside Road in 1999, and the away support
was measured in single figures! The cup run brought a (relatively)
huge influx of new supporters, taking the crowds up to the 250+
plus mark, and continued success in the league has seen them rise
to regular gates not far off what we get at Woodside (impressive
given the small size of the town). Far and away the worst aspect
of Lewes' new support is their failure to understand elementary
non-league etiquette - whilst other fans change ends at half-time,
many of them stay put in their new stand.
Why don't we like them? There's quite a few reasons
here, as Lewes have rocketed towards the top of the list, seriously
threatening Bognor's position as the club we love to hate. Aside
from the lack of respect to the non-league tradition of changing
ends (above), there is a high degree of arrogance surrounding the
club, from the board itself through to the comments heard on the
terraces at our last meeting, through to the self-satisfied tone
of their internet presence (one site and two forums at last count).
Lewes fans appear to struggle to win, lose or draw with any grace
(although there are signs this could be changing). At the time,
the high amount of money Lewes received for their cup run (as opposed
to ourselves two years previously, before the huge AXA sponsorship
deal) annoyed us - this has since been compounded by constant digs
at our own "moneybags" status whilst refusing to accept
that their own side hasn't come cheap! There is an over-reliance
on players from London, which ties in nicely with their supporters'
lack of any sense of history. Finally, there is an ultra-arrogant
feeling amongst their supporters, propagated at every opportunity,
that they are the unquestioned "best supporters in the league",
and are thus acclaimed by all other fans to be in this position
(surely the true best supporters would have the good grace to not
claim it at every opportunity). Err, that's about it - and to think,
I haven't even resorted to making "just one big family"
jibes of any sort.