Chichester City out to make real impression in Sussex League

Pre-season training has begun at Chichester City FC with first-team managers Neil Sherlock and Sean Forry upbeat about the season ahead.

They were pleased with the turnout at the first session, which included a number of new faces who are contenders for the new campaign.

With others returning from holidays and a decent schedule of friendlies, the duo are confident they will have a good squad of players ready to hit the ground running in August.

Sherlock said: “ We’re hoping to retain most of the young squad who performed so well in the second half of last season and continue the improvement of those players with, if we can, the addition of a few, more experienced campaigners.

“We have some exceptional young players at this club and the introduction of a few older players will really help them develop to their full potential.”

Forry added: “If we can replicate anywhere near to the second half of last season in the first half of this one, this is going to be a far more positive campaign for us.

“We have the raw talent and they are all now one year wiser - if we can retain those players, add a bit of experience and work hard we may surprise a few people.”

City’s cause will be helped by their situation ‘off the pitch’ this summer. Football preparations in the past few years have been overshadowed by the club’s fight, first for outright survival and then for retention of their senior status.

But with the club putting those problems behind them and the emerging support of local people and businesses, there is a real sense this season can be their springboard to future success.

The club have also revealed their endeavours had attracted the interest of the global football community MyFc.com after an American businessman read about them on this website.

It is a web-based community set up to join, support and assist with the development of a non-league club in the UK. It is made up of thousands of individuals across the UK, Europe and beyond who six years ago teamed up with Ebsfleet FC - who they sold at the end of last season for £1.5m.

They have since undergone a nationwide search for a new club to invest in and were seeking partnership proposals to consider. City came into the running late and discussed opportunities based on the ‘ethic’ they have created for the club.

Their proposal was considered by the membership, alongside those of a vast number of clubs up and down the country at varying level of non-league football.

City were voted into a final group of 13 and then in a second-round vote, selected as one of a final four. Some 30 per cent of the membership backed the proposal but with voting tight between three clubs, City missed out by just eight votes to make the final cut.

Forry, who dealt with communications between the two, said: “We didn’t think much would come of this when we were first contacted by the group but as time wore on, it became obvious that there was a serious chance this could be huge for the club.

“MyFc had problems but also huge success at Ebsfleet. They were keen to get their next partnership right and liked the things we were doing as a club. In the end, though, it seemed that our non-central location was the determining factor to the majority, UK-based members.

“It was a shame to miss out by such a narrow margin but getting to the final three is a real boost as far as I am concerned and makes us believe we’re going about our rebirth of the club in the right way.”

Chichester City friendlies

First team

Tues, July 16: Moneyfields A 6.30pm

Sat, July 20: Petersfield (2 games) A 1pm

Sat July 27: Christchurch H 3pm

Tues July 30: Fareham A 7.30pm

Others, subject to league start date, not yet known.

Development squad

East Wittering

East Dean

Lavant: all TBC

U18s

Sun, Aug 4: Roffey H 11am

Sun, Aug 11: Hayling Utd A Midday

Sun, Aug 18 Horndean (TBC)

Sun, Aug 25: TBA

Ladies

Sun, July 28: Lewes A 2pm

Thurs, Aug 8: Gillingham H 7.30pm

Sun, Aug 18: Pompey A 2pm