Volunteers from all sections of Chichester City FC joined forces to prepare their ground for the season ahead.
Players, supporters and family from the ladies, men’s and youth teams turned up to weed, paint, clean, plant, repair, move and do anything else asked of them.
The show of unity at a club who have experienced huge difficulties on and off the pitch in recent years signals a bright new future.
The club have fought for survival in the two years since new premises were completed at Oaklands Park.
A drawn-out dispute with landlords Chichester District Council has been followed by a further lengthy period of reconciliation and negotiation but now, as the new season approaches, it looks as though a full lease over the ground will finally be issued to the Lilywhites.
This will mean that, for the first time since its completion, the club will be able to realise the commercial potential of their premises and begin to stabilise off the pitch and develop all playing sections.
Chichester are still not sure if their men’s first team will be playing in the first or second division of the county league next season but remain confident the team will flourish.
Joint managers Neil Sherlock and Alex Twitchen, appointed towards the end of last season, have the necessary knowledge, approach and skill to rebuild the team and develop gifted young players from the club’s youth section and the community.
The set-up of a men’s developmental squad, their election to the Suburban Football League and appointment of ex-under-18s manager Sean Forry bears this out.
It will be a great chance for those entering senior football to compete with young, developing squads from Conference, Ryman and other senior county clubs.
Keith Tallent is appointed the club’s county under-18s manager while Pat Loten continues with Arun & Chi League under-18s. Both teams will aim for success with squads built around those remaining from last season’s successful under-18 and 16 teams.
Andy Gilbert is the new chairman of the youth section and hopes to see teams emulate the exceptional levels of achievement seen last year and - at the top age group - follow their predecesors into the senior section.
The ladies had a wonderful 2011-12 season with the first team taking the South East Counties title.
They are looking forward to continuing their climb up the national ladder with manager Matt Wright, relishing the prospect of facing opposition like Crystal Palace, Norwich and Ipswich in the South East Combination League.
Caz Henry-Evens is again at the helm for the reserves and is confident her young side will continue their improvement in the SE Counties Reserve Premier.
The ladies will look to expand their new girls’ soccer school and will continue to provide low cost entry into and development in football throughout the district.
City hold the FA chartership, have excellent links with the city’s main higher-education providers and have plans in place to provide football to disabled children and adults.
Club officials say it is clear Chichester City have matured into a club focused on the community.
They would like to hear from anyone who’d like to get involved in day-to-day operations of the club and from any local businesses who can provide sponsorship or assistance, no matter how small.
Similarly, they are interested to hear from anyone interested in playing football at the club at any age or level.
Contact Sean Forry via the club’s website.
Any senior men’s players who believe they could play county football and have an interest in joining the club are invited to the club at 7pm on Wednesday, July 4, for a meeting and light training.