Rocks Review: We don’t want to be seen as a last resort

Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick - pictured at the Sussex Senior Cup final - arew working hard to mould next season's squad  Picture by Chris Hatton
Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick - pictured at the Sussex Senior Cup final - arew working hard to mould next season's squad Picture by Chris Hatton

THE ROCKS say they don’t want to become a destination for players who simply can’t find a better club.

Manager Jamie Howell suspects some would-be recruits see Nyewood Lane as a last resort if they can’t get fixed up with a bigger or better-paying outfit.

But he says the size and quality of the squad he and the management team already have in place ahead of pre-season means they can afford to be more choosy in who they take on - and they won’t go for anyone who wants to join Bognor for the wrong reasons.

So far there have been no summer signings, but the bosses are talking to a number of potential new signings.

They expect to have to wait until clubs start their pre-season before getting much business done.

A goalkeeper and a striker are the top two priorities and Howell said the lack of any actual signings should not lead fans to believe nothing was happening behind the scenes to plan for the 2013-14 Ryman premier campaign.

One player who won’t be coming for a pre-season trial is Littlehampton goalkeeper Johhny Hendrick, who has decided to stay put and not throw his hat into the ring to replace long-serving Craig Stoner, who we revealed last week was calling time on 13 years at the lane.

Howell said: “It might seem quiet but we’re working hard behind the scenes.

“What we’re anxious to do is only sign players who want to be here.

“We’ve had players in the past who have said they’re interested and then gone off and looked elsewhere, and only come back to use if they can’t find anything they think will be better.

“We don’t want to be seen like that, as a last resort. We don’t need players like that.

“We have a fantastic club and we are lucky to have - already - a fantastic squad. We want players who want to play for Bognor.

“Apart from the need to replace Craig, I wouldn’t panic if we didn’t add a single player to the squad before the season started.

“We’ve got numbers and quality, and that’s heartening at this stage. But that’s not to say we won’t be hunting around for the right additions.”

Fitness guru Neil Cockroft has been working striker Terry Dodd and defender Stuart Axten hard in the gym. Dodd was in and out of favour last season but Howell said it remained his view that a fit-and-fired-up Dodd could prove the club’s number-one striker.

The Rocks have decided against a big percentage increase in the price of season tickets for youngsters.

Plans to charge £55 have been replaced by a structure that will see under-18s and students pay just £35 for a ticket covering all 23 Ryman home games - working out at £1.52 per game.

Adults will pay £165 for ground admission or £185 to include a seat in the main stand, while over-65s will pay £130 or £145.

On-the-day match admission prices are remaining the same as last season.

Enquiries about season tickets - and the sponsorship draw, which is still open to local businesses and individuals - should go to Maurice Warner, who is at Nyewood Lane and on 01243 822325 between 10am and midday every weekday.

STEVE BONE