ROCKS REVIEW: Youth revolution on cards at Nyewood Lane

A youth revolution is planned at Nyewood Lane. The Rocks are setting up an under-18 team and entering them straight into the Ryman Youth League for the new season.

Fans have clamoured for years for a youth side to be run by the Rocks and there are high hopes it will produce players on a regular basis who will be good enough to make the step up to the first team.

For a club like the Rocks who have little money to spend on buying players, that is crucial.

A key man behind the move is Mike Wood, who has spent years involved in youth football coaching in the Bognor area.

He will manage the team, and will have Mark Greene as his assistant and ex-Bognor and Pagham player Gary Kilhams as fitness coach.

Young level-three coach Nathan Baker will help set up the team and ready them for the huge challenge of the Ryman competition.

The under-18s will play home matches in midweek at Nyewood Lane and organisers hope plenty of Rocks fans will turn out to support them.

No-one is expecting too much of the first league campaign but it is seen as a first step towards a long-term success story.

Wood, who has coached a variety of youth sides locally over the past decade, said: “Last season, those of us who were running Bognor’s under-16s were given access to Nyewood Lane for home matches and that was really a first step to what we are setting up now.

“The under-16s struggled, partly because we had trouble attracting players, but it was a very good learning curve.

“Now we want to work with under-18s and going into the Ryman league will be an excellent way of bringing some of the best youngsters in the area into our squad.

“Jack Pearce is backing us all the way and I think everyone can see the benefits this could have for the club and the area as a whole.

“We’re hopeful of attracting some players from academies or some who have been released by pro clubs.”

Pearce said: “We’re convinced this is the right time to try this, but we will need the support of fans and sponsors.”

Wood is now starting the hunt for would-be players – admitting only four or five of last season’s under-16s are ready to make the step up to the new level.

And he wants to hear from those who think they have what it takes.

A trials day is pencilled in for Wednesday, July 27 and Wood is hopeful there will be plenty of takers.

Once the season gets under way they will be in the league’s south-east division, from which there is no promotion or relegation.

They’ll be up against rival teams spanning an area from Worthing to Ashford.

“We need to get settled with the team and can’t expect too much too soon,” said Wood.

“But longer term we hope to produce two or three players a year who can get a look-in with the first team. Hopefully plenty of Rocks fans will come along and support us.”

Some of Bognor’s younger age groups are also in need of new blood and it’s hoped launching the under-18s will also have a knock-on benefit for them.

The team are looking for a main sponsor.

Anyone interested in sponosrship or attending the trial day should contact Mike Wood on 023 9235 2723 or 07805 251454 or email