As preparations ahead of the new season draw to a close, the sense of excitement is palpable across the club as Horsham take steps into London 1S and the uncharted waters this new league presents.
The squad has been bolstered by several new players - a combination of returnees from university, players joining from other local clubs and talented youngsters stepping up from our hugely successful M& J section. Combined with the retention of all our successful squad from last season, we have managed to have a successful summer and the 3 preseason games have demonstrated that the coaching staff will face selection dilemmas on a weekly basis. Whilst many teams boast a combination of youth and experience, Horsham on the other hand have a young squad and whilst many observers will consider this a disadvantage along the immortal Alan Hansen line that you “win nothing with kids”, this youthful squad belies a fiercely competitive spirit, a will to work hard at their game and a rugby nous that will certainly see a few raised eyebrows at the way that we play. We are under no illusions that this season will be a step up in every respect, but we embrace the challenge wholeheartedly and look to play in a style that is true to our principles of fast attacking rugby that has served us well over the last few seasons.
This year, our Lions will be playing in the Surrey Premier League which promises to test the squad on a weekly basis and provide much needed competition for those players who miss out on selection for the 1st team. Indeed, in a throwback to club rugby before the league structures, on two occasions this season we will be travelling away together for league games against the same club opposition which promises to be two interesting coach trips!! With teams like Camberley, Cobham, Dorking and Rosslyn Park in the league, the season will certainly demand consistency in availability, training and performance if we are to do well.
London 1 South finished with a particularly close climax last season with Brighton sneaking into the play off position ahead of Camberley and Medway in the final match last year. Whilst without relegated teams from London SE Premier, this year will undoubtedly prove as competitive. With 4 promoted teams, each with their own aspirations and levels of confidence, a league transfer in the form of HAC and heavily advertised recruitment from the likes of Westcombe Park and Camberley, the challenge is obvious. Combined with the perennial challenge of Medway and some resurgent teams in the forms of Thurrock and Havant, it is without doubt going to provide stern weekly tests for the young Horsham squad.
In terms of exciting prospects, we start the season with an interesting matchup away against Sussex rivals Chichester with whom we have had a fierce rivalry over several seasons but only now returning to play at 1st team level. We will additionally renew acquaintances with Dartfordians with whom we have had great matches both at London 3 and London 2 levels in the past and it will be intriguing to see how we get on. We also face 2 other teams who play on an AGP in the form of Havant and Cobham. These games will surely see lots of tries as a result and certainly fixtures to put in the diary. Similarly, we renew acquaintances with Medway with whom we had fierce matches when they suffered an administrative relegation a couple of seasons ago. The chance to gauge our development as a team in the intervening seasons is a great incentive to perform well against one of the league favourites. On the subject of favourites, expect teams like Camberley, Havant and Westcombe Park to join Medway and battle it out all year and whilst we will understandably be looking to consolidate in the new league, we certainly believe that we have the ability to cause an upset here or there and in the process showcase the good work that has been undertaken at Horsham over the last 3-5 years including the installation of the AGP, the building of new changing rooms, the creation of a new members bar, the development of ladies and girls rugby and the growth of playing numbers across the sections. All in all, rugby at Horsham is in a vibrant state and now that the season is upon us, it is time to make good on that positive energy.
It promises to be an exciting season and we hope that you can all support us on the journey.