Worthing Football Club under-18 boss Ian Hart has decided to step down after five seasons in charge of the side.
Hart’s final game with Rebels was their 3-1 Ryman Youth League South Division loss at Whitehawk on Thursday and he admitted it has been an enjoyable time working with the youngsters.
In his time overseeing the side, Hart has seen 25 players make the step up into the first team at Rebels.
This season alone, 11 players from the under-18 squad have been involved in first-team squads and Hart feels that is a great achievement.
He said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as manager of the under-18s.
“I originally had a meeting with Chris White (then Rebels manager) about taking the job on.
“The view at that time was to bring a lot of young players through and we have managed to do that.
“I would like to say a massive thank-you to everyone at the club, I couldn’t have done this job without my assistant at the start Wayne Wren, while also Tony Pendalino, Steve Hoare and Calvin Buckland have been great helps.
“I’d also like to say thanks to Worthing Youth secretaries Bryan Hardman and Roger Johnson, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Hart’s highlight of his under-18 tenure was reaching the FA Youth Cup third round earlier this season.
Rebels met Middlesbrough at Woodside Road with more than 1,000 fans in attendance and ended up losing 3-0.
He said: “It was a great evening at Woodside to come up against a top side in Middlesbrough.
“We matched them for periods on that night and it was a great experience for myself and the boys.”
In three of his five seasons as boss, Rebels’ young guns have finished runners-up in the Ryman Youth League South Division.
With one game to go, they lead Burgess Hill by three points but the Hillians have three games in hand.
Hart feels Worthing are the Manchester United of youth football in Sussex and that everyone wants to beat them.
He said: “The biggest problem we have had is everyone wants to beat us and ups their game against us.
“It’s tough when every team is doing that but credit to the boys, they keep going.”
Rebels’ first team joint boss Jon Meeney was full of praise for the job Hart has done.
He said: “Ian has done a fantastic job here. This season alone, 11 of the youth team have been involved in mine and Gary’s matchday squads and that makes our lives a lot easier.
“At non-league level, youth teams are what you pride yourself on and Ian has done a good job over the past five years here.
“I think, overall, 25 players have made that step up into the first-team while Ian has been in charge of the under-18’s.
“He’s got some great contacts and has done well.”
Hart will remain a director at Worthing Football Club.
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