Frustration for Sidlesham - but there's optimism too

Sidlesham celebrate a goal at home to Billingshurst / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Sidlesham celebrate a goal at home to Billingshurst / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Sidlesham manager Steve Bailey admits his first season in charge at the club has been frustrating – but says there is much to be optimistic about for 2019-20.

Bailey switched from Selsey to Sidlesham last summer, effectively swapping places with Daren Pearce, and his task was to keep Sids in division one of the Southern Combination.

Summing up the season, Bailey said: Frustration would be the best word to describe my first season at Sids. The chairman gave me the task of keeping Sids in the division at the start of the season. Easy, I thought, with the players I’m lucky enough to have at my disposal.

Add to that the unrelenting support given by reserve manager Gary Crees, secretary Michael Maiden plus assistants Nic Nolan, Nigel Horrigan and Shane Brayson, I was hoping for a top-eight finish rather than just survival.

“We have had some memorable games particularly in the FA Vase, winning 5-0 at Bagshot and making the first round proper being the highlight of a season that promised much but has rather fizzled out.

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“We have finish mid-table in the league which has surpassed the chairman’s brief but fallen short of my own hopes. Long-term injuries to key players, a lack of commitment from players and an ever-shrinking player pool in general made the season far from easy.”

Bailey said there had been battles with the parish council which had taken up a lot of time both for him and various committee members.

And he added: “As with most clubs at this level, finances are tight. Years of under-investment have left the clubhouse in disrepair and the grounds needing work. But we are working tirelessly behind the scenes, and, led by Gary Crees, who deserves a medal for his time, effort and never-say-die attitude, we are getting there.”

Bailey said the support of their two main sponsors, Sidlesham Garage and Hello Skips, was essential.

He added: “It has been a slog, to say the least, but having said that we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t love grass-roots football. So fingers crossed we go again next season. We have a works programme in place to start some much-needed maintenance work on the clubhouse. A pre-season schedule has been arranged and our sponsors are happy to continue to support the club, which is all positive news.

“The majority of the playing squad have committed to Sids for next season plus we have high hopes of bringing youth football back to the club with under-18 and under-14 teams, which will be great news for the long term.

“In summary it has been tough but things are on the up at Sids, so if you love football and want to be involved either playing or volunteering in whatever capacity then get in touch.”