Rousing end to Hillians’ renaissance season

burgess hill's u18 Sussex County League team
burgess hill's u18 Sussex County League team

A wonderful season of rebuilding at Burgess Hill Town is ending in a blaze of glory.

While the first team gave Ryman South champions Dulwich Hamlet a real fright on Saturday, leading for nearly half the match before the hosts snatched the draw they needed to seal the title, the two youth teams have each won their respective leagues.

Ashley Carr’s Ryman League under 18s made it three titles in a row and also reached the County Cup final for a third successive season.

And on Wednesday the County League under 18s, managed by Neil Wheeler, won 2-0 at Hassocks to clinch the title.

They then returned to the Beacon on Sunday and beat Eastbourne Borough 2-1 to enable MoM and skipper Luc Doherty to lift the League Cup.

The team will return to Hassocks for a third time and again face Eastbourne Borough if they win their semi final play-off at Chichester tonight (Thursday).

Meanwhile, the Ryman youth team also face a play-off match. They will take on the Eastern Division champions, which is likely to be Sevenoaks.

The Ryman side produced two England Schools players this season in Curtis Gayler and Luke Donaldson. They also played for the front side, as did team-mate Greg Luer who made a really big impression.

Three of their squad have also won scholarships to American universities.

Manager Carr said: “This season was particularly satisfying as we had a big change in personnel and brought in a lot of younger players.

“It was probably harder than in the previous two years but we played some superb football and scored 60 goals. We have some very good attacking players and scored some great goals.

“Next season we will revert to one youth team in the Ryman League but also field a team in the new Ryman Under 21 league. The older team will be managed by Ryan Gayler.

“Some Sussex clubs are not bothering to enter the South Division but we believe it will be a massive help to the first team, acting as a reserve side. It will give us three tiers and be the perfect stepping stone into first team football, which we haven’t had up to now. We’ll also be able to play two over-age players which will be a great help.”

Meanwhile, first team boss Ian Chapman was delighted with eighth place and highest finish of the the six Sussex clubs.

The emergeance of ex-youth team players Max Miller and Kit Tregear as Ryman quality players mean he believes the addition of only three or four new players can turn Hillians into viable play-off candidates.

“We know where our priorities lie but the Dulwich game showed me how far we’ve come,” he said.