Former Horsham manager John Maggs is in disbelief that Horsham District Council failed to get behind the town’s football club when they applied for planning permission for a new ground.
The club’s most heralded manager oversaw two promotions and a tremendous FA Cup run in 2007 which saw Horsham being publicised all over the World through two second round matches against League One club Swansea City.
Maggs was match sponsor for Horsham’s 4-3 defeat at home to Three Bridges on Saturday.
The result kept them at the bottom of the semi-professional Ryman League table and perilously close to being relegated to the Sussex County League.
He said: “It’s sad to see where they are today. What they need is a new ground. Without that it’s a big uphill struggle for them.
“It’s tragic that a famous old club like Horsham, one of the biggest non-league clubs in Sussex, without that ground I think it will be a tremendous struggle for them.
My message to the council is: Every town, every borough in the country needs its football team.John Maggs
“Horsham need their football club and it is important they get that support.
“Not taking anything away from Crawley Town where I was for 37 years, my memories of Horsham Football Club were my best times.
“There was something about Horsham Football Club which embedded me in. I am now a supporter – although I am in Portugal! I wish them all the best for the future.”
Although no longer directly involved, Maggs could not believe the recent planning decision which again went against the club.
He said: “I am in disbelief. My memories take me back to the successful times with the FA Cup with two games all around the world on Sky TV.
“The town wanted to know about Horsham Football Club. When you are successful, everyone wants to be part of it.
“The club needs that support and I do hope they get that decision soon.
“I wish I could do more to support the situation. Let’s hope it happens in the near future.
“My message to the council is: Every town, every borough in the country needs its football team.
“It’s not about the actual 500 people who turn up to watch on a Saturday afternoon or midweek matches - it’s about the thousands who support the club.
“We could have sold 10,000 when we played Swansea, no problem at all.
“The lift we had that year was tremendous. The feel good situation in the town. There were flags in shop windows and everyone was talking about it.
“Horsham needs its football club and I feel they should be getting that support.
“I know the decision’s gone against them but I believe the football club will appeal and hopefully they’ll be successful with it.
“I had a similar situation when in my time at Crawley. I was told there by the minister of sport that every town needs its football club.
“The council came out eventually by building Broadfield Stadium and you can see the success that has gone with it – they are now playing in League One.
“In fact, if they had a bigger ground they would probably have a bigger support.
“Football is the biggest game in the world and it doesn’t matter how small you go, the grassroots of football, it needs its support. Right round to children and girls playing the game.
“People must always go out and support the game. I will always support the game and I will always be grateful for the career that I have had. A lot of it has been in non-league football and I am indebted to it.
“Horsham shouldn’t be playing in the County League. There’s a lot of people here working their socks off. It’s sad over the last couple of years looking from the outside where they are today.
“I sincerely hope things turnaround for the football club. They will always have my support.”
On his retirement in Portugal, he continued: “I am in the Algarve – a year ago I departed from Hastings FC and I felt I needed to give my wife and my family a little bit back – who have always supported me all my life – I had promised my wife when I’d finished football that’s where we would end up in Portugal having gone there for 35 years.
“We’ve got a nice place out there. We’ve been out there six months now and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.
“But I am always on the phone and on the internet looking at the results and kicking every ball.”
Maggs is not involved in football in Portugal but has started watching a local team near Albufeira.
He said: “The standard there is not what I am used to. Unless I go further afield to Lisbon or Porto it’s difficult. I’m looking at a little club out there near Albufeira - I’m only a supporter at the moment.
“But I could arrange a few friendlies if Horsham want a pre-season I could fix up a few games!”
Maggs always enjoyed a great rapport with the Horsham fans and heard them singing his name during our interview.
He praised: “The supporters at Horsham have always been the best. They are a wonderful crowd. I’m only too pleased in my time here we gave them a bit of success. We’ve enjoyed the journey together.”