The George Dowell Era
Former player George Dowell took control of the club at the end of the 2014/15 season
Dowell didn’t waste any time, investing heavily in not only wiping out all the clubs debts but also laying down a brand new 3G pitch, giving The Rebel’s Tavern a complete makeover, converting it into The 7HQ Sports Bar and Cafe and continuing general improvements to Woodside Road.
All this coming after his own career was ended by a serious car crash in 2010, which left him confined to a wheelchair and paralysed from the chest down.
George used his compensation money wisely, setting up Worthing Football Centre to help create a real community hub at Wooside Road, with the new artificial surface available for hire to all teams and age groups seven days a week. All this coming after he had formed his own football team in the West Sussex League, Worthing Borough.
However, early on in pre-season George and his fellow new directors were already looking for a new Manager, with Hinshelwood’s impressive fire-fighting skills attracting the attention of his old club, Brighton & Hove Albion and a move back into the full-time game followed, with his appointment as Assistant Manager to their Under-18’s.
Jon Meeney was promoted to the role of Joint-Manager alongside new signing, Gary Elphick, who would continue his playing career. Both incumbents making their senior management bows.
Former player Matt Piper returned to the club as player-coach, complementing the experience of the evergreen Mick Fogden, while Stuart Owens became the new Goalkeeping Coach and Natalie Stenning followed Elphick from Lewes, to become our new physio.
Nobody could have predicted how the next nine months would unfold. The first team sealed promotion back to the Ryman League top flight for the first time since 2007 by winning the Division One South Play-Offs.
An extraordinary semi-final at Woodside Road saw Hythe Town demolished 7-0, before a crowd of nearly 2,000 witnessed an equally decisive 3-0 triumph over Faversham Town in the Final, also played on The Rebel’s 3G surface.
Three members of the squad, Will Hendon. Brannon O’Neill and Omar Bugiel were subsequently named in the Divisional Team of The Year.
The only disappointment coming in The Sussex Senior Cup Final, where Eastbourne Borough went home with a narrow 1-0 verdict. Although nobody could forget the semi-final penalty shoot-out win over the holders, Whitehawk.
The Under-21’s stormed to success not only as South Division Champions of The Ryman Under-21 League but also as overall winners, with a nail biting triumph on penalties against The North Division Champions, Billericay Town at The Harlow Arena. Jazz Rance won the golden boot as top scorer in both the South Division and the League as a whole. Only a 2-1 defeat to Lewes in the Final of The Sussex Intermediate Cup at SCFA HQ prevented them walking away with a clean sweep of trophies.
Not to be outdone, the youth team had several of their own make it into the first team, finished runners-up in the South Division of the Ryman Youth League and enjoyed an epic run all the way to the third round proper of The FA Youth Cup. After tense wins at Sutton United and Biggleswade Town, the Young Rebel’s adventure was eventually ended by the number one ranked youth team in the country, Middlesbrough, in front of a crowd of over 1,100 at what has now become The Bibby Financial Services Stadium.