CHICHESTER rugby chiefs are calling on the fans of any sport in the city to get behind their win-or-bust bid to reach the national leagues for the first time in their history.
They host Eton Manor at Oaklands Park on Saturday afternoon knowing one more victory at the end of a memorable season will earn the big prize and take them to a level of rugby never seen here before.
Officials say it is effectively a cup final and the greater the strength of home support, the more chance they will have of coming through.
Director of rugby Paul Colley and head coach Rob Lawrence say the squad is in good shape for the big game and can’t wait to get stuck in.
Colley said: “We’d like sports fans of any variety to lend their voices to support CRFC as we look to take the huge step from London one south to the national leagues.
“This is the culmination of ten months’ hard, hard work - in fact in my case ten long years to drive CRFC to reach their potential.
“In our proud 88-year history the blue and blue have never played above our current level. Many players, supporters and committee members have played their part in taking Chichester to this point with those behind the scenes doing vital work to make it a thriving and successful club.
“We are built on long-standing alligances and I’m proud to say the current first team are built on the bedrock of the mini and junior section - a truly sustainable platform.”
Colley said selecting the squad of 19 for Saturday had been tough as some who had played key roles over the season had to be left out.
“Even though we have several crucial players out with injury - none more so that stalwart tight-head Phil Veltom - the final team will be very difficlut to choose with so many good players putting their hand up for selection,” he added.
“Rob Lawrence and I have had many long discussions regarding the final squad. But we know that whatever team take the field on Saturday, they will do the whole of Chichester proud and play as a tribute to all of those who have gone before them and build the future for those to follow.
“Win, lose or draw, Saturday will be a remarkable day in the Blues’ history and we hope many people can come along to make the day even more memorable and to cheer us on to what we hope will be an historic victory.”
Lawrence said: “The pressure was on at Brighton, where we secured the points we needed for home advantage in this play-off at the very last moment.
“Now it’s win or bust. It needs to feel like the Gravesend game all over again, yet it’s even bigger. Every time we have had big tests put before us, the players have risen to the challenge - they have thrived on pressure.
“We are all together pulling in one direction and really, really believe it’s our time - I have believed that since the start of the season.
“Let’s hope we can bring National League glory to the club and city!”
Chichester finished second in London one south and face the runners-up from London one north for the last spot in next season’s National three south.
Eton Manor are strong and did the double over champions Westcliff - but a shock defeat at Ruislip deprived them of the top place. They lost a play-off at Basingstoke last season and will be determined to win this time.
They have a powerful pack and are miserly in defence, and believe their squad have improved. They are well-supported and a coachload will be arriving at to join several hundred home fans.
Supporters are urged to get to Oaklands Park well before the 3pm kick-off. There’ll be a bar and barbecue and a great family atmopshere.
See this website on Saturday for the outcome of the game - plus video highlights on Sunday