THE ROCKS have parted company with another FOUR players – but the big summer rebuild has begun in earnest.
Fans have been stunned by the departure of last season’s top scorer Terry Dodd to Lewes and winger Arron Hopkinson to Skrill South side Farnborough.
In addition, the club have revealed that midfield duo Scott Chamberlain and Dan Kempson won’t be part of things next season.
But they have announced their first two potential signings – with the promise of more to come.
The latest players leaving the club follow skipper Kane Wills and centre-half Stuart Axten through the Nyewood Lane exit and leave the management with more major gaps to fill in their jigsaw.
Dodd’s move is the biggest surprise. He had scored an impressive 71 goals in 112 starts and 35 appearance from the bench – with 35 of those goals coming last season.
He has moved to the Rocks’ Ryman premier rivals Lewes and said on Twitter: “It is with regret that Bognor FC and I have both agreed it is time for me to move on and leave the club!
“I would like to say thank you to everyone at the club especially the fans that have supported me (through) the good and the bad times.”
Rocks manager Jamie Howell said he could understand fans being concerned at the number of players leaving but they were all doing so for valid and different reasons and work to replace them was progressing nicely.
The club will welcome back left-back Matt Whitehead for pre-season, when they will also look at former Worthing and Peacehaven midfielder Jamie Crellin.
They are also talking to a number of other new recruits who they are close to tying down.
Howell said: “Terry had a good offer from Lewes and there was no falling-out with him. I think he and the club decided maybe the time was right for him to move on. He’s served us well and we wish him all the best.
“The same goes for Arron Hopkinson. He’s been offered the chance to move up a division with Farnborough and wants to take it. He’s been good and we part on good terms.”
Hopkinson told the Observer he was grateful to the club’s management and fans for the chances and support they’d given him in his year at Bognor.
The 22-year-old, who is also hoping to impress at a trial with League Two champions Chesterfield, said: “My time at Bognor helped me improve and it’s been one of the best spells of my career. It was a great season but a shame we didn’t win anything in the end.
“It was a pleasure to play in the team and be at a club I’d say is unique in non-league in terms of how it’s run.”
Howell said Chamberlain had decided trips to Bognor for training and games from his base in Eastbourne, where he lives and works, were too much, while Kempson, who is at university, was set to play for Littlehampton next season.
The manager said: “This happens in football. Players move on and sometimes a number go at once. The ones we’ve lost have gone for valid reasons and there’s no hidden agenda.
“One factor is that we don’t have bundles of money to keep and attract top players but that’s not new. We won’t spend what we don’t have. We will try to recruit good players and bring through local young talent and coach them to our way of playing.
“If we had a game tomorrow and everyone was fit, we’d still be able to put out a good side. And by the time the season starts, we’ll have a decent squad.”
* The club have updated their list of confirmed friendlies:
Tuesday 15 July Stoke City XI KO. 7.45pm (Home)
Saturday 19 July Portsmouth (first team) KO. 1pm (Home)
Tuesday 22 July Reading XI KO 7.45pm (Home)
Friday 25 July AFC Portchester KO 7.30pm (Away)
Wednesday 30 July Whitehawk KO 7.45pm (Home)