New Rocks keeper eyes up another Ryman premier title

The Rocks' new keeper Chris Winterton in action v Stoke   Picture by Chris Hatton
The Rocks' new keeper Chris Winterton in action v Stoke Picture by Chris Hatton
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NEW recruit Chris Winterton hopes to use his experience as a Ryman League title winner to help Bognor to the same level of success this season.

The 25-year-old goalkeeper has played for teams across the south during his career, including a spell as a professional at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Most recently, he wore the gloves for three years at Whitehawk during their rise from division one south of the Ryman League to the Skrill South.

“The first two years were back to back promotions, and last year we hung on by the skin of our teeth,” said Winterton. “It is quite nice to win things in football, Bognor have been close the past few seasons and they will want to keep pushing - it’s a great time to be here.

“I won this league with Whitehawk and want to help this side push the same way. It is going to be a tough season, it is a tough league and football is a funny game but there is no reason it can’t be us.”

Winterton sees his role in the Bognor team as important.

“Bognor want to play out from the back and that starts from me. They like to get the ball down and pass. The pitch at Whitehawk didn’t always allow it,” he said.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a better pitch than Bognor’s. I’ve played at the Amex and it is up there if not better than that. They (Bognor) want to play on the floor, they have some remarkable midfielders and that way of playing suits them

“A lot of goalkeepers used to be there just to save shots – now they’ve got to be good at distributing the ball and at crosses which is something I have confidence in doing.

“(The managers] Jamie and Dabba can see the potential in me and I want to repay them for that. Everyone has a lot of respect for them – they are tough managers but they want you to go out there and express yourself which is refreshing.”

Winterton let in six against a strong – and large – Pompey squad on Saturday but felt the team had acquitted themselves well enough. But he is looking forward to friendlies in which the Rocks can expect a fairer fight – including tonight’s (Jul 28) trip to Worthing.

“Pompey’s outfit was ridiculous – they used 23 or 24 players. We have 16 and couldn’t cope really,” Winterton said.

“But I would rather play those games because you have the challenge. It keeps me busy, rather then having a friendly where you have nothing to do.

“It was nice to play in front of a big crowd. I don’t think we embarrassed ourselves, we wanted to play good football and got a goal which is nice.

“Other games might give us the opportunity to kick the ball a bit more and work on going forward rather than defence.”

Winterton’s day job as a financial advisor in Eastbourne seems a far cry from Nyewood Lane, but he sees the benefit.

“I get to sit down all week and get rid of my energy at the weekend. Being a business man in a suit is a nice relaxing desk job, a lot of the players do trade jobs and I’m not sure how they manage to keep going, I am quite lucky,” he said.

Having first kicked a football aged nine, Winterton admitted he came ‘quite late’ to the game and started as a central midfielder.

“I got to about 13 but my dad was a goalkeeper as well and I think he was trying to push me that way. So I did a few local tournaments and enjoyed it.”

But it is not just a passion for this position he has inherited ... while Winterton isn’t the tallest goalie around he said: “If my dad was only five foot two we would have been in trouble.”