AN army of well over 1,100 Rocks fans are expected to flock to the Amex Stadium for their showcase Sussex Senior Cup final against the young Seagulls on Saturday.
Bognor are all set to take on the Brighton & Hove Albion development squad at the state-of-the-art Championship ground with hope of lifting a piece of prestigious Sussex silverware in front of a bumper crowd.
On Wednesday, sales for the Bognor section of the crowd had reached 1,100 although more were expected to sell, with tickets still available to purchase up until match-day.
Rocks fans and players are all being told to quite simply enjoy the day, because they all deserve it.
After a difficult season on their return to the Ryman Premier, which has been blighted with a huge and rentlentless string of injuries, Rocks have been rewarded with an end-of-season spectacular which coach Darin Killpartrick has described as a magnificent, and deserved opportunity.
The Rocks camp have stressed the importance of enjoying the day to their players, but also to remember the Senior Cup is at stake.
Killpartrick said: “Obviously, I am extremely excited and I think it’s a magnificent thing for this football club after what we have achieved this year.
“With all the injuries we have had, to get to the final I am extremely proud, especially of all the young players at the club.
“I am so pleased for all the fans they really deserve things like this as they have been great this year.
“I am obviously really pleased for the players as well as, after all, it’s not everyday you get to play at The Amex.
“We have got to enjoy every part of the day, but it’s one of them – a game of football we want to win and should be played in the way and right spirit.
“We will conduct ourselves in the way we always do as we are proud of ourselves and an honest club.
“It’s important to remember we are in a game against an excellent opposition. They will pass and move to a very high standard so it’ll be a very difficult game for us.”
Although, for Killpartrick the league is always priority, he is really relishing the coming weekend.
He added: “Play-off games will always be the biggest game for me from a selfish point of view as a manager and coach. But, as a bonus at the end of a season, you can’t ask for more than a Senior Cup final, especially against opposition such as Brighton.”
The squad will be training tonight where Bognor will assess the fitness of key players Dan Beck, James Crane and Jon Marzetti, although Rocks boss Jamie Howell is hopeful the trio will make it.
Crane and Marzetti are hoping to have fully recovered from foot injuries, while Beck is returning from ankle ligament damage.
Howell said: “We’ll have a better indication on Thursday night. They have had a bit of rest and I think they’re going to be ok, but you never really know until you get out there and start striking balls. I’m hopeful they’ll all be able to make it through, though.
“I think, to be honest, we’re all experienced enough and we realise it’s a great opportunity to play in a fantastic stadium and it should be a great day out as well.
“I have seem them play and they have a very impressive development squad with a lot of quality and experience. They are very comfortable on the ball and, as a club, have a lovely style of play right up from the youth team to their senior team.
“The way we play is a good style of football and obviously Brighton do too, so for a neutral it should be a really good game and we’re all just really looking forward to it.
“We are really looking forward to getting out there and playing. After a little bit of a rest, the guys are looking forward to playing again already, and want to get out there and achieve their part in a spectacle.”
It is the third time the final of the competition has been held at Brighton’s ground and to seal their spot in the last two, Rocks overcame Selsey, Eastbourne United, Eastbourne Borough and Hastings.
Albion will be looking to make it five Sussex Senior Cup triumphs in seven years, whereas the Rocks will be looking for redemption after they were runners-up to Brighton in 2010
Rocks commercial manager Maurice Warner said: “We’ll have a good few there. The majority of tickets have gone, but they’re still selling in dribs and drabs.
“Tickets are available from the club on Thursday and Friday between 10am and midday, and they’ll be available on the day at the ground.”
Tickets on the day will be available at The Amex up until 1pm. Kick-off is 3pm.