THE PEOPLE of the Bognor area are today urged to get behind the Rocks’ emerging bid for a glorious season - and help the club reach the next level.
The team have won six games in a row since exiting the FA Cup, scoring 18 goals in the process. And their latest victory has set up a mouth-watering second-versus-first Ryman premier clash at home to Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday.
With the Rocks flying in the league and making progress in the FA Trophy and Sussex Senior Cup, manager Jamie Howell is hoping to see numbers attending home games increase.
He points to the crowds of more than 1,000 that Dulwich sometimes attract as evidence of what can be achieved with strong local support for a non-league team.
Bognor have played 25 games already this season and have won 17 of them. They’ve scored 51 goals and are playing some terrifically-entertaining football.
Yet their average home league attendance is only 356 – compared to 412 for bottom-placed Lewes and 1,082 for Dulwich.
Howell and the rest of the management are appreciative of those who do turn up, but feels there are many more potential fans in the area who could be lured to the Lane.
“Saturday would be the ideal time to get a huge crowd,” he said. “It’s set up to be a cracking game between two teams really going well at the moment.
“We know what the atmopshere is like when there’s big numbers in our ground and, knowing that Dulwich will bring a lot down, it would be great to see everyone supporting us, including some new faces.
“I want Bognor to be a National League South club – I think that’s where we should be – and I asked Jack Pearce and the committee to back me in the summer when I wanted to bring in players like Jason Prior and others who could give us what we needed.
“So far those players have delivered, and I like to think the progress we have made in the FA Cup and FA Trophy is helping repay the faith the club have shown in the squad. We need to build on the momentum we have and part of that is wanting more people to watch us play and get involved in the club.”
Fans have also noted that Nyewood Lane attendances are not as high as they could be, with the sheer number of home matches – by they time they entertain Bath City in the FA Trophy on November 28, they will have played 15 home matches in 12 weeks.
Dave Robinson of the Rocks supporters’ club said on the fans’ messageboard: “As a club we are lucky to have a hardcore of supporters who follow the club no matter what. However we need to bring in more support to push the club on and bring more money into the club.”
Howell was delighted to see his side rack up two away wins in the past week, a 4-1 success at Southern League side Taunton in the Trophy and a windswept 1-0 league victory at Brentwood on Tuesday night.
Howell and coach Darin Killpartrick said the strong wind that ruined the Brentwood game made it the worst match they had seen in many years, and they were delighted under the circumstances to come away with three points, thanks to Ollie Pearce scoring direct from an 82-minute corner.
Conditions weren’t much better at Taunton, where the Rocks dug in well after going a goal down to a Grant Smith error early on to win well.
They have virtually a full squad to choose from for the Dulwich clash, although midfield man Dan Beck has a minor knee injury and Stuart Green is still feeling his way back to fitness after back and groin problems.
Bognor beat Dulwich 4-0 in last season’s corresponding fixture but Howell expects a tighter affair this time.
“That was possibly a freak result but they have strengthened very well this season and I’m pleased to see them doing well. If there was a team I could nominate to go up other than us, it would be Dulwich. We have a lot of a respect for their club and management team.”
Get the first report from Bognor v Dulwich on this website on Saturday evening
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!