Harvey Whyte is champing at the bit to prove Bognor can bounce back from a disastrous season in the National League South which ended with the Rocks suffering relegation.
Versatile Whyte, who turns 27 in August, believes there is every reason to think the Rocks can put the pain of going down behind them as they prepare for a new campaign in Bostik Premier Division.
Bognor have lost the services of James Crane and Sami El Abd, with the former signing for south coast rivals Worthing. Rocks will come up against the Woodside Road outfit in the league, and can also look forward to Sussex derbies against Burgess Hill, Whitehawk and Lewes.
The club have already secured the services of Whyte along with Calvin Davies, Keaton Wood, Chad Field and Tommy Scutt ahead of the new season.
Jack Pearce, who stepped in to manage the club following the departure of Jamie Howell to Eastbourne and El Abd’s brief stint as boss, says the club is continuing to remain open-minded regards the hotseat. And he says he hopes to be able to confirm a commitment from more players from last term’s squad soon, as well as announcing the recruitment of some new faces.
Yet despite demotion and the uncertainty surrounding the role of manager, Whyte feels there is still a lot to be positive about.
He said: “Players will come and go, and that is up to them. You can’t blame players who want a change, perhaps earn more money somewhere else. We saw it with Alfie Rutherford and Jason Prior, when they went to Havant. And fair play to them.
“But I just love Bognor. I love the football we try to play – and above all I want to move on from last season. Obviously, there is going to be lots of talk about whether Jack is going to be the manager, and that will be sorted one way or another. But all I want to do is play and repay the fans for their loyalty by having a decent season.
“If you look at the players we’ve signed so far, it is very encouraging. I think Calvin Davies could one day be a professional and he’s a big signing. He’s technically gifted – all that might hold him back is his height!
“Though I would never tell him to his face, Chad Field has impressed me and I think he is only going to get better. Then you have Keaton, who is still only 23 but he has shown such maturity and again, I think he has a bright future ahead of him.”
Bognor lost the services of Darin Killpartrick after calling time on 18 years as coach and player and nearly 1,000 games. And Whyte says not having Dabba around the club will be strange.
He added: “I’ve learned so much from Dabba in the years since I left Havant, especially technically. So, yes, it is undoubtable he’ll be missed. But we have to move on and try to regroup and get on with it.
“Jack has taken a lot of stick and he is the manager and we have gone down so he can’t escape that. But some of the personal abuse he has been given is totally out of order. He is a football man through and through and to my mind deserves respect.”
Whyte will take his eye off the ball until pre-season training starts in June and is heading off to Ibiza for a sunshine break.
He said: “I’m going to kick back a bit and relax and I am looking forward to the break. But I can assure our supporters my mind will be fully focused on the job in hand come pre-season and the start of the season. And I hope our fantastic supporters are behind us once more and we do them proud.”