Just ten days after announcing the departure of right-hand man Ross Standen, Dom Di Paola has revealed he is set to be reunited with his old pal Adam Westwood when the club returns from lockdown.
‘Wezzo’ played a significant role in bringing about an upturn in the Hornets’ fortunes when he and Dom took over the managerial reins in April 2015, helping to transform a side doomed to relegation to the County League into a competitive Isthmian League Premier Division outfit.
His decision to step away from things in April this year came as a shock to many but now he’s back and can’t wait to get started again.
“I needed to get away from things” he admitted. “I never left to take another job in football, in fact I didn’t even dip my toe in anything like that to be honest.
“It was a tough decision to step away because Dom and I had been together for eleven years, but we’d had a lot of games in a short space of time and I just felt I needed a break because things were getting a bit on top of us all. Work also contributed to the decision and although I worked right throughout the first lockdown, I managed to play golf three or four times a week so it was really relaxing.
“Horsham is a club that will always be in my heart and Dom and I spoke every couple of days during that time but it wasn’t until I started coming along to watch the matches this season that I realised just how much I missed being involved. Going to the ground on a matchday as a supporter is totally different experience to what I was used to because when you’re assistant-manager, manager, or whatever, you don’t realise what actually goes on outside as you don’t normally have time to stop, you just get into the ground early on and get on with things.
“When you come as a fan, you see all the supporters, the stewards, you get to have a chat with them and see all the hard work that goes into the whole day and I guess it was seeing all of that that made me realise how much I missed it all. Anyone who has seen me at games will know that I’ve kicked and headed every ball from the sidelines so it will be nice to be back among it again.”
Despite his attendances at the Hop Oast this season, Adam admits that it was never his intention to rejoin the management team. “Dom and I agreed that Ross would be the right person to take over once I left and I’ve always made a conscious effort to stand out of the way when I’ve been to a game as I didn’t want him to feel he was under any pressure with me stood behind the dug-outs, or that I was looking to come back because that was furthest from my mind.
“After Ross left, Dom rang me and we talked about me coming back and I’m ready for the challenge. It should be like slipping back into an old pair of slippers. It’s the longest I’ve been out of the game since I’ve been involved in football but I’ve had a great rest, I feel refreshed, and I can’t wait for lockdown to be over so I can get started again.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Dom. “The last four or five months of last year were massively stressful. It had been a pretty relentless three years since we’d got back into the Isthmian League so it was a good time for Wezzo to have a breather, and I don’t blame him because football can eat you up sometimes.
“He’s one of my best friends and although we’ve had good and bad days between us over the years, we work well together and it’s important that I have someone alongside me that I can trust. It was tough losing him after working together for so many years but he’s had a chance to reflect and will come back with a different mindset.
“He brings things to the table that I don’t and is always well-liked by the boys, which is very important, and with Ross going back to Whitehawk, I think this will work out really well.”