During these strange times, when so much of what we consider our ordinary lives is on hold, we are all missing our weekly fixes of watching the Hornets and visits to our new home at Hop Oast.
So, this seems a good time to recognise the efforts of our numerous volunteers who give up their time and energy to ensure that HFC not only survives but thrives, and that we can all safely return to enjoy live football in the not-too-distant future.
Firstly, we want to recognise our matchday volunteers. You will have seen many of them on your visits to the ground; helping you park your car, directing you to the turnstiles, taking your gate money, completing COVID checks, selling you programmes and club merchandise, staffing the horse box, and keeping everyone safe during the game.
There are many others behind the scenes who you may not notice, but who nevertheless play their part in matchdays. They may be providing refreshments for officials and visitors in the Boardroom, acting as the matchday announcer, editing the matchday programme, selling sponsorship deals, ensuring our website is up to date or managing the club’s involvement in community initiatives.
Many of them are club committee members, but other fans have come to help out, all purely for their love of the club.
Shaun Scott, a committee member, said: “As a match official who visited HFC at both Queen Street and Gorings Mead, I was always impressed with how welcoming, hospitable, and friendly the club was. When I joined the volunteer force I wanted to be part of continuing that legacy.”
Chris Holmes, one of our matchday volunteers, added: “I’m a firm believer that when you have an interest in something, something that you’d always want to be there to be enjoyed, it is important to do what you can to help ensure that happens and influence it in some way.
“When the club moved into our new stadium I felt the time was right to get more involved and to do what I can in my own sweet way!”
One of our longest standing committee members and volunteers, and someone known to almost everyone who attends games at the Hop Oast is Roger Charman.
“I was first involved with HFC when my sons, Paul and Gary, (and Howard Frogley’s son Martin) played for Horsham Sparrows, which was associated with the club. They then played for HFC reserves and I sometimes ran the line.
“The HFC Chairman asked me to join the committee, and Howard and I started running the bar at Queen Street.
“After the old ground was sold, I put on my steward’s jacket to help out, and that is what I do today; greeting fans, doing COVID checks and sorting the parking. The matchday volunteers are a great team, and I really enjoy it”.
Secondly, we want to recognise all those volunteers who help with our youth sides. The club has eight youth sides ranging from Under 11s up to Under 18s, achieving FA Charter status every year since 2006.
Ably lead by Annie and Ivan Raby for the last 17 years, the youth section currently boasts 23 managers and coaches, plus parent volunteers who assist on matchdays. We spoke to some of them, asking just why they volunteer.
Mark Hawthorne, under 18s manager, said: “I enjoy helping and developing young players; we feel happy and comfortable at Hop Oast, meeting new people and making friends.”
Meanwhile, under 18s physio Harry added: “The best part of volunteering is the community aspect. The general relationships I have developed with the coaches, the players, and other members of the club have been great – seeing everyone is the main thing I looked forward to.”
Jamie Irving, under 11s coach commented: “I joined the HFC youth coaching team in 2020, so I’m the newest member of the team and although my time at Horsham FC has been very short, I must say that the support and guidance is the best I’ve had in my time as a coach.”
“We have had so many highs for a team that is still in its infancy, from winning big games to reaching tournament finals. However, the best moment so far was at my birthday in November. All the boys composed a video wishing me happy birthday; it brought a small (only very small!) tear of happiness to my eye.
Lee Maquire, coach of the U16s continued: “The opportunity came about to work at the club’s new facility, with players I have worked with for 7 years, so I could not say no. As a coach, I volunteer to make memories and to develop players with potential. With my group at HFC, I push them to be the best they can.”
Matt Ayling, joint manager of the U14s, said: “I feel really proud and privileged to be one of the youth coaches.
“Having grown up and lived around Horsham all my life, it’s, in my opinion, the top club that I could coach at.
The facilities are second to none and the youth set-up has a great team spirit with a clear joint approach to developing local young talent, hopefully producing players for the future who can play for the first team.”
Ken Osbourne, also joint manager of the U14s, added: “I love everything about the club; it’s run as a community club with fantastic A1 facilities. I really don’t think we realise how lucky we are!”
We will celebrate even more of our amazing volunteers in part two, which will be posted tomorrow, however if you already feel inspired to join our growing number of volunteers, we would love to hear from you!
Although the club enjoys support from many volunteers in a number of different areas, there is always room for more. If you have considered getting more involved with the club, and would like to explore how you could volunteer, we have a wide range of opportunities.
We are sure we can find a role to suit you, and you can be certain of a warm welcome! If you are interested, please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
Main picture: Two of our matchday volunteers, Sue and Jim Bravery