The final of the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup is due to take place on Thursday 17 February 2022 between Woodingdean Wanderers and AFC Chichester.
Woodingdean Wanderers vs. AFC Chichester
Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup Final
Date: Thursday 17 February 2022
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX
The Sunday Challenge Cup returns with Sussex Sunday Football League (SSFL) side, Woodingdean Wanderers, who sit second in the Premier Division, facing AFC Chichester who are top of the West Sussex & District Sunday Football League Division 1.
The final is all the more sweet for Woodingdean player-manager, Thai Beebee, who has been involved with the club since a young age.
“I've been involved with Woodingdean since I was a kid and coached my brother's team with my dad who is also the chairman.
“Together we coached that for a few years and once that finished I realised I had missed out on key playing years myself.
“The opportunity where I am now come up because a few of my mates were playing and I just decided to come back and play whilst coaching as well.
“We are quite a competitive bunch and the core of our team are friends from school. As we've gone on we've added players here and there and on our day I believe we're the best in our league.”
That competitive spirit from Thai is echoed throughout his team and bringing the trophy home has been a priority.
“We're excited and all the boys excited, we're ready to go. We're definitely competing in our league and are in with a chance of winning it. We've dropped a few silly points this year, but the aim is to come away with two trophies.
“I can't remember how far we got last year. We had a great result against BN Dons, but I can't remember who we lost to.
“In my view it is the competition to win. We are buzzing for it and we haven't shipped a goal yet. All our games have been away, and we are right up for this.
“The 3G pitch will definitely suit us. We have played at Lancing a few times, but the cup final occasion is obviously something a bit more special.
“Everyone is raring it go, and it'll be a great night I'm sure. It's one of them where you're obviously thinking positive, but you just want it to be a good night.”
Woodingdean are going in blind against AFC Chichester having not played them before, but Thai believes that could be a blessing.
“They play in the West Sussex League, so we don't know a lot about them and haven't played them before. Although it's a final, it's just another game in terms of how we setup.
“We don't know anything about Chichester and they probably don't know a lot about us but in a way that makes it a bit easier because we just focus on ourselves and if we do that I'm confident we'll get the result.
“As soon as we turn up, the first message is block everything else out and focus on the pitch. You have to block out the outside noise because there is going to be a lot of it.”
AFC Chichester manager, Charley Hammond, on the other hand, has been to watch his opponents ahead of the final.
"We played our semi-final before they did so I was fortunate to be able to go and watch theirs but I don't know how much that told me because it was on a boggy pitch and they played against 10 men for a large part. It was interesting to watch them and from what I've seen it'll be a good game."
Charley has been on quite the journey with Chi, having taken over as manager at the start of the 2011/12 season. Since then they've won everything available to them with the Sunday Cup the sole competition they are yet to prosper with.
"When playing in the Chichester league we won everything multiple times but the one thing that eluded us was the County Cup. We've lost in three semi-finals in six years. After the league stopped due to the pandemic, we had a two-year hiatus.
"During lockdown, the lads were keen to get back and play so we joined the West Sussex League last season and bar an end to it due to another lockdown, we needed just two points from our final four games to win the league.
"Due to an administration error, we were unable to enter this competition last season which was disappointing but it makes us even more determined.
"It's the one everyone wants to win and I know everyone is buzzing to get going. I think the pitch should really suit us and I think it'll be a really good final with two good teams."
Lastly, he told us of his teams chances in the final and how they've achieved their previous success: "We see ourselves as a footballing team, we try and get the ball down and play so I think the pitch will really benefit us, I'm just hoping we get used to it quick!
"There's no secret to the success, we're just a bunch of mates that have been together for quite a few years and recently we've added some younger players which is a good mix.
"I think they'll be okay out there on the night, I think there'll be nerves but nerves are good and I know they'll be buzzing to get into the game."
Entry prices for the final are as follows:
£6.00 Adult (17+)
£4.00 Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card)
FREE Child (16 and under)
£1.50 Official Match Day Programme
For further details about the Sussex Sunday Challenge Cup please contact Competitions:
T: 01903 753547