Vets Cup HERO

Sussex Veteran's Challenge Cup Preview

Worthing Town vs. Rustington

The final of the Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup is set to be played on Sunday 7 April 2024 between Worthing Town and Rustington.

Worthing Town vs. Rustington
Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup Final
Date: Sunday 7 April 2024
Kick-off: 2:30pm
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9AX

It's been a first season to remember for Worthing Town manager, Ryan Dick, who’s side are on course for a potential treble at the first time of asking.

In their County Cup Final run, it was a story of clinical finishing from Dick’s side, who racked up 20 goals in their first three games.

“Definitely some comprehensive wins along the way that’s for sure,” said Dick, “they were tough games though and the scorelines do flatter us, because we simply just took all chances.

“The game at Montpellier Villa was the most challenging of that run, especially with them being in the league above us, but the boys got the job done and showed their quality.”

With a strong side at his disposal, Dick is fortunate to be able to call upon a number of key players, though such is the nature of the holidays, not all his players are available for the big game.

“A big blow to us is that our centre-back and captain, Kevin Ware, is away on holiday in Florida, and shockingly he hasn’t rearranged that trip so he can play in the Final,” said Dick.

“But our other centre-back, Adam Banfield, is a great player, very good on the ball, so he gives us a solid foundation from the back.

“Then you have the likes of Alex Biggs in midfield, who’s a classic box-to-box with loads of energy, just like Steve Bird who, for a vets player, is alarmingly quick, and probably covers more ground than the rest of the team combined!

“They’re all good lads, and a lot of them, like me, are playing their first season of vets football - I think only a handful of the side played last season, and the rest are made up of newbies like myself, and they’ve also been great across the campaign.”

For Dick, his involvement with Worthing Town is nothing new, having been a coach of a couple of the club's youth teams for a few years, such as the Under-7s side which his son plays for.

“With the vets team, that all started when I hit the magic number of 35, and the club asked if I’d be interested in joining as their manager,” said Dick.

“To be honest, the quality of games has certainly surprised me, because you look around and all the players have played county football at some level.

“Whilst the pace of the games might not be the quickest, when I look at the technical quality of a lot of my players, there’s no doubt that they could still do a job for a county team.

“The fact that in the league we’ve won it unbeaten, shows the quality of this team and just what they’re capable of.”

Looking ahead to the Final against Rustington, how does Dick see that one potentially playing out?

“Well in my time I’ve played in three finals and lost three finals, so I’ll be hoping to put that right come next weekend,” said Dick.

“But this one will be a challenging game, we know a fair few of their boys and what they’re about, so it’s definitely going to be a tight game.

“It could go either way, with them in the league above us and the quality of teams they normally play, they know what they’ve got to do to win these kinds of games.

“It’s been a long time since a lot of us played football, and for some of us it’s been over 10 years since our last final, and occasions like this are why we got back into football, so now it’s just about going out there and getting the reward for all our hard work!”

Sitting in the opposing dugout, is Rustington Manager, Michael Dorrington, who’s side enjoyed something of a free scoring run to the Final.

“We’ve got a really good squad this year, with a lot of players who’ve previously played at a County League level, and that’s been a real asset in these cup games,” said Dorrington.

“Our 5-3 win over Woodingdean Wanderers and our 6-1 win against Barnham Trojans show’s that we’ve got goals in this team.

“For us, the goals can come from anywhere really, because we’ve got players like Jordan Rhodes and Tom Donnelly who are great strikers who always seem to come up with the goods for us.”

Formerly Broadwater Athletic, Dorrington’s side have been together for three years now, and having won a treble in their first season together, found themselves in the Sussex Sunday Football League.

“Away from our cup run, it has been a difficult season in the league,” said Dorrington, “due to a number of factors, with player availability being a major one, we are currently bottom of the league, but that’s the nature of football, you can be riding high one year and then it can go the other way the next.

“But I don’t think the league reflects our standard, it just happens that the other four teams in the league are of a much higher quality and have the level of player we simply don’t have.”

What Dorrington does have in his side is a togetherness that comes from the fact that most of the players can count themselves among that first squad that was started up.

“Most of that core group are still signed on, and over the years we’re just continued to recruit players and keep building the team,” said Dorrington.

“We’re now in a position where the club was getting so much interest that we ended up setting up a second team to accommodate that demand.

“So going forward hopefully we can continue to build and develop and kick on into next season.”

Focusing on the Final next weekend, just what kind of test is Dorrington expecting from Worthing Town?

“A very tough test that’s for sure,” said Dorrington, “a lot of us know each other, so there won’t be any surprises, but they’re flying in Division Two so we know that they’ll come at us with everything they’ve got.

“They’re too good for the league they’re in, so it’s going to be a difficult game, but it’s one we’re looking forward to and hopefully get the result we’re after against them.”

With that in mind, what are Dorrington’s parting words to his players going to be before they walk out at Culver Road?

“If we win or lose it doesn’t matter, I just don’t want us to give up,” said Dorrington, “I want to see that fight and desire until the very end, no matter what happens in the game.

“When we started out, we were known as a team with a lot of fight and belief, and I want to see that again come the big day!”

Entry prices are as follows (Cash and Card accepted):

£5.00 Adult (17+)
£3.00 Concession (66+ and students with valid student ID card)
£1.00 Child (16 and under)
Official Match Day Programme will be available online

For further details about the Sussex Veterans Challenge Cup please contact:

T: 01903 753547

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