We Go Again
It's come round again quickly hasn't it? Just 42 days on from that dramatic, promotion winning afternoon at Meadowbank, Dorking will begin pre-season preparations for their inaugural National League Premier campaign this Saturday with a visit to Roffey FC. This friendly will be a charity match with all proceeds going to the Mind mental health charity.
Officially back in training earlier this week, manager Marc White will no doubt look to get the distribution of match minutes and build up of fitness just right across his entire squad as Saturday's pre-season opener begins a busy week of preparations. League 2's Sutton United will visit Meadowbank just a few days later on Tuesday evening, ahead of the much-anticipated announcement of the National League fixtures taking place on Wednesday and an open training session for supporters being held at Meadowbank on Thursday evening.
For Wanderers supporters the nearby trip down to Sussex will be the first opportunity to see summer signings Jack Jebb, Adam Mekki and Ryan Seager in red and white. Marc White confirmed in his live update broadcast earlier today that Dan Lincoln has now re-signed for next season as well, so we may also see the stopper back in action in the upcoming games. Roffey FC - Interview with manager Andy Lampard Roffey also created their own history last season. As winners of the Southern Combination League Division One (Step 6), the Sussex side will now play in the Southern Combination Premier Division (Step 5) for the first time ever next season. Former Wanderers player and friend of the club Andy Lampard has been at the heart of Roffey's recent success both as a player and manager. Ahead of Saturday's fixture we spoke to Andy about his career so far with Roffey, managing the team to the league title last season and reflecting on his time with Wanderers. Thank you Andy for taking the time to speak to us. If we can start by looking back at when you first got involved with Roffey? "I played at Roffey for about 3 or 4 years, and from day one of being there I fell in love with the club. I played for them during a successful period as we progressed through the mid to upper Sussex leagues around 2008/2009, part of the team that got the club into the County leagues for the first time in their history. Having been on that journey with them I stepped away and continued to play at County 2 and County 3 levels elsewhere" How did you then get started in football coaching? "After a period out of the game I completed my Level 1 coaching badge in 2016. Naturally, my first port of call was to get in contact with Roffey. I coached the reserves team during the 2016/17 campaign, and was then offered the first team coaching role at the end of that season. We got the team promoted to senior football in the 2018-19 season, entering the Southern Combination League Division One (Step 6). We then had the two Covid-hit seasons of course, and along with the club adjusting to the new level off the field there was a bit of a 'feeling out' period for us ahead of going into the 2021/22 season" Many congratulations on winning the league last year and gaining promotion to the Southern Combination Premier Division (Step 5). Reflecting back on the campaign, what do you think were the keys to the club's success? "We made winning the league the aim ahead of the season starting and, although I didn't tell too many people, I was confident we would get it done. Making sure we delivered good coaching to every player and committing to our positive style of play has been key for us, even if others along the way said you can't win this league playing good football! We built and developed the team by adding players with experience of success at this level, mixing them with our stronger players from the curtailed Covid seasons. The biggest focus of recent seasons for me has been getting the right personalities into the football club. It's all well and good when things are going right but how are players going to react when it maybe isn't going so well or they are asked to do things they don't want to do? Getting the right personalities in has been really important" How are preparations going for next season? "There will have been this massive euphoria for the players at the end of last season, enjoying promotion and looking forward to the summer break but from the manager's point of view your thinking, 'Oh, I've got to immediately start making preparations for next year!'. We are an ambitious club and don't want to sit still. The demands on our boys will of course be higher, a couple of the older lads in the group will move on but the aim will be to retain the nucleus of the squad and add a few new additions" Going back to your time at Wanderers - how did you get involved with the club? "I made a handful of appearances in the very first season for the club back in 1999. I would have only been 17/18 at the time, a young age to be involved in the Crawley & District League. We certainly witnessed plenty of drama, fight's and sending's off back in those days! Over the years I came and went but I did have a 3 to 4 year spell with the club in the last years playing at Brockham Big Field. I helped Marc, Jez and everyone else at the club at that time build Westhumble and played for the club in the first season there"
What position did you play in at Wanderers?
"I was a striker. You would need to double check this with Marc but I think I must have scored over 100 goals for the club in my time there!"
Looking back, are there any particular moments that stand out from your time at Wanderers? "We were like the new kids on the block in those Sussex years and going to these established teams and 'steamrolling' them was an amazing thing to be part of. Winning the leagues and the promotions was of course brilliant, but we had some amazing times off the field as well, particularly with the end of season parties. Everyone being given a fancy-dress costume as a Christmas present was something that ran for a few years, one year I got given the outfit those blokes on the old 118-118 advert wore! The bond in the changing rooms and off the field was special though, almost like a 'crazy gang' atmosphere. If you had any sort of reputation for anything you were very quickly given an appropriate nickname which would of course stick immediately! That spirit and togetherness is the benchmark for what we are trying to achieve with Roffey. Like we talked about earlier - strong, positive personalities at a football club will play a big part in achieving success" Mind Charity Saturday's friendly is a charity match with all proceeds going to mental health charity Mind. Founded in 1946 as the National Association for Mental Health (NAMH), the name of the charity was changed to Mind in 1972. The aim of the charity is to provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. "We won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect. We believe no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. We'll listen, give you support and advice, and fight your corner" - Mind There's a network of around 125 local Minds across England and Wales that offer specialised support and care based on the needs of the communities they support. To find out more information about Mind please visit https://www.mind.org.uk/ Key Info For Saturday's Game Location: Bartholomew Way, Horsham, RH12 5SL Gates & Bar Open: 12pm Entry: Donation to Mind suggested £7, £4 (cash preferred, no advance tickets are onsale) Programmes: £1 Parking: Onsite Train: Nearest station is Littlehaven (approx 20 minute walk)
With thanks to Ollie & James