Tuesday 7th September 2021 ko 19:30
Southern Combination Peter Bentley Cup 2nd Round
WICK 3 (Gray 32 Kardos 58 Bull 76)
Programme online only
In my distant past I’m fairly sure I’d passed by Storrington Rec’. I suspect it was after staying at the Petworth Station hotel, where the rooms are converted “Pullman” carriages and breakfast is served in the former waiting room! As ever I made the mental note to go and see a game there and typically life got too busy and it all had to wait over a decade!
It must be said that Storrington isn’t the most straightforward of places to get to. A lot of what used to be the Sussex County League is accessed via either the A3 or the M23, but Storrington is found just off the A24 via Leatherhead and Dorking. It isn’t a quick drive down, not great for those such as me with limited time after work, but of course that slow drive is due to the beautiful South Downs, which of course is why the area is so sought after!
Storrington FC play at the back of the local sports centre and to can see all that’s right and wrong with the place within seconds of arrival there. On one hand the centre in an excellent hub for the village’s sport and many places would love somewhere like this. However if you’re the football club it does present challenges.
Take the entrance, and the sign “Right of way.” I know Longwell Green Sports managed to divert a public footpath in order to full enclose their ground but I also know just how difficult it is to get that done. Of course that has a knock-on effect in terms of ground grading and you see the issues on other places too, the seated stand is set back a substantial way back from the pitch side rail so if you want to sit, and have a good view of the game, then take a blanket and sit on the grass banking. You will of course hope for good weather! You do get the impression that if Storrington were to be promoted from the Step 6 Southern Combination Division One, then the ground as it is would become a real issue for them.
But perhaps that’s missing the point a little. The fact of the matter is that what’s here is an excellent community-based club so why force a club to provide facilities they probably don’t need. And without being nasty to them, in the short-term promotion doesn’t look that likely.
This game demonstrated the point well. Few people can claim to have done more for Sussex football than Peter Bentley so the Southern Combination naming their league cup in his memory is a fitting tribute. This was, any measure a local derby but Storrington have made a poor start to the season, and it was clear that the team’s confidence was fragile. Sadly from the moment Gray opened the scoring for the visitors those there watched Storrington’s confidence deflate like a balloon with a slow puncture. They tried, and frankly it all became quite painful to watch as everything they tried failed and Wick found the means to punish their errors.
I can’t pretend that the result was anything other than realistic and I’m sure those involved will understand that and hopefully the club’s fortunes will improve soon. Storrington have maintained Senior football since 2005, so a return to the SCL’s third tier and the intermediate game should be avoided if at all possible. I wish them well.