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Tuesday 2nd November 2021 ko 19.45

Sussex R.U.R. Cup 2nd Round

WORTHING UNITED 0

SELSEY 4 (Burns 6 North 17 O Clarke 65 J Clarke 90)

Att 35

Entry £6

Groundhopping does bring up some quirks and Worthing United for me was one of them. I’ve visited all but a handful of the Southern Combination’s grounds across the league’s 3 divisions, but somehow never watched Worthing United home or away, even to the point of visiting the “other” teams in the town Worthing FC and Worthing Town (Leisure) in the past. I suspect part of the reason was that an evening trip to Worthing is on the limits of where I can get to after work, and yes England’s motorways do need to co-operate which for once they did!

Sadly you can’t talk about Worthing United without mentioning the Shoreham Air Crash in 2015. You pass by the site on the A27 and two Worthing United players Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt were killed on their way to play a home game at Lyons Way. The stand being named after them is a fitting tribute, and so is the display in the clubhouse. 

The ground itself is named The Robert Albon Memorial Ground after the club’s former secretary who died in 2013. And its the ground that you’ll remember, as it evokes plenty of other Sussex grounds. I found myself thinking of Peacehaven & Telescombe with both grounds tucked away against the South Downs at the back of their towns. On the other hand the grass banking reminds you of Lewes’ Dropping Pan Ground, and that’s one I really need to re-do, and not just because Robyn hasn’t been there yet. 

United’s home is an atmospheric place, and one I’m pleased Robyn captured so well, not least because I had an off-night with my camera! The game was a R.U.R. game; the name stands for the Royal Ulster Rifles; the regiment presented the trophy to the Sussex FA in 1897 after the regimental side the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles won the Sussex Senior Cup, Brighton Shield, Charity Cup and Vernon Wentworth Cup in 1895/6 and were recognised as ‘Sussex Champions’, with the trophy seen as a mark of their achievements.

These days a third of all gate receipts from the matches played in the competition go to the SCFA Benevolent Fund for injured players, and stands as means of finding in effect the best football team in Sussex each year. Back in the day the cup was indivisible from the old Sussex County League, so since now non Sussex clubs are in the league, the cup seems to have gained more of its own identity. 

Sadly for Worthing United they had an evening to forget against fellow Division One (Step 6) outfit Selsey.  A mixture of injury and at times inexperience saw the visitors quickly get a hold of the game, and once they did at no point did they look like letting their grip loosen. In the end the final goal, caused by a suicidal intercepted back pass summed up the hosts evening.

I walked back to the car with mixed feelings. You cannot help but think of the tragedy that befell this club 6 years ago, and the fact that they’re still here, speaks volumes as to their character and values. The ground has atmosphere by the bucketload, so on that basis it was a crying shame Robyn and I caught them on such a bad night for them. At least though Robyn had an excellent night with her camera!