BHTFC in the Diary 2024  

Season 2023/4 is now moving at great pace and before we know it commentators will be coming out with the immortal line ‘it’s the business end!’

However, as we move effortlessly into spring across the Mid Sussex region, we thought it time to update you all with bits and pieces that have happened over the mid-winter. Welcome to part two of Hillian Buzz BHTFC in Diary.   16th January through to 29th February 2024.

Bright Sunshine and ice give way to Rain and Wind.

The South East of England enjoyed a real settled post New Year outlook with bags of wonderful sunshine lighting the skies but sometimes with deep frost on the ground.

16/01/2024   Frozen pitch see’s Cray postponed but U18s Travelled to 4G Woodside Road.

Owing to very cold weather and icy conditions our Isthmian South encounter v Cray Valley never really stood a chance and a very practical and early decision was made.  It meant that all eyes turned to the Sussex coast as our Manager Gary Mansell took the U18s to Worthing FC for an Isthmian Youth Cup Quarter Final.  With several Alliance (Ray, George and I)and a horde of Mums and Dads (and Adam Hinshelwood) watching on both teams treated us to real spectacle evening. New 1st team recruit Joseph Overy nearly won the tie with an 80 min curling shot which looked destined for the far corner. Unfortunately, it hit the inside of the upright and rolled to safety. Nil nil full time.  There was heart break for the Hillian’s as Worthing took the resulting penalty shootout.

Not the result we wanted but Mansell said later ‘I was very proud of the lads we played really well against a very good side!’

20/01/2024 Weather Beats trip to Merstham but Scouting Done by Fans.

We woke up to a beautiful sunny match day and all eyes focused on Merstham FC. Unfortunately, all hopes of a match were quickly dashed as news filtered in that the pitch hadn’t passed its 11am inspection. Not deterred fans made their way to other grounds here in Sussex to pacify their football fix.  Some ventured off to watch our next opponents Beckenham as they suffered a heavy loss at Chichester. Some went to Steyning for a strong home win. Ray Smith and I decided on the shorter road trip to Lancing where it was 2nd v 3rd in the Isthmian South East.  Cray Valley immerged one nil away victors in an exciting encounter. They go eight away wins for eight in the Isthmian South East. It can be revealed that Cray are very resilient and tough as old boots. They give nothing away and will be hard to beat when we play them.

21/01/2024   Under 12s Give it Everything in County Cup Quarter Final loss. As storm Isha approaches

In our first mention, many to come, of the BHTFC Junior Section we caught up with our fearless U12s who were playing Horsham in the County Cup quarter final on grass at Burgess Hill Academy.  They play nine v nine over two 30 min halves with smaller goals.  With a very keen breeze sweeping across the pitch under leaden skies a hugely competitive fixture unfolded. The home team bossed the early exchanges with some neat passing down the channels.  However, it was the visitors who got their noses in front on 20 mins as their centre forward outpaced the back four to slot past the on-rushing keeper.  In a ‘robust’ 2nd half neither side wanted to give an inch leading to some fierce tackles.  Chances were hard to come by as both keepers were untroubled. In the final min Hill managed to load the box as a well hit free kick speered towards the goal. It was heartbreak for our youngsters as the ball cannoned off a Horsham foot to safety. The ref blowing up just moments later.   Under 12s Manager Lee said ‘I am very proud of the boys they are a joy to manage. Horsham got the goal, but we stuck to the task and never gave up. Perhaps we just came up a little bit short on the day’.

Our U12s side are just a mere hint of a myriad of talent and activity happening in our Junior Section.  We will be bringing you more in due course.

22/01/24  U18s Hit Eastbourne Borough for Six.  Isthmian South Youth.

Scoring sensation Alex Brewer scored four goals as our U18s ran out six one victors on the road.  The first a tremendous right foot thunderbolt the last a very pleasing ‘poachers’ goal’ after a keeping error.  This win has put the squad in the title race after eight of 18 games now played.  They go to top of the league Worthing on 30th Jan 2024 with confidence high.

23/01/24 Clean Sheet at Beckenham in teeth of storm Jocelyn as Hill score 4.  South East 29 points 10th place.

As a strong wind barrelled across Eden Park Dan Perry headed Hill into an early lead.  New keeper Toby Bull (20) played with skill and intelligence to keep Becks at bay during the half. The second half saw Hill ease to three points as youngers Harry and Noah scored ‘poachers’ goals. The win was sealed on 90 mins when Perry rounded the keeper and slotted into an empty net.

It was a brilliant evening for the 30 or so travelling supporters especially as the club had moved up into the top half of the Isthmian South East.

Mansell said later ‘we were really pleased with how Noah and Dan had positioned themselves for their goals it was something we were working on. Toby’s distribution is out of this world, and I am delighted with a clean sheet mid-week on the road’

24/01/24 Five Aside Pitch Update.  Work Ongoing

As mentioned in the previous addition the aim is to breath new life into our fenced off 5 a side pitch. Five of our Monday morning squad were hard at work clearing another segment of the ground of weeds, brambles, leaves, and moss.  Its quite hard work but Head of Operations Tommy M is determined to see the job through.

27/01/24 Martyn Box on the Spot v Horndean in a good win.   South East  32 points 9th Place.

Saturday 27th January turned into a very successful day for BHTFC under sunny skies and mild temperatures. Several Alliance members toiled for an hour on the 5 a side pitch and a proportion of it was open for use during the afternoon. The new managers office in the clubhouse complete with a resplendent sponsors board was fully operational.  Just a mere hint of the ‘can do’ attitude around this club right now.

On the pitch Horndean came to battle for every blade of grassin a physical game.  In an encounter which proved there is no easy game in the Isthmian South East all players had to work extremely hard to get any type of foothold.  With the Alliance whipped into a frenzy and baying for a winner the magic happened on 88 mins.  A corner was swung in from the right and a melee ensued. It ended with the keeper making a foul on Harry and the ref awarded a penalty to Hill.  Local lad Martyn Box cooly stepped up and duly won three points for the teamone nil sending 400 people delirious.

Later Mansell said, ‘we are in a very good place right now, that wasn’t a pretty game, but we are delighted to be winning football matches!’   Box told waiting media ‘it’s a nice feeling winning the game late. I kept myself away from all the ruckus around the penalty and calmly stepped up. The crowd were loud for 90 mins and were our 12th man!’

As for play off aspirations the writer walked away from the ground feeling even more confident now only 5 points off.  A point not missed by Chairmen Vince in his programme notes ‘we are keeping a watchful eye on 5th place (winking emoji)!

29/01/24 President Peter Miles (80 odd) home after hospital stay.

There is great news filtering around the club as our President and club legend Peter Miles is back home after a hospital stay.  Peter if you are reading, we were all concerned and thinking after you during your spell on ill health and we are glad that you are back at home.   We need you fit and healthy around the Homecall.

30/01/24.   U18s End January on a High at Woodside Road.

Around a dozen Hill fans made their way to mild and dryWorthing for a top of the table Isthmian Youth South clash. They were not disappointed as Hill raced into a two-nil lead.  Lawson and Maryon with the goals.  Worthing came out all guns blazing in the second half and scored three excellent goals. However, with time running out Hill’s young striking talent Alex Brewer scored a brilliant equaliser. A very exciting encounter finished three three.

Coach Ross Johnson said later ‘these boys always surprise you and give you 100% effort but I am a little disappointed with not getting the win’ In terms of Brewer he commented ‘he knows where the goal is!’  Finally, he commented ‘everything about the club is going in the right direction!’

With nine league matches to go our U18s are sitting 3rd place just five points off top spot. They entertain Bognor on 8th Feb 7.30 ko.

03/02/2024 Land of Giants!  It’s a 1950s Horror Movie at Sittingbourne   South East 32 points 9th.

Sittingbourne Fc play with fierce determination and like the it in the final third. It’s a case of laces through, winning the header and then press in the penalty box. There isn’t a lot of tapping the ball around the back four. Plus, they have some tall chaps with great skills to enable them to do it.  The 1st half turned into the set of a 1950s Horror movie set for the Hillianswith giants marauding with menace in and around the penalty box.  Three nil at ht became five nil at the end.

Mansell said ‘they are well drilled in what they do, and we were well beaten across the park today. We will go away and reflect. Our next game against Ashford will give us a real indicator of where this season is headed’.

05/02/24 -11/02/24 Frustrating Week as Rain Wrecks Two Matches.  South East 32 points 10th.

There were some bright spots during the week where our 5 a side pitch was officially ‘cleared’ and ready for action.  Thanks to all involved.  Our Managers Office saw the instillation of a new ‘Sponsors Board’ perfectly fitted to the wall.  Work commenced on the Directors Section of our main stand.  Please watch for improvements to come.  The pitch was vertidrained which will help going into the later stages of season 23/24.

On Friday 9th we held a Fans Forum in the Club House hosted by Vince, Tina, David, Vicky and Gary.  Turn out from fans was a little low but a number of topics were lively discussed.  The main message emerging from the evening was patience.Our new regime is fully behind taking this club to the next level and seem to have a budget to spend but it’s not going to happen overnight. That didn’t stop the writer asking the group if we could take the current positivity and turn it into promotion this season.  Gary responded, ‘We will give it a go!’

On the pitch it was a different story as our U18s fixture for 8thwas postponed due to heavy rain. Then on 10th it was more frustration as our home Isthmian South East fixture against Ashford was also a narrow victim to the weather. Even though it was the correct decision in the end there was a lot of tension prior to the 10.30 inspection.

That left a load of BHTFC fans in limbo needing a football fix.  Some went to Worthing, others went to Steyning.  Ray, Lord, Hangles and I ventured to the Camping World Stadium to catch up with Horsham v Wingate in the Premier.  Wow, all I am going to say on the subject is that Horsham have progressed well and if you are looking for a blueprint in ‘experience’ uptick.  Go take a peek!  

15/02/2024  Positive Day around the Club.  Lots going on as sun emerged across the region.

Thursday 15th February turned into a busy day round the Homecall as a host of tasks were undertaken.  All through the morning Ben and his team of electricians were calmly getting on with remedial work in the heart of the club house.  Their work was very important as we hunt down our Electricity Certificate.

1000 Leaflets Dropped.  Several volunteers and ‘Owners’ got involved in dropping around 1000 leaflets promoting the club and offering a £2 off admittance price.  Tina and Dave Bradbury had designed, and our printer Lemonade Group duly delivered.  Obviously 1000 doesn’t go far but the exercise will be repeated later in the season.  In the meantime, we will be interested to see how many vouchers will be used over the next couple of weeks.

Pies!  Tina was excited to unveil a range of pies which will appear on match days in the clubhouse. Come 1.30pm all tools were downed as we got stuck into a tasting session.  It can be reported that fans are in for a real treat.  Watch out for the Pie and Pint promotion.

David and Vicky ‘walk’ the floor.   Yours truly took our new Co Owners on a short walking tour of Burgess Hill taking in the Larkspur and Kings Weld Developments. The couple are not from the region but are keen to get a good understanding of what’s going on in the town.  They were impressed with the purpose-built Community Centre and adjoining ‘sports’ facilities. Not only was it an enjoyable afternoon hopefully it has inspired them as to the developing potential for our football club.  As a footnote to this we all know that the Northern Arch is coming and will be huge!

17/02/2024 Hythe Win Out Late Doors in Mid Sussex  SouthEast 32 points 12th

On a perfect mid winter’s day, the Homecall looked in great condition for the visit of Hythe as over 400 fans filed through the turnstile. The new club house pie dispenser in operation. There was joy for most as Kieran Rowe smashed home the only goal of an exciting 1st half. Taylor Seymour made some great saves including from a Collin penalty as Hythe pressed.  Caney-Bryan equalised and with time running out shocked the Homecall with an 88 min winner.

After back-to-back losses Gary Mansell said ‘we weren’t brave enough on the ball. If we have the ball more then they can’t score!’

20/02/2024  Cray Valley Paper Mills Go Top!     South East32 points 12th

Two quick 1st half goals under the Homecall lights gave Cray the perfect launch pad to go top of the Isthmian South East.  Reece Hallard gave Hill some hope of a revival, but the Millers were far too strong on the night running out four one winners.

22/02/2024  Jay Lovett is Appointed Recruitment Director.

Our previous Manager, Jay Lovett, is appointed as Recruitment Director. The club see the move as a key role in the evolving infrastructure which will under pin ourfoundation of ambition.  Manager Gary Mansell was clearly delighted saying ‘ Jay knows the club better than most and has knowledge of our league and ones above. He knows my philosophy so is able to support the style we look to implement; I look forward to working with him!’

Jay started his role at full speed signing Conrad Honore very quickly with more names following shortly.

We wish Jay all the best.

24/02/2024 Reggie Rescues a late Point at Sports.  Two Two   South East 33 points 12th

There was a moment of solace for the Hillians as Reggie Ward slammed home a last min equaliser at 3rd to bottom Phoenix Sports in an entertaining match.  It was the perfect time for our defender to score his 1st goal of the season.

However, joy was short lived as the team were rueing one or two defensive frailties which has blighted the February 2024 campaign.  With the scores locked at one one mid waythrough the 2nd half an innocuous Sports corner wasn’t dealt with properly leading to an easy tap in. Assistant Manager Lewis Taylor who told waiting media ‘we are totally aware of it and won’t accept that type of defending going forward.  Set pieces are huge in football and right now we are looking vulnerable. We will be working hard!’  Skipper Marcus Allen said ‘we can’t afford to keep conceding goals like that giving ourselves a mountain to climb’

25/02/2024 BHTFC U18 Girls Compete in League Cup Semi Final at rainy BH Academy

In an exciting occasion for our Junior section the U18s Girls team took on Newhaven for a place in the prestigious League Cup final.  Heavy rain accompanied the match on the 4g surface here in Burgess Hill.  Newhaven flew out the blocks and scored with their very 1st attack.   Hills highpoint in the afternoon came with a neat headed goal from the corner on 30 mins.  Newhaven then took a decisive lead on the stroke of half time.

In a tense and entertaining 2nd half Hill couldn’t break down a stubborn Newhaven defence and bowed out of the competition two one.  Congrats to both teams for an excellent game of football played in the right spirit and good luck to Newhaven in the final.  A final shout out to the referee who had an outstanding game.

27/02/2024   Game of Two Halves at Merstham as hosts win three one South East 33 points 12th

Many diehard Hillian fans made their way to Moatside for what turned into a pulsating match under floodlights. It was joy for the Hillians as team started very well with Kieran Rowe smashing home a 27 min opener. Reece Hallard could have made it two going into the break, but the home keeper made an excellent block. However, it all went wrong for Gary Mansell’s team as Merstham striker, Korrey Henry, scored not one, not two but three unanswered 2nd half goals. There was unbridled joy around the Hybrid Fitness Stadium but desolation and bewilderment amongst the south bound Hillian support.  Gary said after ‘we will be working hard to get it right!’ BHTFC end February with just 1 point from a possible 15.

We hope you have enjoyed this diary of events around the Homecall Carpets Stadium. We leave the 2023/24 winter period and head into the spring section of the season with work to do.  Hopefully we can start the next report with a resounding and moral boosting home win against SheppyUnited.

Please watch out for Edition 3 come early May 2024.

Cobo  29/02/2024