Chichester City’s past, present and future gathered at the club’s headquarters last night to mark the end of an era and the dawn of a new one.
The present first team and development players joined the club’s ever-growing number of youth players for Chichester’s first-ever awards evening specifically for the ladies’ teams.
Former stalwart Kirsty Willett, now living in France, was there. So was current first-team captain, Jenna Fowlie, and team-mates old and new as they said goodbye to the old management team of Matt Wright and Caz Henry-Evans – and welcomed the new behind-the-scenes supremos who aim to help see them to an even brighter future – Matt Wright and Caz Henry-Evans.
The respective managers of the first team and development sides have stepped down after around 14 years’ combined service, making way for the next generation of managers and coaches.
But they leave a legacy of three youth teams as well as the two senior sides – and the likelihood of another next season.
And crucially, both are remaining in administrative roles to ensure the club is run smoothly while the coaching team concentrate on on-field activities.
Wright’s side had an “up and down” season, as he put it, eventually finishing deep in the lower half of the Premier League’s second tier, Division One South West, although comfortably clear of relegation.
But he has high hopes for the next campaign, with his former assistant, Liam Greenfield, at the helm, as has Henry-Evans, whose second string enjoyed a highly respectable second half to their first season in the FAW Premier League Reserves Division after making the leap from south-east regional football.
Both sides bowed out in the way their managers would have wanted them to play all season – the firsts forcing league champions-elect Forest Green Rovers to put the champagne on ice by beating them 2-1 in their final game of the season, and the development side hitting C&K Basildon for six to clinch their third win in their final four fixtures.
Last night they handed out the accolades for the club’s top contributors in season 2014/15.
They included awards for the under-10, under-12 and under-14 sides as well as senior presentations, the clubman award and a special one for outstanding achievement, awarded to first-team playmaker Jade Widdowson, who missed virtually the whole campaign through injury.
As each year-group coach announced their own winners, they also paid tribute to the contributions that the senior management duo had made.
As new first-team boss Greenfield put it: “Without those two, none of us would be here right now.”
1st team Manager’s Player of the Season: Becky Barron
Players’ player of the season: Lucie Challen
Most improved player: Emily Simmonds
Development squad manager’s Player of the season: Gemma Halford
Players’ player of the season: Ellie Hawes
Most improved player: Rachel Towler
Clubman award: Nico Scuotto
Outstanding achievement: Jade Widdowson
Outstanding contribution (development team): Jemma Cottam-Verbruggen