After a couple of tough seasons, there are some smiling faces around Worthing’s Palatine Park – and it’s Worthing Town’s ladies’ sides who are putting them there.
Having endured a traumatic start to their second season back in the South East Counties League – following an up-and-down one last term – Town’s first team have bounced back in style, putting together two impressive victories in a row, including Sunday’s 10-1 thrashing of talented newcomers Lancing.
And their reserves, who lost 13 of their 14 Sussex County League games last season, matched their entire season’s wins total in their first game of the new campaign last week to suggest the Worthing Town project is gathering momentum.
It’s a big boost to the ambitious club, who foster hopes of a building a new stadium and training complex at the council-owned ground that has become their home.
And the upturn in club fortunes has delighted the women’s side’s new figurehead, Tammy Waine.
Waine, the former Brighton, Fulham and Lewes striker, now knocking in the goals at Chichester City, is director of ladies’ football at Worthing and helps coach both adult sides as well as the under-12s.
She told Sent Her Forward: “It’s really pleasing to see and hear from the managers that what you’re working on in training, they’re actually doing.”
Worthing Town: then and now
|League position||5th (/10)||5th (/12)||8th (/8)||3rd (/7)|
|League record||W: 7/18; L: 10/18||W: 2/3; L: 1/3||W: 1/14; L: 13/14||W: 1/1|
|Biggest win||10-0 v Dorking||10-1 v Lancing||7-0 v Henfield||5-4 v Burgess Hill T|
|Biggest defeat||0-6 v Wivelsfield G||3-7 v Crawley W||1-17 v Lancing||n/a|
Dulcie Elder, the club’s runaway top scorer last season, has been quickly into her stride again this time round, notching six goals – including a hat-trick yesterday – in the opening four league and cup games.
Jemma Dumbrill, who was not with the club last year, now has four after her own hat-trick yesterday, and Charlotte Hoskins – who scored one – a total of three as Town have hit the net 16 times in their opening three league games.
Worthing’s other goals against a severely depleted Lancing side came from Kirsty Lawrie, Lucy Crocombe and Mary Donnelly. Kayleigh Thaxter scored for their opponents.
Waine, whose playing commitments with Chichester and coaching obligations with the FA restrict her opportunities to witness the fruits of her labours on match days, takes her role at Worthing seriously.
Chatting to me only 24 hours after another exhausting 90 minutes of her own, helping Chichester City to a point against league leaders Swindon Town, Waine already had at her fingertips details of the first team’s victory yesterday – and she was equally enthusiastic about the reserves.
“They had their first win as well, and again, the back unit was apparently really solid.”
And it’s there that the FA-qualified coach believes the story of the teams’ improvement is based.
She said: “What we’ve been working on is building a solid foundation from the back.”
After the seniors’ 10-1 FAW Cup hammering at the hands of their league rivals Abbey Rangers on the first day of the new campaign – plus some testing results in pre-season – Waine was concerned for their fragile confidence.
But she felt a draw in a friendly against Shoreham & Adur was a turning point, and the new-found solidity at the back has proved a launchpad for their sudden goal glut, too – a 7-3 reverse at home to a strong Crawley Wasps was followed by a 3-0 victory over Haywards Heath & Wivelsfield and then the 10-1 win against albeit the nine players of Lancing.
“[The goals] have come as a bit of a by-product,” she said. “Because they’re a bit more organised defensively, they’re turning over the ball a bit higher up the pitch.
“No disrespect to the teams in the league, but they’ll tend to have a fast forward and they’ll play the long ball over the top because our defensive line was too high. And because now we’re a bit more organised, those balls aren’t going over the top of us as much, we’re winning the ball and we’re able almost to counter-attack or win the ball slightly further up the pitch.”
An added bonus for the new-style Worthing Town is the way they’re playing. “Because we’ve done so much on possession, I think they’re playing some really nice football and are creating far more chances now,” she added, proudly.
Waine, who took on the job of overseeing the female sides’ coaching regimes and tactical plans after establishing she had the support of the existing managers and coaches, was full of praise for the response of the players, most of whom were at the club last season.
“There are a couple of very talented youngsters, but for the most part, it’s players craving technical, tactical input to make them better.
“Normally when you get to adult football you don’t necessarily get that same kind of wanting to learn as much – players have already developed that ‘well, I know that already’ mentality – but with the women’s squad, the attitude has been top-drawer.”
And with her under-12s soaking up knowledge like “sponges”, the future at Palatine Park looks promising.
Waine added: “All we want to do is improve and build a really good foundation and potentially progress a little more next season. This is a kind of consolidation – it’s to implement a way of playing, a philosophy, which… we’re trying to build across the whole women and girls section.”