Bowman on the Road: Heath and Saunders are going places

Skipper Naim's boot had to be cut free after ankle injury. Picture by Colin Bowman
Skipper Naim's boot had to be cut free after ankle injury. Picture by Colin Bowman

Even before Heath's title-winning celebrations had got started their manager told me: 'We will be going for three on the trot!'  And from a manager, with the pedigree of Shaun Saunders that is no empty promise.

Our local Southern Combination Football League team Haywards Heath Town are on a meteoric rise right now and the whole community should be very proud of them.

The Hanbury Park club had been under performing for many years in the back waters of County three and four.

They had to look on while near neighbours Burgess Hill Fc went through the gears and the divisions. However over the past three seasons the 'Blues' have been on a dramatic journey and the gap between both teams is now one division.

While Shaun has been a lynch pin the club has improved in many different ways. Infrastructure has been high on the agenda and not just using a paint brush. A new 4G training pitch, a tarmacked car park, changing room and club house upgrade have all been completed in the past 18 months. Perhaps the proudest achievement is to make their famous old wooden stand safe to use. That stand is probably the visual highlight to a Hanbury Park visit.

On the field Heath have assemble a team which have not only produced a double promotion but play a very attractive and front foot style which is pleasing on the eye. Not that Heath are scared to mix it some times.

Down at Lancing in January the team had to really battle when not at their best coming out two nil winners. Wins have been coming thick and fast but that hasn't stopped Shorheam FC being the main threat all season. Indeed even just a few weeks ago it looked as though Heath would take second place. However Heath managed to maintain momentum while Shoreham wilted.

Heath eventually saw daylight on Saturday when taking Horsham YMCA apart 7-1. In perhaps the team's best performance of the season goals just kept going in. Skipper Naim Rouane was having a great afternoon in the middle of the park but he turned an ankle on 76 mins and had to be stretchered off.

That incidence was the only hiccup on a perfect afternoon at Goring field. The good news is that after having his boot cut off by the physio Naim was able to take part in the post match celebrations.

Now the journey continues with a season to come at Ryman South level. Trust me its going to be a huge step for HHTFC to take, loads of travelling and some big established clubs to play week in week out. But you get the feeling that Town will more than ready for the challenge.

President Alan Jenkins, chairman Mick Cottingham, the back room staff and dedicated volunteers will be very busy over the summer. The driving force will be manager, Shaun Saunders.

I say this again its time to make a trip to Hanbury Park in August and get involved. The club will be looking for a major boost in attendances. Season 2017/18 should prove to be very exciting indeed and who would bet against yet another promotion?