Burgess Hill Town's Pat Harding says there is a lot of optimism in the Hillians camp
Pat Harding believes this season is one of the most competitive he has known.
The veteran - and he doesn’t mind being called that - striker is in his tenth season at Burgess Hill Town so he knows what he is talking about.
And before the second lockdown struck, the 36-year-old hit form with two goals against Harrow Borough in the FA Trophy.
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In the league the side have struggled an currently sit 19th with just one win in seven games.
But Harding believes optimism in the camp is high and they will start climbing the table when they get back in action.
He said: “This season the team has had a few formations and rotations and I feel we are just finding the right balance - its a feeling of optimism in the camp.
“I’ll say the team is a lovely bunch of guys and I’m very happy with the cohesion amongst the players. We will start climbing the table, I know the team is better than our current position, one win takes us up seven places.
“It’s all very early and nothing has settled yet.
“I also think this league this season is one of the most competitive Ryman South’s I’ve ever known. There’s not many weak teams.”
One of the reasons for optimism, according to Harding, who turns 37 in December, is coach Jay Lovett. “It’s great having Jay as manager, a UEFA A coach is quite a qualification in non league, and the real noticeable difference is the modernisation of the game and Jay is at forefront of that,” said Harding.
“He is what Burgess Hill need at this current time. His training sessions are also the best I’ve come across.
“Let’s not forget the other management staff, Steve Sutherland has great experience and a calm head, and Matt Bubbs [coach] has knowledge and positivity to add to the group.”
Having played many seasons, this one definitely qualifies as the strangest for Harding. But he feels the club are in transition and they will get better - he just does not expect it to happen overnight.
He said: “It feels like the season hasn’t really got going yet, its been a strange pre season with a delayed start and then cup games are rushed through in midweek without replays etc.
“We have a lot of new players and I feel we are gelling together but it can take time. Burgess Hill is a club in transition and we are on the way back up but these things don’t happen overnight, you can see that with other non league clubs.
“Hastings is a prime example. They got relegated from the Ryman Prem about seven years ago and they have only just got back to their levels.
“The key with football clubs is steadily build over the years, small improvements with everything around the club growing at the same time.
“It was nice to get off the mark with two goals against Harrow, I knew if I kept getting in the right place I’d score.”
More from our interview with 'Super' Pat Harding to follow and in this week's Mid Sussex Times