Donnelly: ‘As far as I’m aware we are going down’

Shoreham Football Club manager Sammy Donnelly (centre). Picture by Stephen Goodger
Shoreham Football Club manager Sammy Donnelly (centre). Picture by Stephen Goodger

Shoreham manager Sammy Donnelly is resigned to playing in the Southern Combination League next season, despite annual uncertainly about how many teams will go up and down.

They finished bottom of the Bostik League South and expect to take their place among the more familiar former Sussex County League Premier Division.

One year ago the Mussels were planning another season among the county’s elite.

Uncertainty abounded because Haywards Heath overtook Shoreham to win the Southern Combination league and earned promotion as champions.

But their rivals had been disciplined for fielding an ineligible player and were fighting a decision by the authorities to strip them of points.

Heath believed they were in the right and argued they were not to blame in the case, which centred around a player who had allegedly not paid a fine while at his previous club.

This meant if the decision stood, Shoreham would replace them as champions.

Eventually Shaun Saunders’ side lost their appeal and suddenly both Heath and Shoreham had to start planning for life in a different league from what they were expecting.

This year Shoreham have finished bottom of the table and would exepct to go down but the Bostik league is adding an extra Midlands division next season, so additional teams are believed to be required at the higher level.

However Donnelly, who became Shoreham boss in May 2017, has not heard any information from the league or any rumours about the possibility of a reprieve from relegation.

He said: “We are relegated - every season this rears it’s head up, but as far as I’m aware we are going down.

“I have heard no rumours of anything different and everyone at the club believes we are relegated.

“We had six weeks of rumours last season, and it was not helpful to us.”

Goalkeeper James Braodbent won all the main end-of-season awards, including the Manager’s Player of the Year and Club Player of the Year.

Donnelly said: “He’s one of the best ‘keepers in Sussex and thoroughly deserved the award. He has already signed for next season which will be his second year at the club.”

He revealed: “I have known James before as we previously worked together at Eastbourne Town and he did well for us there too.”

Full-back Alfie Proto-Gates, 17, won the Young Player of the Year Award.

Donnelly said: “Alfie is on contract and has a great futire - I believe he will play at a high level and could one day become a full-time professional.”

He added: “We start pre-season training on Thursday, June 7 and then we will train every Tuesday and Thursday after that.

“It’s an early start as it will be a young squad and six weeks’ rest will be enough for them.

“The squad will be more or less the same as that which finished the season. It’s going to be a good squad and I will look forward to getting back.”