Worthing F.C.

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Worthing FC Badge.png
Full name Worthing Football Club
Nickname(s) The Rebels
Founded 1886; 132 years ago (1886) (as Worthing AFC)
Ground Woodside Road, Worthing
Ground Capacity 4,000
Owner George Dowell
Chairman Pete Stone
Manager Adam Hinshelwood
League Isthmian League Premier Division
2017–18 Isthmian League Premier Division, 16th of 24

Worthing Football Club are an English association football club based in Worthing, West Sussex, currently playing in the Isthmian League Premier Division. The club plays at Woodside Road.


The club was formed as Worthing Association Football Club (a name that lasted until 1899) in February 1886 and played friendlies and Sussex Senior Cup ties for the first few years of their existence.

In 1896 the club became founding members of the West Sussex Football League, joining the Senior Division.[1] During their time in the West Sussex league they were league champions on seven occasions. In May 1900 the club absorbed local rivals Worthing Athletic and a year later moved to its current home, then known as the Sports Ground, now as Woodside Road. In 1905 another rival team, Worthing Rovers, was also absorbed.

The club's intriguing nickname of "The Rebels" dates from when it resigned from the West Sussex League over a rule change, prior to becoming a founder member of the Sussex County League in 1920. Previously Worthing had been known as "The Mackerel Men": a reference to the fish on the club crest.

In 1920 Worthing became founder members of the Sussex County League, where once again they won eight league titles, in fact in the twenty seasons prior to World War II they only finished outside the top four on two occasions.

In 1948–49 Worthing joined the Corinthian League but met with little success. In 1963 the Corinthian League disbanded and most of its clubs joined the newly created Athenian League Division One, where Worthing won promotion at the first attempt, although after three seasons in the Premier Division, two successive relegations saw them drop to Division 2.

After managing a return to the top division, Worthing joined the Isthmian League in 1977, initially in Division Two, but by 1983 they had reached the Premier Division under manager Barry Lloyd and in fact finished as runners-up in 1983–84 and 1984–85. After Lloyd's deparature to Brighton & Hove Albion, however, the club soon slipped back down to Division Two, finishing bottom of Division One in the 1990–91 season with only 10 points and having conceded a huge 157 goals.

Former Northern Ireland international Gerry Armstrong was appointed manager in 1991 and in 1992–93 led the club to promotion back to Division One, which was followed two years later by a return to the Premier Division under John Robson, although Worthing finished bottom in their first season back in the Premier Division and were to remain in Division One until 2004 when the re-organisation of the English football league system saw them moved back to the Premier Division. They were relegated at the end of the 2006–07 season.

The club then reached the play-offs under manager Alan Pook two seasons in a row, losing both matches without scoring a goal. Unknown young manager, Simon Colbran then took the helm and soon became a fans' favourite as the Rebels topped the league for much of Autumn and Winter. Despite several budget cuts, the Rebels finished third and narrowly missed out in the play offs at home to Godalming.

Former Brighton & Hove Albion player Adam Hinshelwood was appointed Worthing manager in December 2013 and lost his first game away at Burgess Hill 4–1.[2] In January 2015 the playing budget at the club was completely cut and its debts revealed to be around £200,000.[3] The future of the club looked in serious doubt until March 2015 when local football enthusiast George Dowell became the majority shareholder in the club with plans to invest in various areas.[4] On 10 June 2015, Hinshelwood resigned from the club to take up a full-time coaching post at Brighton & Hove Albion. He was replaced by assistant manager Jon Meeney and 29-year-old defender Gary Elphick.

In 2016, Worthing were promoted to the Isthmian League Premier Division via the play-off, having finished the 2015-16 season in third place in the southern division. Player-manager Gary Elphick was on the scoresheet in the play-off final.

League history[edit]

Season League contested Played Won Drawn Lost For Against Points Final league position Average attendance
2016–17 Isthmian League
Premier Division
46 16 8 22 73 85 56 14th of 24 N/A
2015–16 Isthmian League
Division One South
46 27 7 12 96 56 88 3rd of 24* 499
2014–15 Isthmian League
Division One South
46 22 10 14 92 65 76 6th of 24 250
2013–14 Isthmian League
Division One South
46 17 8 21 80 98 59 15th of 24 204
2012–13 Isthmian League
Division One South
42 16 9 17 77 74 57 10th of 22 200
2011–12 Isthmian League
Division One South
40 18 10 12 69 45 64 7th of 21 276
2010–11 Isthmian League
Division One South
42 12 13 17 76 73 49 14th of 22 239
2009–10 Isthmian League
Division One South
42 25 5 12 83 53 80 3rd of 22 278
2008–09 Isthmian League
Division One South
42 21 13 8 77 48 76 5th of 22 288
2007–08 Isthmian League
Division One South
42 22 7 13 77 49 73 5th of 22 321
2006–07 Isthmian League
Premier Division
42 8 11 23 57 82 35 20th of 22 408
2005–06 Isthmian League
Premier Division
42 19 10 13 71 60 67 8th of 22 530
2004–05 Isthmian League
Premier Division
42 16 11 15 50 45 59 10th of 22 360

notes: * Won promotion to Isthmian League Premier Division via play-offs


A sports ground opened on the Woodside Road site as early as 1892[5] when the site was part of the parish of West Tarring, which at the time was not yet part of the borough of Worthing. Known as the Pavilion Road Sports Ground, it occupied a 13-acre site, with a Queen Anne style pavilion giving its name to Pavilion Road along the south of the site.[5] Worthing FC moved to the ground in 1903.[5] In 1937 the Sports Ground closed and it is the site's northern portion which developed into the existing stadium. The southern portion of the Sports Ground became tennis courts and then in 1948 became home to Worthing Pavilion Bowls Club.[5] Floodlights were installed in 1977.[5] At the end of 1984–85 Woodside Road's main stand burnt down.[6]

The ground has also been home to Horsham (during the 2008–09 season) and Brighton & Hove Albion's reserve team after the closure of the Goldstone Ground in 1997.

June 2015 saw a 3G pitch installed to replace the turf, among a number of improvements around the ground. This included a complete re-refurbishment of the club.


League honours[edit]

  • Isthmian League Div 1 – Champions – 1982–83
  • Isthmian League Div 1 – Runners Up – 1994–95
  • Isthmian League Div 1S – Runners Up – 2003–04
  • Isthmian League Div 1S – Play-off winners – 2015–16
  • Isthmian League Div 2 – Champions – 1981–82, 1992–93
  • Sussex County League – Champions – 1920–21, 1921–22, 1926–27, 1928–29, 1930–31, 1933–34, 1938–39, 1939–40

Cup honours[edit]

  • The Sussex Royal Ulster Rifles Charity Cup[7]
    • Winners (14): 1903–04, 1906–07, 1907–08, 1909–10, 1913–14, 1920–21, 1926–27, 1933–34 (shared with Horsham), 1939–40, 1941–42, 1944–45, 1948–49 (shared with Horsham), 1952–53, 1953–54
    • Runners Up (8): 1898–99, 1928–29, 1929–30, 1930–31, 1931–32, 1935–36, 1938–39, 1942–43


  • Best league performance: 2nd in Isthmian League Premier Division, 1983–84 and 1984–85
  • Best FA Cup performance: 2nd round, 1982–83
  • Best FA Youth Cup performance: 3rd round, 2015–16
  • Best FA Amateur Cup performance: Quarter-finals, 1907–08
  • Best FA Trophy performance: 4th round, 2003–04
  • Best FA Vase performance: 5th round, 1978–79
  • Record signing – Nko Ekoku (from Leatherhead – 2003)[citation needed]

Managerial history[edit]

Dates Name
1981–1985 England Barry Lloyd
1985–1987 England Keith Rowley
1987–1988 England Alan Pook
1988–1989 England J.Rains
1989–1991 England Keith Rowley
1991–1995 Northern Ireland Gerry Armstrong
1995–1996 England John Robson
1996–1997 England Mark Falco
1997–2001 England Brian Donnelly
2001–2003 England Barry Lloyd
2003–2009 England Alan Pook
2009–2010 England Simon Colbran
2010–2012 England Chris White
2012–2013 England Lee Brace
2013–2015 England Adam Hinshelwood
2015–2017 England Gary Elphick
2017– England Adam Hinshelwood

Former players[edit]

1. Players that have played/managed in the football league or any foreign equivalent to this level (i.e. fully professional league).
2. Players with full international caps.
3. Players that hold a club record or have captained the club.


  • Worthing at the Football Club History Database

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shoreham F.C. – Early football in Shoreham and the 'Glory Years". Shoreham History Portal. Archived from the original on 13 June 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2013. 
  2. ^ "Hinshelwood takes over as Rebels boss". Worthing Herald. Retrieved 26 December 2013. 
  3. ^ "Playing Budget is Cut Completely at Rebels". Worthing Herald. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Inspirational George begins new Rebel era". Worthing Herald. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Elleray, D. Robert (1998). A Millennium Encyclopaedia of Worthing History. Worthing: Optimus Books. ISBN 0-9533132-0-4. 
  6. ^ "A History of Worthing Football Club". Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2010. 
  7. ^ "R.U.R. Cup Final Results – Sussex County Football Association". Sussexcountyleague.com. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°49′13.285″N 0°23′5.554″W / 50.82035694°N 0.38487611°W / 50.82035694; -0.38487611