50th anniversary celebrations bring victories for EP

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East Preston Football Club chairman Terry Doyle admitted the club’s 50th anniversary celebrations were special to be a part of at the weekend.

EP hosted three games over two days to mark their Jubilee anniversary.

East Preston's 1998 squad

East Preston's 1998 squad

It all kicked off with a 5-1 win for the club’s under-16 side against Worthing Town White on Saturday, before Bob Paine’s first-team followed that up with a 3-1 victory over Southern Combination League Premier Division side Arundel.

To round off the celebrations, EP players from past and present came together for a veterans game on Sunday.

The club was originally formed in 1947 but had folded within ten years. It reformed in 1966 when it was elected to the Worthing League, before moving to the West Sussex League for the 1968-69 season and then becoming founding members of Sussex County League Division 3 in 1983-84.

EP were promoted into Division 1 for the first time in 1997-98, finishing fourth in 1999-2000 before they were relegated the following campaign.

Promotions and relegations then followed, before Dominic Di Paola guided East Preston to the Division 2 title and the Division 2 Cup in 2011-12.

The club finished third in Division 1 the following season before winning the SCFL title for the first time in their history in 2013-14.

They were relegated last season after a difficult campaign.

Following the weekend, Doyle felt it was fitting to look back on what has gone before, while also glancing into what may be in front for a young, reshaped EP side.

East Preston's title-winning 2013/14 team

East Preston's title-winning 2013/14 team

He said: “It was a very encouraging weekend for everyone involved. A lot of work went into organising the event and it went very well.

“The weekend as a whole was really well attended and it was special to be a part of.

“The club has developed so much in the past 50 years from playing on a park pitch to what it is now. It was nice to have so many old faces come back once again on Sunday for a veterans game and celebrate past successes.”

Doyle was impressed with EP’s success against Arundel and said: “We have had a really difficult couple of seasons on the field, so it’s nice to see a winning formula being bred at present.

Bob Paine's first-team squad

Bob Paine's first-team squad

“It’s a really new team we have got here but it’s all about being successful and trying to win matches this season.”

Despite only becoming EP boss earlier this summer, Paine embraced the day and felt it was a nice occasion for both himself and his team.

He said: “It was a really good weekend as a whole. The under-16s got a really good result, my team played well and got a good win, while we launched the anniversary kit. Saturday was really well attended and to see so many faces come back and show such warmth for this club was fantastic.

“I’ve only been here for a short period but already it is apparent what this club means to so many people.”

EP scored an anniversary win thanks to strikes from Jared Rance, Jacob Bassett and Matt Smith.

Paine has brought several of the Worthing under-21 side he managed last season to the club and has also kept hold of most of EP’s squad from the last campaign.

Paine believes his side is starting to take shape and said: “It took a little while for the team to gel and players to understand each other but with each passing session we are getting better.

“In every pre-season game we’ve played so far we have received praise from the opposition.

“Our programme of friendlies sees us come up against teams of a higher standard so to be able to compete and get results has been encouraging.

“There is just over a week to go until the new season starts and it’s a positive time here at the minute.”

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