Shelley: I’ve loved every minute here

Joe Shelley and Jon Hendrick lift the County League title on Saturday
Joe Shelley and Jon Hendrick lift the County League title on Saturday

JOE SHELLEY admitted he has loved every minute at Littlehampton Football Club as he celebrated lifting the County League title for the second successive year.

Shelley captained East Preston to the title last season but left The Lashmar to join Hastings when Dominic Di Paola took over at the Ryman League club in October.

Shelley soon moved to Littlehampton, where he was instantly made captain, and the inspirational midfielder scored ten goals in 21 appearances for Golds, including eight in his last 12 games.

He said: “For me to join Littlehampton was hard because I came from East Preston and I got a lot of stick for it but the players, the fans and Mark Bennett have been unbelievable here.

“I’ve loved every minute of being here and, hopefully, I’ll stay a bit longer but now I’m just going to have a rest for the summer.”

The title race was back and forth between Golds and Dorking Wanderers in the closing stages of the season.

Littlehampton went into Saturday’s game needing a win to lift the title and Shelley said: “The first ten minutes we started really well but for the 25 minutes after that we were rubbish and they scored two goals.

“Then we started to play a bit better but it was just about getting the result and obviously Arundel did us a favour.

“At half-time, we knew that Arundel were 1-0 up and then we found out it was 1-1, so we had to push on a bit further to get the draw. Obviously there was a big cheer near the end when Arundel went 2-1 up and then, when the whistle blew, we were ecstatic.

“We always make things hard for ourselves. Every game has always been difficult since I’ve been here. We should have won against East Preston and should have won against Hailsham. We then dropped points against Horsham YMCA when it was 1-1, so we’ve always done it the hard way.

“When we drew against Hailsham and then went to play against Eastbourne Town, we were a bit flat but we went there and played so well and won 3-1.

“After that, we believed we could win it again and it was a major plus when Dorking dropped points against Eastbourne United, it was unreal for us.”

On lifting the title again, Shelley said: “It’s good for me personally to win it back-to-back and for Darren Boswell, too. However, Mark is the main man and we’ve won it for him.

“He had faith in me, he had faith in Bozzy and faith in all of the players. He’s a good bloke, so this is for him.”