George Dowell played for Worthing FC until, at the age of 17 he had a major road traffic accident which left him paralysed from the chest down.
Looking for ways to stay involved and continue his passion for the game, George started his own team – Worthing Borough. Starting this team enabled him to mix back in with the football community, and grow in confidence and knowledge, this led to him coming up with a business plan and buying Worthing FC when he was 22.
Since taking over as The Owner at the club and now at age 29, Worthing Football Club has seen some major changes. The team has risen in its ranks, has had improvements to the grounds and expanded their offerings, from having a women’s team, Youth teams, senior teams, and an inclusive team. They recently became champions of the Isthmian League Premier Division and have now been promoted to the National League.
We met up with the very successful and proud Worthingnite; George Dowell to ask a few questions…
Why did you decide to invest in worthing?
Worthing has a huge population and is known as a sleeping giant in non-league football, it’s one of the biggest towns that hasn’t supported a football league club. We want to install the passion and bring the community to the club. With its location and size, being in Worthing there are a lot of people that can use the club during the week and not just on match days, from the bar, the pitch, training days and even use our facilities for work meetings.
What opportunities does Worthing give you?
The business community in Worthing is great. A huge part of what we do is networking with local businesses, linking with sponsors and creating partnerships.
With Worthing having a big population and a great location – We also run an Education Academy Programme at WFC, linking with local colleges to offer a comprehensive education programme alongside a high level of football coaching. Giving students a really strong pathway into the industry. They are coached by the 1st team manager, train 4 times a week and play games every wednesday. We link with local colleges in Worthing, giving younger people more opportunities and choices for their education. We have had sports journalists join, not just keen footballers! From this we are just about to launch a women’s development centre too.
Tell us more about the community at WFC and its fans?
We have such an amazing group of fans. They are passionate and very loyal, there’s a group that call themselves “The Away Boys.’. They sing songs and get behind the players, home and away. We have a close communication with them and they are fully part of the club. We have a supporters associations (WFCSA) that does a fantastic job, holding raffles and raising money to put back into the club to benefit the supporters, for example they bought handrails for the stands to make it more accessible.
Overall we have the highest league attendance by quite a long way, almost double other clubs at our level.
One of my favourite memories at WFC was the first year we took over, we got promoted. We had a sold out crowd with over 2000 people attending and we won it quite comfortably. It was so important to get the promotion in the first year, to give people a reason to believe there is change. Trying to push Worthing as a town and a football club through the league, that’s a promotion everyone can get behind. You can support your premier league club and your local club at the same time.
What do you like doing in Worthing in your private life
One of my favourite things is going out to eat, new restaurants are popping up all the time so it’s easy to find somewhere! I genuinely check out the TfW website to check what’s going on.
I love the Dome and watching movies, the Dome is really good for accessibility. I really enjoy going to the seafront in the rain and just spending time by the beach, I find it really calming.
Obviously going to WFC games is number one!
Any future plans for WFC?
A few upgrades to the grounds, looking to have a new stand of 100 seats, get some more food and drink outlets to reduce queues, more toilet facilities and hopefully another bar.
But more importantly we are looking to integrate more with the community.
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