Hastings & Bexhill head coach Kevin Smith says the locality should be proud of his players.
The rugby club was edged out 8-7 by Pulborough in the Sussex Shield final last weekend, two weeks after clinching promotion to London Three South East.
“I think the club and the towns of Hastings and Bexhill should be quite proud of them,” Smith said. “The guys in there probably feel a little bit deflated, but every one of those players has done a good job for us this year. We’ve had a very good season.”
Smith felt that Kent One runners-up H&B didn’t get the rub of the green with the refereeing decisions against undefeated Sussex One champions Pulborough at a windswept Heathfield & Waldron RFC.
“We fought for the 80 minutes and at times we felt we were playing against 16 men,” he continued. “Ultimately the penalty count has cost us. We’ve got to be a little bit more disciplined at the breakdown and contact area, and stay on our feet a little bit more.
“I just feel Hastings has never been a fashionable club. We’re on the fringe of Sussex and I just feel that since we’ve been in (the) Kent (league) we’ve put a few noses out of joint with Sussex. We’ve done very well out there; it just wasn’t our day.”
Having overseen a year-by-year improvement in H&B’s league position and led the club to three successive Sussex Shield finals (winning the first and losing the next two by just a point), Smith plans to continue for a fourth season in the post albeit with an eye out for a potential successor.
“I will be doing a fourth season and I will be making plans during the fourth season to have someone come in and take over,” he went on. “We’ve got two good coaches in Chris Brooks and Kit (Claughton) as our forwards’ and backs’ coaches respectively, and you just hope that someone takes over my role.”
Smith added that H&B “know we’ve got to strengthen certain areas and we will” to cope with the step up in standard they will encounter during the 2014/15 campaign.