Rocks captain Dan Beck has revealed his heartache at not being able to lead his side to the Ryman one south title after picking up a season-ending injury.
The midfield supremo broke his collarbone in the 4-2 win at Godalming a fortnight ago and has been ruled out for six to eight weeks.
The 28-year-old, who has chalked up nearly 300 appearances for the club, said it was touch and go whether he would be able to return in time for the final games of the season.
But he is hoping his team-mates will be able to clinch promotion with or without him.
“To miss such a large part at the crucial time for me is frustrating. It’s frustrating because we have worked so hard since July.
“I’m hoping to play some part of the season, but it’s literally not going to be until the end of April.
“Obviously I’m going to be going to all the games. It’s going to be hard because I was in the thick of it. I have not had any injuries all season – I just got suspended for one game.
“I’m sure the team will be hoping to push on and get over that final last hurdle.”
He said the collarbone was feeling a lot better ten days on, and he was due to have an x-ray yesterday to see how quickly it was healing.
The week before the injury against Godalming he was on the bench for the 6-1 win against Walton Casuals after suffering swelling to his knee while in his day job as a plumber.
Of the Godalming injury he said: “It was a 50-50 challenge – it wasn’t malicious. I had gone in mid-air, my legs came way and I just landed on my neck. I knew straight away because I heard it crack.”
Although the Rocks have been among the pacesetters since the start of the season, it hasn’t been all plain sailing as the squad has been depleted with the likes of Luke Nightingale, Jason Prior, and James Fraser all retiring or moving on, and others suffering long-term injuries.
And it was the retirement of stalwart Michael Birmingham just a few games into the season that led to Beck becoming captain.
It was the first time he’d had that honour in a career which he has spent, for the most part, at Nyewood Lane in addition to spells at Lewes, and at Saturday’s opponents Burgess Hill when Jamie Howell was in charge there.
“It was a bit of a shock,” he said of being made captain. “I took it on, I’ve never had it before. So far it’s gone well.
“I like to drive the team forward rather than influence vocally – there’s a lot of lads who are quite vocal anyway.”
He said despite the changes, and the youthful nature of the squad, the team had gelled well.
“The team started really strong. As a team they are all growing up together,” he said. “A lot of the key players have left so to go up this season would be an achievement.
“Fingers crossed this year will be our year.”