Pic: Paul Paxford
BOGNOR REGIS fans love the bones of promotion hero Ollie Pearce – but he has revealed the reason he ended up playing in white and green was purely down to pot luck.
The striker scored what turned out to be the winning goal in Bank Holiday Monday’s tense final with Dulwich Hamlet.
A crowd of 3,119 – the highest at Nyewood Lane for over 33 years – witnessed Bognor get the job done, the 2-1 win returning second tier Non-League to the that part of the south coast for the first time since 2009.
Exactly the same thing happened in the semi-final against Wingate &?Finchley with the small matter of Pearce getting both critical goals in that game, not just the one.
If the fans that have fallen in love with the 21-year-old believe it was destiny he ever pulled on the club’s jersey, they may well be right.
“How I came to join the club was actually totally random,” said highly-rated Pearce. “Most people think it’s because of my dad, Robbie. He played over 100 games for the club and he’s well known down there but it isn’t just a case of me trying to follow in his footsteps.
“Actually it happened when I was 14. My dad lives in Surrey and we were at a loose end on a Saturday, and knew Godalming, his local club, were at home. We went down and it happened to be Bognor they were playing against.
“Dad got talking to some people and arranged for me to come along for a trial and it took off from there. I was looking to play and it sounded good.
“It was a while ago obviously but I remember being really impressed by Bognor that day and the football they played. It’s great to think I have played a part in them getting back into the Conference South.”
More than that. Pearce is the man of the moment but the talk about him stopped before the celebrations had died down.
Jamie Howell, the club’s manager, had accepted the Eastbourne Borough job. It perhaps stole a bit of Pearce’s thunder but the centre-forward wishes him well.
“He’s been a fantastic gaffer and I’ve got nothing but great things to say about him,” he said. “We’ve had such a great season. Jamie said in an interview after the game that we never do things the easy way and I couldn’t have summed it up better myself.
“He really got our heads in the right place for these play-offs. As everyone knows, we’re not exactly good at them. The last few years have been a nightmare.
“When we blew the title on the last day of the season, heads went. We drew at home to Met Police and as we walked off the pitch we knew Havant had dropped points at Kingstonian. If we would have won, the championship was ours. Experienced players in the dressing room were in a very bad place.
“I remember thinking it would take a lot to pick us up for the play-offs which were a few days after. But he did. We rose to the occasion and he got something out of us. He’s a fantastic manager and we wish him nothing but success.”