Tonight’s Sussex Senior Cup final promises to be a family affair if under-18s midfielder Jack Hinshelwood gets onto the Amex pitch.
The 17-year-old scholar is the son of Adam, who made 100 league appearances for the club during the Withdean era, before turning to coaching and management.
Now Worthing boss, he led the Rebels to the Isthmian League premier division title last month and will be in the away technical area plotting the downfall of his old club in the county’s showpiece final.
Jack is aiming to become the fourth generation of his family to make it as a professional footballer.
His great grandfather Wally played for Fulham, Chelsea, Reading and Bristol City. Wally’s sons Paul and Martin both played for Crystal Palace, with Martin going on to coach and manage the Albion.
Martin’s son Danny, who is Jack’s uncle, also played full-back for the Albion and Portsmouth.
“Everyone knows about the history we have as a family, but I’m just doing my own thing,” said Jack, who joined Albion as an under-9s player from West Sussex junior side Felpham Colts. “I’m working my hardest to do what is needed to become a professional footballer.
“I have my dad there guiding me, but he just lets me play. When he comes to watch he won’t say much, just a few things I’ve done well and a few things I could have done better. He says there is no pressure on me at all – he just wants me to enjoy my football.”
Jack looked like following the family tradition of turning out as a defender, he is now making his name further up the pitch.
“Today I see myself more as a box-to-box midfielder, who can do both sides of the game. I like to get involved, breaking up the play, but I also like to get forward when I can. It’s a role I really enjoy.”
Jack is coming towards the end of his first season as a scholar and has made 20 league appearances to date, scoring six goals. He also played in the FA Cup wins against Manchester City and Charlton Athletic, as the side reached the sixth round – equalling the furthest the club has ever reached in the competition.
The next step is to break into Andrew Crofts’ under-23 side. He has been on the bench for a few league games already, likewise in the Papa John’s Trophy, and admits there is a step-up compared to what he’s become accustomed to.
“I’ve had a lot of sessions with them,” he revealed. “When you train with them, the intensity goes up a notch and you’ve got some physical boys in there, much older than me, so you have to be one step ahead and go up a level.”
Adam was 18 when he made his Albion debut, against Burnley in August 2002, and whether Jack follows suit remains to be seen. He has only recently turned 17, so has plenty of time on his side to achieve what he admits would be the ultimate dream.
First things first and tonight he hopes to help Albion lift the Senior Cup for the first time since 2018.