Welcome to The Dripping Pan for today’s Bostik Premier League game with AFC Hornchurch. Here is your complimentary e-programme.

Bostik League and Respect logos

IN TODAY’S ISSUE

Rook divider

LEWES WELCOMES REFUGEES

Lewes FC is proud to be taking part in Amnesty International UK’s Football Welcomesinitiative this weekend to celebrate the contribution refugee players make to the beautiful game.

Backed by Premier League clubs across the country as well as the FA Women’s Super League; the English Football League; the FA Women’s National League and grassroots and non-league teams, Football Welcomes also aims to highlight the important role football clubs can play in welcoming refugees and people seeking asylum into their local communities, and in helping them to settle in to a new country and culture.

You can find out more about this initiative by clicking here

Rook divider

DARREN FROM THE DUGOUT

Hear Darren’s thoughts on today’s game by clicking the Play button below:

Rook divider

CHAIRMAN’S NOTES

Good afternoon and welcome to the Dripping Pan for our final Bostik Premier game of the season.  I’d like to welcome the players, fans, management and officials from AFC Hornchurch and hope your journey back north of the Thames is problem-free.

I had hoped that we would be coming into this game still in with a chance of making the play-offs but defeat last Saturday to a strong Bishop’s Stortford side put paid to that. However, if we would have been offered a mid-table position back in August I think we would all have taken it.

Our season has certainly had some highs and lows. The demolitions of Molesey in the FA Cup (8-1) and the five-goal first half performance against Brightlingsea Regent back in December were certainly memorable as, too, were our cup runs this season. Our best performance?  Worthing away was a memorable victory, especially Hammo’s amazing goal from the half-way line, whilst the win at Dorking Wanderers proved that we could compete with the best.

However, we suffered a number of disappointments, especially on the injury front. Losing Ronnie, Brinky and Leon was tough and we all felt for Alex Malins when he damaged his ankle whilst on loan. Few of us who saw the 0-0 draw away at Molesey in the FA Cup will ever want to relive that game, whilst the 3-0 home defeat on New Year’s Day to Burgess Hill was a wake-up call for us.

Our support has once again been outstanding and, with just today’s game to go, we’ve seen our average attendance rise to 624, almost 10% up on last season’s promotion campaign. Thank you to everyone who has followed the side here and on the road, with almost unconditional support. The management team and the squad (and the board!) really appreciate the efforts you all go to.

The end of the season always means we will be saying goodbye to some familiar faces – in the next week or so Barry and I will sit down with Darren, Ross and Codge to start finalising our plans for next season, as well as our pre-season preparation. We’ve all been out and about in the last couple of months watching players around the county and in other leagues, as we look to improve on our finish this season in 2019/20.

Tomorrow sees our final Women’s home game of the season as we host Sheffield United. Results, and more importantly performances, in the last few games have been impressive, none more so than last week’s 2-2 at Aston Villa. The future looks bright too – I was lucky enough to see our Foundation Squad win the SECFL Chairman’s Cup last Sunday at Maidstone United as we beat Oakwood 3-1.

It will also be the last home game that Barry Haffenden will be manning the club shop as he is handing over the keys to the shop to someone new. Barry has increased our retail sales year after year over the past eight years, even with some questionable items (Christmas jumpers in the summer sale anyone?) and it will be a tough act to beat in replacing him.

On Tuesday we have a massive game here at The Pan as our Under-18s, the Isthmian Youth League South Winners, take on their counterparts from the East division, Croydon, in the semi-final of the Champions of Champions Play-off. Support for the team in the past couple of weeks has been brilliant, so if you can get down to the Pan on Tuesday please do, as they will really appreciate the support as they go for the treble!

For one more time this season, get behind the boys and COME ON YOU ROOKS!

Stuart

Rook divider

VOTE FOR YOUR PLAYERS OF THE SEASON

Voting will be open for Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year until half-time of today’s game.

You can either vote online, by clicking here and filling out the simple voting slip, or vote on old-fashioned pen and paper with the slips on the bar.

The Player of the Year trophies will be presented immediately after today’s game.

Rook divider

TODAY’S MATCH MUSIC

Today’s match playlist is compiled by our very own John Peel (not that one). Click on the player below to listen to the tracks on Spotify.

Rook divider

GOAL OF THE SEASON

Barry Collins looks back to a cold January day and the indisputable strike of the season

We thought about running a vote for Goal of the Season, gathering all the YouTube clips together and getting you to pick your favourite. But it wouldn’t be – to use that repugnant phrase – a meaningful vote.

There is only one contender for Goal of the Season and it came at Worthing on the 12th of January.

The Rooks had weathered a tough opening half an hour, but were lifted by a red card for Worthing’s Ricky Aguiar, who tried swapping shirts with Omarr Lawson an hour earlier than he should have and was rightly sent to reflect on his haste in the changing rooms.

The resulting free-kick on the edge of the box came to nothing; the chuntering about never playing well against ten men begun on the packed away terrace.

Four minutes later, we win an innocuous free-kick on the halfway line. Who was fouled? Who was the offender? Who knows, the free-kick was so far out there was no point in making note. Some of us reverted to tapping out witty tweets, in a pathetically desperate attempt to get a like or two.

My attention was dragged back to the pitch by the baleful shout of “don’t f***ing shoot from there!” by a supporter next to me, who shall remain nameless.

I had no idea where the ball was; all I could see was the keeper backpedalling so furiously that Worthing’s artificial pitch was almost set ablaze.

Those four frames (taken, as ever, by the immaculate James Boyes) prove the ball went over the line, but that last one – where the ball thumped off the shredded tyres and back out of the goal… that put doubt into the referee’s mind.

Liam’s claiming it, Dan’s claiming it, the Rooks faithful know that’s a goal for the ages, but the ref’s not sure. He’s 40 yards away. He needs a second opinion. Of course, he gets half dozen of them…

There aren’t many Russian linesemen in the Bostik League and this one was nowhere near the goalline when it dropped in. How could he be? If he was that fast he’d be earning more than £30 for waving a flag.

The ref ushers the opinionated away from the linesman and settles down for an agonising ten-second chat. There’s vigorous nodding. That has to be a good sign, right?

It is.

We’ve just seen the Goal of the Season, of arguably any Lewes season. Well, some us have. Some of us have seen little more than a panicked goalkeeper and a lot of arguing.

But what was it like to not just watch that goal go in, but take the free-kick? Here James Hammond tells me about his wonder-strike (apologies for the slight echo on the recording):

And, if, like me, you missed it at the time, well here it is again…

Rook divider

BECOME AN OWNER

It costs as little as £40 to become an owner of Lewes FC. For that, you not only get the inner glow of helping your local community-owned football club, but you get great discounts from dozens of retailers in the Lewes area and nationwide. You can join instantly by clicking the button below.

Rook divider

COME AND SEE OUR DOUBLE-WINNING 18s IN THE CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS

The men’s action doesn’t quite end here. On Tuesday, our double-winning Under-18s are back to take on Croydon in the semi-final of the Isthmian Youth League’s Champion of Champions contest.

For those not familiar with the format, the four Isthmian Youth League winners face each other in a knockout format, the winners of the two semi-finals going on to the final at Whyteleafe FC.

Please come and give the boys your support on Tuesday night!

Rook divider
Bostik League sponsors
Rook divider

TODAY’S OPPONENTS: AFC HORNCHURCH

Brinky’s dad’s been there, got the T-shirt

Founded in 1923 as Upminster Wanderers, they played in the Romford League until 1938 when they stepped up to the Spartan League, winning promotion to the Premier Division in 1951. In 1953 they joined the Delphian League, changed their name to Hornchurch & Upminster, and moved into their current home, Hornchurch Stadium, at Bridge Avenue, Upminster.

In 1959 the club were elected to the Athenian League and in 1961 changed their name to Hornchurch Football Club. They won the Division One championship in 1967, were relegated in 1969 and promoted back again in 1971. 1974/5 saw the club reach the Fifth Round of the very first FA Vase competition, where they lost to eventual finalists Epsom &  Ewell. That performance helped the club gain election to the Isthmian League.

In 1978 they suffered relegation but three years later they were back. Apart from a tenth-place finish in 1995 it would be 19 years before they again finished in the top half of the table, surviving several brushes with relegation before losing their Division One place in 1986 and continuing to struggle in Division Two North. Matters became even worse in 1989 when a fire destroyed the clubhouse and they found themselves in Division Three when the regionalised divisions of the Isthmian League were scrapped in 1991.

New owners saw a brief period of success, with back-to-back promotions in 2002 and 2003 taking Hornchurch into the Premier Division for the first time. Major ground improvements and a fifth-place finish in 2004 took them into the new Conference South. The 2003-4 season was notable for a run to the Second Round of the FA Cup in which Darlington were beaten 2-0 before Tranmere stole a controversial 1-0 victory in front of TV cameras and a capacity crowd at Bridge Avenue.

However, financial difficulties caught up with the club, and halfway through the following season the entire squad was released. Almost 100 players wore first-team shirts as they contrived to avert relegation despite a ten-point deduction.

But the off-pitch affairs could not be resolved and the club reformed under the name AFC Hornchurch in 2005, being placed by the FA in the Essex Senior League. They won the league at the first attempt to climb back into the Isthmian League. They won a second successive title in winning Division One North in 2007, amassing 103 points to finish 21 clear of runners-up Harlow, to gain promotion to the Premier Division. They also won the Essex Senior Cup for the first time in the club’s history, beating Great Wakering 2-1 at Southend United’s Roots Hall.

Success continued in the Premier Division as they finished fourth to secure a play-off place but lost 3-1 in the semi-final to AFC Wimbledon in front of a crowd of 2,897 at Kingsmeadow. The following season witnessed a 1-0 defeat by Peterborough United at a packed Bridge Avenue in the First Round of the FA Cup.

In 2012 AFC Hornchurch finished runners-up in the Premier Division, beating Bury and Lowestoft to secure promotion to the Conference South. However, they finished 20th the following season and were relegated. A fifth-place finish in the Isthmian League in 2014 saw them reach the play-offs, but they lost 0-3 to Lowestoft in the final. They suffered relegation in 2015, and the disappointment of missing out in the play-offs the following two seasons, but last season they won the Bostik North by 13 points.

They currently lie fifteenth in the table, having won their last two games: 3-2 at Kingstonian last Saturday and 3-0 at home to Harlow on Easter Monday.

MEET THE SQUAD

Mark Stimson – Manager

51 year-old Mark began his football career as a defender with the mighty Spurs, and went on to make 86 first-team appearances for Newcastle Utd. He has a wealth of managerial experience with Grays Athletic, Stevenage Borough, Gillingham, Barnet, Kettering Town, and more recently Thurrock and Waltham Abbey. Amongst his achievements are Conference South champions and twice FA Trophy winners when at Grays Athletic, FA Trophy winners at Stevenage Borough, and League 2 play-off winners at Gillingham. He assumed the reins at Hornchurch at the end of November 2018.

Callum Chafer – Goalkeeper

Callum rejoined Hornchurch in May 2018. He was originally part of their youth set-up, but moved on when opportunities for him were limited. He went on loan to Hertford Town and Redbridge, before signing for Romford, and then Bowers & Pitsea. Having matured and improved, the Urchins were happy to welcome him back.

Remi Sutton –Defender

Remi joined Hornchurch from Enfield Town in February 2019 and quickly made his debut in a 2-0 defeat for the Urchins at Bognor Regis. He started out with Basildon Utd before moving to Thurrock in 2013 where he made over 100 appearances. He has also played for Greenwich Borough.

George Winn – Defender

George signed for the Urchins from Waltham Abbey in December 2018. He can play at central-defender or full-back. He has also turned out for Redbridge, and Thurrock.

Glenn Wilson – Defender

Glenn is a centre-back who joined Hornchurch in January 2019 on dual registration from Wealdstone, making his debut in a 2-0 home win over Burgess Hill. He has previously played for AFC Wimbledon, Rushden & Diamonds, Kidderminster Harriers, Crawley Town, Fleetwood Town, Woking, Gateshead, Salisbury City, Aldershot Town, Margate, Greenwich Borough, Grays Athletic and Wealdstone…Phew.

Kenzer Lee – Defender/Midfielder

Kenzer signed for Hornchurch at the start of the 2016/17 season. A product of the West Ham youth academy, he has had spells at Oxford United, Banbury and Bishop’s Stortford prior to joining Hornchurch. 

Joe Christou – Midfielder

Joe signed from Tilbury in October 2014 making 15 appearances that season before moving to Thurrock where he made 104 appearances, scoring 19 goals. He joined up with Mark Stimson at Waltham Abbey at the start of the 2018/19 season, and re-signed for Hornchurch in December 2018.

Jack Glenister – Midfielder

All we know is Jack has appeared 5 times for Hornchurch and is yet to be on a losing side.

George Saunders – Midfielder

George spent 3 seasons at Billericay Town in their youth side before joining Harold Hill in the Essex Olympian League.  He then went to Kelvedon Hatch at the start of 2017/18 where he quickly established himself in their first team. George stepped up four divisions to play for Hornchurch in August 2018.

Lewwis Spence – Midfielder

Lewwis (that’s right) signed for Hornchurch in June 2018 and made his debut in August 2018 at Brightlingsea Regent. Lewwis’ previous clubs include Crystal Palace, Wycombe Wanderers, Rushden & Diamonds, Dover Athletic, Bishops Stortford, Greenwich Borough and Thurrock.

Jordan Clark – Midfielder

Jordan signed for Hornchurch last summer and made his debut in August 2018 in a 1-1 home draw with Bognor Regis Town. Previously with Thurrock he made 39 appearances in his final season at Ship Lane scoring 8 goals.

Sean Marks – Forward

Sean signed for the Urchins from Maidenhead United in May 2018 and scored on his debut for Hornchurch in a 3-0 home win over Leatherhead in August. An experienced striker, he played a leading role in Braintree’s remarkable rise to the highest echelon of non league football, scoring 25 goals when they won the Conference South in 2011.

George Purcell – Forward

George joined the Urchins from Margate in July 2013 and made his debut in that season’s opener against the mighty Lewes. He finished top scorer at the end of that season and repeated the feat over the next 2 seasons, scoring more than 100 goals.  George is a prolific striker who has previously played for Ebbsfleet United, Braintree Town, York City, Dartford, Eastbourne Borough, Dover Athletic and Tonbridge Angels.

Ronnie Winn – Forward

Ronnie signed for Hornchurch in December 2018 from Waltham Abbey. Ronnie is a striker who can also play wide left. He has previously played for Redbridge, and at Thurrock where he scored 31 goals in 120 appearances.

Sonny Dutton – Forward

Sonny is a youngster who progressed through the Hornchurch youth set-up and made his debut on 15th January 2019 in the Velocity Trophy Quarter-Final tie at home in their 4-1 win against Whitstable Town.

Charlie Stimson – Forward

Charlie is the centre-forward son of manager Mark, and signed from Waltham Abbey in December 2018. He has played for Gillingham, Barnet, and Tooting & Mitcham, and spent six seasons at Thurrock where he made 220 first team appearances returning 70 goals.

Rook divider
GR Teamwearer
Rook divider

WHERE WILL BE GOING NEXT SEASON?

Stuart Fuller looks at the teams that have been promoted to the Bostik Premier League

LEAGUE WINNERS

The North: Bowers & Pitsea

Basildon is blessed with not just one non-League club but two. Basildon United may get the rights to the town name, but Bowers & Pitsea will be playing in the Isthmian Premier League next season having stormed to the Isthmian League North title, and have the de facto title as the best club in the Essex town, famed for being the home of Depeche Mode AND Alison Moyet (what’s the link between those two pop pickers?). 

But what do you need to know before we head to Essex’s fourth biggest town next year? Since March 2010 Basildon has a miniature famous white Hollywood sign, reading “Basildon”. At five feet tall, the new sign is one-ninth of the height of the Hollywood original. This was aimed “to bring the town into the 21st century and to attract more visitors”. In 2017, Costa Coffee opened their new coffee roastery in Basildon, said to be Europe’s biggest coffee roastery.  The facility, dubbed “Paradise Street”, stands at 85,690 ft and can handle around 24 tonnes of coffee beans per hour.

More importantly, the Len Salmon Stadium is located at the end of a residential estate with few amenities close by. It is a fairly basic affair with three sides developed, one with an old main stand due to be replaced in the summer, although the covered terrace behind one goal is similar to that at Leatherhead and Merstham where you can generate a bit of noise.

The South-East: Cray Wanderers

We love Cray Wanderers. Six consecutive wins against the third oldest football team in the world back that up, including the last three victories that have seen six red cards shown to Cray players. The great news for Cray is that they have finally been able to start work on their new ground at Flamingo Park, which is on the A20 near Sidcup.  It won’t be ready for at least a season, but it has taken well over a decade of being the proverbial sofa-surfer to get to this point.

That means we will be heading back to Hayes Lane, home to Bromley FC, for next season, which is always a favourite away day out thanks to some excellent pubs in the town centre and good transport links. The ground itself continues its redevelopment as the landlords build for a potential Football League future. This season has seen the demolition of the stand behind the goal which had the wooden benches and an impressive structure with Executive boxes above the seated area go up.

The South-Central: Hayes & Yeading

At the time of writing we have no idea what option the FA will take in terms of the re-organisation of the leagues at Step 2 after all four relegated teams from the National Premier were very southern based. That has a ripple effect down the divisions and that could see Isthmian South Central Champions, Hayes & Yeading, move sideways into the Southern Premier South. But if not then we can expect a new experience in heading to the SkyEX Stadium in Hayes, which was under construction for years but completion was delayed due to financial issues. 

The club was formed in 2007 from a merger of Hayes Football Club (founded 1909) and Yeading Football Club (founded 1960) and played three seasons in the now National Premier League.  Our last competitive meeting was back in our promotion season of 2007/08 when we beat them 2-1 at the Pan in front of 531 fans on a sunny August day, whilst in the return match the score line was reversed.

The new stadium isn’t the easiest to get to by public transport.  Hayes & Harlington Rail Station is 15 minutes from Paddington and easily reached from the East. From here it is best to take a 5-10 minute cab ride to the ground, as it is a good 30 minutes plus walk through Hayes Town up Coldharbour Lane and onto the Uxbridge Road.

THE PLAY-OFF WANNABIES

The North

In the Bostik League North, the play-off spots were decided some weeks ago, with the teams still battling it out for position and home advantage. Aveley look in pole-position for second spot, winning 6-0 on Good Friday against AFC Sudbury and then 2-0 at Barking on Tuesday. They moved into their impressive Parkside ground two years ago and it is certainly one of the best grounds we would hope to visit at our level. However, for those hoping to travel by public transport it isn’t really walkable from either Purfleet or South Ockenden railway stations. For those driving it is 5 minutes from Junction 31 of the M25.

In the Bostik League North, the play-off spots were decided some weeks ago, with the teams still battling it out for position and home advantage. Aveley look in pole-position for second spot, winning 6-0 on Good Friday against AFC Sudbury and then 2-0 at Barking on Tuesday.  They moved into their impressive Parkside ground two years ago and it is certainly one of the best grounds we would hope to visit at our level. However, for those hoping to travel by public transport it isn’t really walkable from either Purfleet or South Ockenden railway stations. For those driving it is 5 minutes from Junction 31 of the M25.

Maldon & Tiptree have been in the play-offs recently and they were on course for second spot before Monday’s defeat at relegation threatened Witham Town. The club play in Maldon which doesn’t have a railway station, the nearest being Hatfield Peverel some 8 miles away, which is a similar story to local rivals Heybridge Swifts who are located across the River Chelmer. Swifts last season reached the FA Cup First Round, losing away at Exeter City and have invested some of that cash in their promotion push .

The final side in the play-offs and hoping to leap-frog Maldon & Tiptree to get home advantage is Coggeshall Town which, in keeping with the other three sides in the play-offs, doesn’t have its own train station; Kelvedon 3 miles to the south being the closest. The club is part funded by Ollie Murs who used to play for the club, but let’s not hold that against them.

The South East

As with the North, all of the play-off spots have been decided in advance of the final game of the season. Horsham finished off their season with a win at Guernsey last weekend and have already secured second place, and thus a home game at Lancing in the play-offs. With their new ground due to be ready for the start of next season, and the club always bringing a decent support to the Pan, I’m sure a few Rooks fans will be rooting for them in the play-offs.

Hastings United are third at the moment and will be nervously looking over their shoulders at Ashford United, who face fifth place and final play-off club Haywards Heath Town on Saturday.  Town have enjoyed a fine first season at step four, boosted by a former Rook or two including Alex Laing, George Landais and Bryon Napper. It would certainly be a short journey for most Rooks fans although the Hanbury Stadium is a fair walk from the train station.

The South-Central

There’s going to be few Rooks fans who can say they have been to one, let alone all four of the play-off sides in the South-Central league.  Bracknell Town came up from Step 5 last season and have been impressive in their debut season, hoping to top the 100 goals scored mark today as they host Ashford Town (Middlesex). Their ground is an oasis of green amid the concrete jungle of Bracknell and is relatively short walk from the train station.

Bracknell Town could still be pipped for second place by both Cheshunt and Marlow.  The former is managed by Craig Edwards and have a “distinct” style of play, whilst Marlow have been adversaries of the Rooks in years gone by. Their two grounds couldn’t be more contrasting. Cheshunt play just off the A10 and a few miles north of Junction 25 of the M25. It’s a very basic ground despite hosting Tottenham Hotspur Ladies for the last couple of years, with a couple of identikit stands and little else, although it is a short walk from Theobalds Grove station.

Marlow is a beautiful place on the banks of the Thames and full of character (read pubs).  The ground is a 10-minute walk from the station and boasts a fabulous old main stand. However, based on their location, should they win the play-offs there’s a good chance they will be shifted sideways into the Southern Premier League structure.

The final team in the play-offs is Westfields, whose location is a bit of a mystery to many. They are located a stone’s throw away from Woking FC, about ten minutes south of the train station which is well served from London.

Rook divider

It costs only £50 to sponsor a player or manager for home or away Kit. £25 for training kit and boots. All funds raised go to Lewes FC Supporters Club, helping to fund Lewes FC throughout the season.

Contact: david.arnold@me.com or see David or Barbara on match days.

DARREN FREEMAN
HOME: REG FREEMAN
AWAY: DAVE LAMB

ROSS STANDEN
HOME: DAVID & BARBARA ARNOLD
AWAY: CATHY FELTHAM

STEVE BRINKHURST
HOME: RON PIDGEON
AWAY:
TRAINING KIT & BOOTHS: ETHEL TREAGUS

FRANKIE CHAPPELL
HOME: ED BRIGGS
AWAY: ED BRIGGS
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS:  ED BRIGGS

DAYSHONNE GOLDING
HOME KIT: HAIR FOR MEN, 16 MARKET ST, LEWES

NICO COTTON
HOME: JAMES BRIGGS
AWAY: JAMES BRIGGS
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS: JAMES BRIGGS

JAMES HAMMOND
HOME: ROOK, CANNON AND HORSE ASSOCIATES LTD
AWAY: LUCAS WARNER
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS: LUCAS WARNER

LUKE BLEWDEN
HOME: SUSIE ARLETT
AWAY:
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS: SUSIE ARLETT

LLOYD COTTON:
HOME: STUART FULLER
AWAY: STUART FULLER
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS: STUART FULLER

BILLY MEDLOCK
HOME: DAVE LAMB
AWAY: DAVE LAMB

STACEY FREEMAN
HOME: ROGER WARNER
AWAY: ROGER WARNER
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS: ROGER WARNER

HARRY REED
HOME: ANDY ROSSITTER
AWAY: SAM & JOE BARKER
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS:

LEWIS CAREY
HOME: DAVID & BARBARA ARNOLD
AWAY:
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS:

RONNIE CONLON
HOME: NEIL FINNEY
AWAY: LUCAS WARNER
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS: SUSIE ARLETT

JONTE SMITH
HOME: BARRY HAFFENDEN
AWAY: JASON FOULKES
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS: LUCAS WARNER

OMARR LAWSON
HOME: TONY HARMAN
AWAY: YEOVIL JOHN
TRAINING KIT & BOOTS: LUCAS WARNER

MICHAEL DOME-BEMWIN
HOME: DAVE EVANS

LEON REDWOOD
HOME: WILL & COLIN KEMP

CLUB SHOP MANAGER, BARRY HAFFENDEN
PROUDLY SPONSORED BY HAIR FOR MEN, 16 MARKET ST, LEWES

If you wish to sponsor a player, contact David Arnold at the Supporters Club.

Rook divider

STODGEBUSTERS ON TOUR

The boys in search of a burger make a final trip of the season to Burgess Hill

A very short trip for the final away game, and for the first time this season The Stodgebusters were stumped as to where to have lunch. The promising looking cafe near Wivelsfield station didn’t answer their phone in the days leading up to the game. We only wanted to know if they would be open on Easter Monday. In the end we gave up and didn’t bother. Well, at least we could have lunch with our nearest and dearest and get a later train, although PJ had to have lunch with his missus.

On a glorious sunny day PJ and Gary the Badge joined Roly on the 13.48 out of Lewes armed with jelly babies and Butter Mintoes. Gracing us with his presence (and helping us get a cheap Group ticket for this trip) was Gary the Post.

Twenty five minutes later we were in the Green Elephants Stadium, although for us old ‘uns it’s always Leylands Park. PJ had arranged to meet a couple of ex-work colleagues in the bar and introduce them to proper football rather than the Mickey Mouse Premiership stuff they usually watched.

After a couple of drinks in the bar it was time for the serious stuff. Well, it was certainly serious for Burgess Hill. Whereas Lewes were in a safe, solid mid-table position, the home team were in a bit of relegation bother. They really needed to win this game and/or hope other results went their way. We wanted revenge for that awful New Years Day defeat at the Pan.

There was an impressive Bank Holiday crowd of almost 800 for this one. A good number of Lewes fans had made the short journey too. Golden Goal Ethel was there with her two minders keeping her in check and ensuring that she didn’t try and start any trouble with the opposing supporters.

It was a pretty cagey opening half. The pitch was very dry and seemed very bobbly which played havoc with Lewes’ silky smooth passing game.  Burgess Hill probably had the better of the chances but Lewes had a very good shout for a penalty when a home defender handled the ball in the area. Unfortunately the referee and lino were two of the few who didn’t see it. Mind you, the referee was no Usain Bolt and was about 40 yards behind play when it happened. It remained 0-0 at half time.

Burgess Hill came out faster in the second half but Lewes held firm. Firm until the 72nd minute that is when the Hillians had the ball in the back of the net. There was relief at the Lewes end, though, when the referee disallowed the goal for some infringement. We didn’t have a clue why it was disallowed. The home crowd didn’t know why either and voiced their displeasure at the ref. But the lack of protest from the home team suggested that they knew why it was disallowed.

Even worse news for the Hillians was that relegation rivals Wingate and Finchley had scored a couple of quick goals and were leading 2-1 away at second placed Haringey. How on earth had they done that? If that turned out to be the final score then Burgess Hill simply had to win. Shortly afterwards the ball was in our net again. A fine cross was met by unmarked ex-Rook Dan Beck who headed the ball emphatically past Lewis Carey. Hillians fans went crazy. That could have be the goal that kept them up.

Lewes hadn’t been at their best but had made a couple of good chances in the second half. However it looked like a goal would never come. The minutes ticked by. The Hillians slowed the game right down. 88th minute and Lewes got a free kick on their left. Hammo swung in a low free kick and substitute Olajuwon Adeyemo stooped to get the faintest of touches with his head to divert the ball past the keeper.  What a heartbreaker for Burgess Hill. They threw the kitchen sink at Lewes during added time but couldn’t force a winner.

It hadn’t been the best footballing spectacle ever but PJ’s guests had enjoyed the non-league experience and promised to visit the Pan next season. Two more possible owners.

Wingate, amazingly, held on to win 2-1, so unless Burgess Hill can beat them 8-0 in the final game to turn around their inferior goal difference they will be relegated. It was a bit of a shame it had to be Lewes who virtually snuffed out their survival hopes. We like Burgess Hill. We like their manager, ex Rook favourite Simon Wormull. And their legendary kit man Pav.

Southern Rail had to have the final word though. Back At Wivelsfield all trains were delayed. Great. We hung around on the platform while the constantly changing information board confused us and contradicted everything on the Tannoy. After about 20 minutes a Lewes train suddenly appeared. It turned out this train was actually about 1 hour and 20 minutes late(!) Well done Southern.

So that’s it for another season of away game adventures and pre-match feasting. What a good one it has been. However, pre-season training begins almost immediately for PJ with a heavy session at The Green Man next week followed up with regular workouts at Mac’s Cafe and virtually every restaurant in Brighton Marina. Gary the Badge can be seen keeping in trim at the Polegate Harvester.

But now comes that time of year we dread. We like the summer but hate the lack of football. It’s difficult having to keep thinking up excuses to avoid being dragged to along to nightmarish places such as Dunelm Mill, Primark or Debenhams on a Saturday afternoon. And PJ’s missus can be quite persuasive when she has got him in her speciality head-lock. Roll on the pre-season friendlies.

**Fancy being a Stodgebuster next season? New recruits always welcome. Experience of good cafes preferred but not essential. Contact a member with your C.V.

Rook divider

TOMORROW AT THE PAN

Rook divider

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

See you next season

Rook divider

CREDITS AND LEGAL

The BetVictor Isthmian League strongly support recent FA statements that there should be a zero tolerance approach against racism and all forms of discrimination. Accordingly, any form of discriminatory abuse, whether it be based on race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, faith, age, ability or any other form of abuse will be reported to The Football Association for action by that Association. (The FA 0800 085 0508/Kick It Out 020 7253 0162)

Lewes 2000 FC Limited. Registered in England and Wales with Company Registration Number 03790979. Lewes 2000 FC Limited is 100% owned by Lewes Community Football Club.

Honorary President Terry Parris
Chairman Stuart Fuller
Directors
Charlie Dobres, Eddie Ramsden, Stuart Fuller, John Peel, Ed Briggs, Jon Ruben, Roger Warner, Galia Orme
Non-executive directors Michelle Bowie Krige, Karen Dobres, Steve Keegan
Club Secretary
Barry Collins
Youth Secretary Kevin Brook
Operations Manager Duncan Thompson

Equality FC Campaign Manager Karen Dobres

Life Members
Mr and Mrs Brook, Vic Blunt, Pat Dartnell, Gary Elphick, Gordon Fowlie, Peter Hiscox, Billy Nixon, Derrick Parris, Terry Parris, Jimmy Quinn, P. Swaysland, Steve Ibbitson, Jason Hopkinson, Steve White, Martin Elliot, Kevin Fingerneissl, Kevin Powell, David and Barbara Arnold, Roger and Cathy Feltham, Ethel Treagus, Roy Dartnell RIP, Ron Moore, Derek Southouse, Ray Smith, Ken Carter RIP


Co-Managers Ross Standen and Tony Coade
Physiotherapists Paul Baskin & Xavier Smith

Under-18s Manager Dale Hurley
Under-18s Assistant Manager Craig Stevens
Under-18s coaches Jake Legrange and Johnny Buggy

Golden Rook Rob Read
Web Editor Stuart Fuller
Progcast Editors Paul Sheppard and Duncan Thompson
Progcast Designer Barry Collins
Club Photographer James Boyes