Welcome to The Dripping Pan for our BetVictor Isthmian Premier League game with Cray Wanderers. Here is your complimentary matchday programme, which we call the Progcast.
In today’s issue:
- Open letter from Darren Freeman
- Ross reflects on Darren’s rein
- Chairman’s Notes
- The Daz Trivia Challenge
- Darren’s 11 best signings
- Today’s opponents: Cray Wanderers
- Stodgebusters on Tour
OPEN LETTER FROM DARREN FREEMAN
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the miles you’ve driven, the trains you have ridden, games you’ve attended home and away and chants you’ve started. Your support has been amazing and something I will cherish and remember for ever.
All good things come to an end and that moment has come for me as my time at this fantastic football club has come to an end. I am off to pastures new but still staying within football.
Whilst playing for Brentford I was lucky enough to meet my good friend Dirk Hebel who is now co-owner of a football agency based in Germany called SportsTotal. They have offered me a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a full-time role within the company something I couldn’t turn down.
I have always prided myself on giving everything 100% of my attention. Unfortunately, this role simply does not allow me to give Lewes Football Club the attention it needs so it is with a heavy heart I have decided to step down as first team manager with today’s game against Cray Wanderers being my last in charge.
We have shared some special memories over the past four years I’ve been at the Dripping Pan and this decision has been one of the hardest I have ever had to make. I can never forget the support you all have me and the team during our promotion season which is up there with my greatest moments I’ve experienced in football. I’ve always had a special relationship with Lewes and rest assured I won’t be a stranger, being able to enjoy a beer on the terraces – you never know the Chairman may even buy a round!
As well as you the fans, I have been fortunate enough to be supported by, in my opinion, one of the best back room teams in Non-League football. I have worked with my assistant Ross Standen for over nine years but have known him as a friend for over 36.
Ross has been nothing but supportive during my time at Lewes Football Club. Myself and Ross are more like a married couple, we don’t always see eye to eye and who can forget the endless phone calls exchanged on a daily basis. But I couldn’t have wished for a better person to have in dugout with me. The club are extremely lucky to have an excellent coach who, in my opinion and more importantly, is a fantastic person. Over the years we have shared many special memories and this is down to our teamwork and the way Ross has supported me endlessly with all my decisions. I’m sure you’ll all continue to get behind Ross in the coming weeks.
Tony Coade, or Codge as we all know and love him, has supported us superbly as first-team coach. He has shown a great deal of loyalty to myself, Ross and Lewes Football Club. He is a top coach who has assisted in the development of both the team and individuals within our squad, helping them achieve their goals and dreams. I have been aware of Tony’s talents as a coach for several years, I tried to get him to join our backroom team whilst at Whitehawk. So when we persuaded him to join us at Lewes, I was over the moon and, during our four years together, I have not only witnessed his coaching skills first-hand but our friendship has blossomed and I now have the privilege of calling Tony a friend. He still hasn’t forgiven me for dismissing his heart attack at Shoreham two seasons ago as indigestion from a dodgy pie. The team are in great hands in the next few weeks with Codge and Ross in the dugout.
Paul Baskin and Match Day Trev have been with me from day one on my managerial journey at Whitehawk. The support they have both offered myself, Ross and the players has been unquestionable, from hospital referrals, calling in favours, holding substitutes numbers up and standing in the howling wind and rain performing rehabs.
Match Day Trev is currently in sunnier climes as he is again starring in the latest series of Benidorm; this is something myself and Ross where happy to support him in. All the best Trev as Tim Healey’s body double in the TV Series Benidorm. We are now teaching these dinosaurs the latest in medical care and attention by bringing Xavier up to speed as lead physio, but of course he’s still learning from the old guard. Cheers guys.
None of this would have been possible without Barry and Stuart, who trusted me and gave me the opportunity to manage this great football club, although this nearly wasn’t the case as I didn’t wear socks at my interview, a fact Stuart pointed out within seconds of me walking in.
Barry must cringe every time I call with endless requests, seven-day approaches and much more. I think it’s safe to say Barry’s partner Lucy will be breathing a sigh of relief reading this letter because I won’t be bothering him anymore. I feel Barry’s contribution to the cause goes slightly unnoticed at the football club – he has been the cog that keeps the wheel spinning on the football side, from acting as kit man, media man, secretary and countless other roles. I even contemplated putting him in the squad on one occasion, but when he turned up to training in the latest Clarke’s shoes and a pie and chips, I realised that was probably a bridge too far for him.
The Chairman, Stuart, is someone who has supported me from day one (and before) and someone who has backed every decision I have made, even if it wasn’t something he agreed with, which has at times put him at odds with others. I can honestly say I have never known or worked for a Chairman who has been so loyal to the club and to me, and has a clear vision for what success looks like at Lewes, enabling him to get the most out of all members of staff. We again have shared some special memories from the league promotion and end-of-season trip to Portugal where he took his Chairman’s hat off and enjoyed a great weekend away with players and staff; to our weekly dissections of our performances and suggestions that even at his young age, he could “still do a job at centre back” for us. The mark of a good Chairman is someone who respects and is respected by everyone, and it is clear to see at Lewes, he has always gone out of his way to talk to, understand and help the staff, players and supporters.
Our relationship spreads far beyond Chairman and Manager, no matter where he is in the world he has always been available to take calls, offer support and just be someone to talk to in times of need, for this I will be forever grateful.
Dale Hurley and previous to him, Alex Walsh have done a fantastic job with our youngsters and we now have an U18s team that is the envy of the South-East. Top work guys and I look forward to seeing some of those Lewes youngsters in the professional game in the future.
Lastly, but definitely not least, I would like to thank all the players who have played for me over the past four years (and there has been a fair few, just ask Baz!). We have had laughs, jokes, smiles, tears and some excellent X-Factor auditions in the changing rooms. The commitment, dedication and focus from every player who has been involved with me at Lewes has been an absolute credit to themselves and the club.
From pre-season running around Lewes to 97th minute winners, we have always been one team when we have won, drawn or lost, learning improving and supporting each other along the way. I will always remember the laughs, jokes and fantastic memories we have as group.
These boys are more than just players to me, they are friends. I have always acted with the same principles with every player who has represented the football club in that it’s how would I like my son to be treated if he was in this squad, and that is something that has stood me in extremely good stead. Thanks, lads.
The list of people and volunteers I could thank would be endless, but I would like to thank our groundsmen team Roger, Chalkie and volunteers for the amount of unseen work they put into the club in their own time. The club wouldn’t function without you all.
I’d also like to say thanks to Ed and Charlie, who care deeply about the club. They’ve been a great support since I joined the club, only wanting to see a bright future for Lewes Football Club, likewise the rest of the board who have supported me in ways that aren’t always visible, such as Ed Briggs who masterminded the Kappa deal and John Peel who co-ordinates the volunteers who are so valuable to the club.
I am not going to be a stranger at the football club and hope to see you all soon. Look forward to seeing you in the bar (the Chairman’s buying!) at the end of today’s game for a drink.
Thanks for the great memories and get behind the boys this afternoon.
ROSS REFLECTS ON DARREN’S REIGN
Few people know Darren Freeman better than his assistant, friend and old teammate, Ross Standen. Here he talks to Barry Collins about his time with The Gaffer.
My original notes for today’s game can still be read below but events from the last few days has meant they have been superseded. These are tough notes to right in some ways but also have a happy ending, sort of.
No one person defines a football club but it is fair to say that in the past four years, Darren Freeman has come as close to that as possible. It has been a hard few days of deep discussion about his role, his new career and what is best for Lewes Football Club. Unfortunately, Darren decided that this was too good an opportunity to pass up and without being able to commit 100% to the club, his own ethics and standards meant that he decided to step down.
Darren has become a very good and loyal friend to me over the past few years. His loyalty is unquestionable and that is what has made the last few days so hard. But I also understand his ambitions and the role he has been offered and I am so pleased for him that he has this fantastic opportunity.
Darren’s playing career was cruelly cut short due to injury and he understands only too well about seizing opportunities as they come along before life has its say. He could have left us in the summer to take the role but he felt that he couldn’t let the club down. That is Darren all over – always thinking of others. Sometimes you need to put yourself first.
We’ve shared so many good moments in his period at the club, and whilst I was always good cop to Barry’s bad cop, he has on occasion disagreed with some of my decisions, choosing to sulk like a naughty schoolboy, only to phone me later (perhaps with the words of advice from his wife Lorraine in his ear) to say sorry. On one, very topical incident, when he got sent off here against Cray Wanderers three seasons ago, he sent me a text at midnight that simply said “Sorry I got sent off today” with a sad face emoji. It’s hard to be mad with someone after that.
We (Darren, Ross, Barry and I) have worked as a very tight unit over the past few years and it was that teamwork and strategic planning that saw us promoted two seasons ago as part of our three-year strategy. Darren’s vision on the way we wanted to play and the players that we needed in the key positions was instrumental in that.
His out of football dress sense leaves a bit to be desired – from turning up to an interview for the job wearing a smart suit, brown loafers and no socks to the pair of curtains he wore on a night out last year in Portugal, I believe it is classed “individual”. His choice of music is also “interesting”. A few years ago after a win at Canvey Island we said in his post-match interview he was going to celebrate with a bit of Chris de Burgh… Sure enough a few minutes later, Lady in Red was blaring out of the stereo in the dressing room with the players making a very quick exit, still half dressed.
We are lucky to have Ross and Codge happy to take the reins for the foreseeable future and they will be instrumental in our plans for the future. I am sure you’ll all get behind them and the team.
So farewell Gaffer, the club won’t be the same without you…
Good afternoon and welcome back to the Pan for this afternoon’s Isthmian Premier League match against our old friends, Cray Wanderers. I’d like to welcome their fans, players, management, officials and especially my fellow Chairman, Gary, who I have had the pleasure of knowing for a few years outside of the trials and tribulations of Non-League football.
Cray Wanderers will very soon be my local club, when they open their new ground at Flamingo Park on the A20 near Sidcup. It is a very ambitious project, but it is one that will finally see them having their own home again after a nomadic number of years and that is a very exciting prospect not only for the club and its fans, but also for the area with the community facilities they will build.
The recent games between the two sides have certainly been full of incident with a hatful of goals and five sending offs. The game at Hayes Lane in January 2017 was one of the finest performances we have put in for many years, with the Rooks opening the scoring in the first minute and Chris Winterton almost single-handedly stopping a late Cray onslaught to give the Rooks a 2-1 at the then league leaders.
It’s been a while since we were last at home in the league. We’ve had three tough away trips and have come back with four points from those. Our win at Brightlingsea Regent was fully deserved with a second-half onslaught on the home side’s goal that eventually led to our injury time winner. We fully deserved at least a point at Carshalton Athletic and last Saturday one defensive slip on a treacherous surface was the difference between the two sides at East Thurrock United. With players returning from injury, we can now start to get a settled side and I hope the sickness that was spreading around the squad last weekend has abated.
Once again results in the league continue to be mixed. A win today and we can jump up to 11th place whilst even a draw could see up drop into the bottom three. Whilst a quarter of the season has passed no one really, apart from Folkestone Invicta, has shown the consistency at the top of the table yet. Talking of Invicta, we head down to Folkestone in the FA Trophy next Saturday. Whilst that is a tough draw, we know that to progress in any cup competition you need to put league form to one side and it is certainly a game that the management team feel that we can win.
We are still on the hunt for a couple of players to strengthen the squad as we approach a busy two months where we will potentially play thirteen more games before Christmas, including our Sussex Senior Cup game here against Three Bridges. Talking of strikers (well players in general) it was great to see Jonte Smith score a hat-trick for Cheltenham Town last week, even if it was against my other team West Ham. It is always great to see our former players doing so well.
Just a reminder that we are back here on Wednesday night when we host Corinthian-Casuals, kick off 7:45pm and then on Thursday night we will be holding a Fans Forum in the Rook Inn from 7pm. All are welcome to come and ask questions to the board.
Get behind the team and Come On You Rooks!
THE DAZ TRIVIA CHALLENGE
Think you know The Gaffer better than he knows himself? Answer Kev Brook’s ten Freeman-themed questions and then see how many the man himself gets right.
Bald bloke, bit shouty, stood in the dugout for the past four seasons? You clearly don’t recognise him, but see if he did any better answering the same questions about himself by clicking below:
#1 During Darren’s four years in charge, which player has made most appearances for Lewes?
#2 In Darren’s first match in charge of the Rooks, a 4-0 defeat at Grays Athletic, which player received his marching orders, and unsurprisingly never made another Rooks appearance?
#3 Darren’s first win as Rooks manager was a thumping 8-1 victory over Hailsham Town in the Sussex Senior Cup. Which current Rooks scored a brace that evening?
#4 In that’s same match, which former forward bagged four goals, which were his only goals for Lewes?
#5 Which player scored the goal to secure Darren’s first League win as Lewes manager, a 1-0 home win against Farnborough in December 2015?
#6 During Darren’s three full seasons in charge, which player scored the most goals, in all competitions, in a single season?
#7 Which club did Darren make most professional appearances for?
#8 If you’ve ever spoken with Darren the chances you know that he scored the first goal of the new millennium when he netted in an early kick-off against in January 2000 but who did that goal come against?
#9 When Darren was playing for Worthing in April 2004 (boooo!) what was the most notable thing about his appearance against the Rooks in a 2-2 draw?
#10 You might remember Darren in his younger days when he had a full head of long hair but who did he reportedly model his flowing locks on?
DARREN’S 11 BEST SIGNINGS
Club Secretary Barry Collins picks his first XI of Darren Freeman signings
I’ve signed forms for well over 100 players for Lewes during my time as Club Sec, so picking 11 of the best Darren signings over the four years he’s been in charge wasn’t easy. Here’s my final XI. Sorry to all the great players who didn’t make the cut.
GOALKEEPER – CHRIS WINTERTON
This was a close-run thing. The guy in goal for today’s opposition, Lewis Carey, was a superb replacement for Winnie, and has the best distribution of any keeper I’ve seen at this level. But Winnie just edges it. He was one of Darren’s first signings and immediately settled a position that had been a problem for us for the previous two seasons. He was reliable, a big presence in the back line, and a great guy to boot.
RIGHT BACK – STEVE BRINKHURST
An obvious choice, but until he tore his knee at Merstham last winter, Brinky was an almost ever-present under Darren – and our league form since betrays just how much we’ve missed him. “Mr Lewes” is more than just a reliable right-back. He’s popular with the fans, popular in the dressing room and he has a goalscoring record that’s second to none*.
(* When compared only with goalkeepers)
LEFT BACK – LEON REDWOOD
Another tough choice. Matt George deserves more than an honourable mention, because he was as solid as they come for the year or so he filled the left-back slot. But when Matty got injured, Darren persuaded Leon to come back on a short-term basis. He’s been here ever since. Matty might have a slight edge on Leon when it comes to raw defending, but Leon’s ability to get forward, deliver whipped crosses into the middle and his underrated precision from set-pieces meant Matty couldn’t get back in the side. Let’s hope Leon’s over the worst of his injuries, as he’s crucial to our shape.
CENTRE BACK – FRANKIE CHAPPELL
Frankie arrived with a knee injury that meant he missed all of pre-season, and in his first start was arguably to blame for a Thamesmead goal just a minute into the match. He’s barely put a foot wrong since. Frankie was immense in the promotion season, adding a touch of snarling guile and leadership that our young squad was lacking. Take it from me: he has a handshake that could crush walnuts. Forwards beware.
CENTRE BACK – LLOYD COTTON
I’m cheating slightly here, because Lloyd was signed as a midfielder. However, I always felt he performed better at centre-back and so I’m slotting him alongside Frankie. Sue me. Lloyd – to use Darren’s vernacular – would always runs his balls off in every game and led by example. Especially on the team nights out…
CENTRE MIDFIELD – LLOYD HARRINGTON
Probably my most controversial pick, but Lloyd was an absolutely pivotal signing in Darren’s first full season. We hadn’t started well in our first season in the South and Lloyd was drafted in after a 5-0 hammering at Faversham. He made an immediate impact, helping us to a 3-1 win at Sittingbourne in the next game and was a big presence in midfield – and in the changing room – for the rest of that season.
CENTRE MIDFIELD – JAMES HAMMOND
Another tough call, with Gus Sow, Omarr Lawson and Michael Dome-Bemwin all pressing claims for this shirt. But Hammo edges it for consistency and the ability to pull something extraordinary out of the bag. That halfway line goal against Worthing, for example. One of Darren’s early recruits, he’s been the mainstay of the midfield ever since.
LEFT WINGER – JAMIE BROTHERTON
The ‘Bostik Bergkamp’ got bums off seats and was the most entertaining player of the Freeman era. He never did pre-season, never ventured below XL in the shorts and was regularly on the end of a yelled “JAAAAMMIIIE!” from Daz when he failed to track back for the 18th time in a brief cameo appearance. But, my God, he was fun to watch.
RIGHT WINGER – STEPHEN OKOH
Another play who burst onto the scene, shone brightly and then quickly buggered off – but what an impact he made in that short spell. He racked up 15 goals, including a ridiculous solo effort at Guernsey. He’s back knocking around the Non-League scene, after a brief spell in Scotland.
STRIKER – BILLY MEDLOCK
Darren tried to sign Billy Medlock from almost the moment he walked through the door. He finally got him in 2017/18 and, boy, was it worth the wait. He racked up goals at the rate that other strikers rack up passes, scoring ten in four games during his most purple of patches. He ended up top scorer in the promotion season, outshining his strike partner in my team.
STRIKER – JONTE SMITH
Jonte was a class act from the moment he first joined in 2016. His finishing was both relaxed and outrageous, but he lacked physical presence. Darren eventually sorted that out, turning Jonte into a terrific all-round striker who’s now gone on to the professional game at Cheltenham, where he scored a hat-trick against West Ham’s kids a couple of weeks ago.
TODAY’S OPPONENTS: CRAY WANDERERS
Cray Wanderers stake a claim to being one of the oldest football clubs in the world, tracing their origins to 1860. They currently ground-share at Bromley FC while awaiting the development of a new ground at the Flamingo Sports Centre in St. Paul’s Cray.
Much of their history has been spent in the Kent and various London leagues, and includes winning the London League in 1957 and 1958; the Aetolian League in 1963; the Greater London League in 1966, the Metropolitan-London League in 1975; and the Spartan League in 1977 and 1978.
Cray won the Kent League in 1981, and again in both 2003 and 2004. The latter success, which included an appearance in the FA Vase quarter-final, secured promotion to the Isthmian League. In 2009 Cray won promotion to the Premier Division, achieving their highest ever league placing of ninth in both 2011 and 2012, before being relegated to Division One North in 2014.
In 2016 Cray were beaten in the play-offs and then transferred to Division One South. In 2018 they finished third (the year we finished second behind Carshalton to gain automatic promotion), but once again suffered defeat in the play-offs.
Last season Cray won the re-organised South-East Division to gain promotion to the Premier Division. They currently lie tenth in the league, with three wins, five draws and two defeats from their opening ten games.
MEET THE SQUAD
Tony Russell – Manager
Tony came to Cray in the summer of 2015 from VCD Athletic. His impact was immediate taking a club that had faced relegation to the Southern Counties East League the previous season to top the league by Christmas was an outstanding achievement. Viewed by the club as one of the great thinkers of the game, Tony was voted Isthmian South-East Manager of the Year in 2018-19 and is looking to achieve in his second crack in this Premier division.
Lewis Carey – Goalkeeper
Well, we know all about Lewis who was our player of the year last season. Technically possibly the best goalkeeper in the Isthmian Premier, Lewis was a wise acquisition for Cray.
Tom Carlse – Defender
Tom is a gifted full-back with his combination of attacking forays and defensive qualities who joined Cray in March 2019 from Ashford United.
Harry Hudson – Defender
Harry is a highly rated centre-back who came through the West Ham United Youth system in 2017 and signed for Watford in July 2017 and has signed on a two month loan.
Jay Leader – Defender
Centre-back Jay has had a great couple of years with Cray Wanderers winning the Supporter’s Player of the Year in 2017-18 as well as the Manager and Player’s Player award. Last season he topped that by being voted Isthmian South-East Player of the Year and is also selected for the respective Isthmian South & South-East Managers Team of the Season for the last two years.
Mitchell Nelson – Defender
Viewed by Cray as an exceptionally gifted strong tackler and a decisive header of the ball, Mitchell started out as a youth player at Colchester United. Mitchell has played for a host of clubs and joined Cray in the summer of 2017.
Geofrey Okonkwo – Defender
Cray signed central defender Geofrey in August 2019 from Greenwich Borough after impressing in a match against Cray the previous April.
Barney Williams – Defender/Captain
Barney is a versatile full-back who can play right or left who came to Cray in the summer of 2017. Barney played for Cray boss Tony Russell whilst he was at VCD Athletic during their Isthmian North promotion season in 2013-14 and brings National League experience following his spells at Welling and Braintree. He was appointed club captain in the summer of 2018.
Charles Etumnu – Defender/Midfielder
Charles is seen as a tremendous tackler who can play at the back as well as midfield. He impressed with his performances for the Development League side in 2018-19 and deservedly earned his first team league debut last April.
Lee Lewis – Defender/Midfielder
Having joined the club just last season Lee is regarded by Cray as a hugely talented prospect, a great passer and striker of the ball.
Charlie Allen – Midfielder
Charlie is one of the famous Allen footballing dynasty, a newcomer to Cray Wanderers having arrived from Dulwich Hamlet.
Andre Coker – Midfielder
Andre was part of Crystal Palace Development team and made 21 appearances for the U23s before making his debut for Maidstone in the second half of the 2017-18 season. Cray were delighted to snap the winger up on his releas by Maidstone.
Karl Dent – Midfielder
Karl joined Cray from VCD Athletic in the summer of 2015 and is regarded as the real creative hub of the side.
Jerome Federico – Midfielder
Jerome returned to Cray Wanderers during the summer of 2018 after an earlier spell with the club. He made 30 appearances in 2018-19 scoring three goals and helping Cray win the Isthmian South-East title.
Ben Mundele – Midfielder
Ben re-signed for Cray in September after moving to Bury for a brief period. Ben is Mr versatile who can play in defence, midfield, and up front. He made 130 appearances for Cray over three seasons helping the club win the Isthmian South-East Championship last season and reach the Isthmian South play-offs the year before scoring 15 goals. He represented England ‘C’ last season against the Bedfordshire FA and was voted Player’s Player of the Year in 2018-19.
Tom Phipp – Midfielder
Described as a tremendous box-to-box player Tom spent some time out of the game to complete a Marketing Degree, and is an intelligent and gifted player. He made 29 appearances in 2018-19 guiding Cray to the Isthmian South-East title and added 3 goals with powerful shooting from distance.
Bradley Pritchard – Midfielder
Formerly with Charlton Athletic, Leyton Orient, and Greenwich Borough, Bradley made 32 appearances for Cray in 2018-19 scoring 5 goals, and was a vital part of the team which won the Isthmian South-East title. He was voted Cray’s Player of the Year by the supporters and Player’s Player, and for the last two seasons has been chosen for the Team of the Year in the Isthmian South and South-East.
Tom Murphy – Forward
Tom had a season with us in 2010, and has also played at Farnborough, Horsham, Margate, Dover Athletic, Maidstone, and Dartford
Freddie Parker – Forward
Cray regard Freddie as one for the future, signed to the club on contract and thought of as a potential future international player such is the progress he is making. With Millwall as a youth team player, the young forward was in great form during 2019 and finished Cray’s joint-top scorer with 13 goals helping them win the Isthmian South-East title. He also won the Cray Wanderers Young Player of the Year.
Joe Taylor – Forward
Experienced centre-forward, Joe joined Cray from Margate in November 2018 and made an immediate impact scoring on his debut. From there he hit the ground running and scored 13 goals in 21 appearances finishing joint top scorer and helped Cray win the Isthmian South-East title. Joe has played for Margate twice and also had two spells at Ramsgate and a couple at Folkestone Invicta where he scored 47 goals in two seasons.
STODGEBUSTERS ON TOUR
We like Brightlingsea. It’s a long way, but even if the football is not great we have Johnny Macs Plaice to look forward to. It serves up undoubtedly the best fish and chips we have ever had on our Rook supporting travels. When the fixtures came out one of the first things we looked for was Brightlingsea Away.
Ten o’clock sharp was the departure time from the Pan for the journey to Essex with Club Sec Barry overseeing everything like a headmaster on a school trip. Three of the regular Stodgebusters were on board and we were joined by part time member Steve. Johnny Macs is such a popular place we thought we had better book a table in advance to avoid disappointment. Gary booked it for 1.45 but it was anybody’s guess what time we would arrive. What with the infamous Dartford tunnel queues to contend with there was always a chance we might not even have time for lunch. That would be a huge let down. Football ground food would be no substitute.
We had players to pick up at Dartford services and the queue for the slip road off of the M25 was huge. We probably spent 30 minutes just queueing to get off. We kept looking glumly at our watches and it was looking doubtful whether we would get there in time. We still had the bleedin’ tunnel to contend with. As it turned out the tunnel queue wasn’t too bad and with huge relief we pulled up outside the ground at about twenty to two which was ideal.
A swift five minute walk and we were in Johnny Macs excited at the thought of the upcoming feast. The manager remembered us from last time, hopefully in a positive way, and four medium cod and chips were ordered up. We certainly weren’t disappointed. The fillets were so large they overhung the plates and covered the chips. It looked like four small sharks rather than cod. It was all absolutely superb, with great service as well. Why can’t we get fish and chips like this in Lewes? After settling the bill and leaving a well deserved healthy tip it was time to get back to the ground or we might miss some of the action. Needless to say the walk back to the ground was a bit slower, where upon arrival we relayed the details of our superb lunch to the regulars. We sounded like fishermen. “It was that big……”
It was time for the main event. The Rooks v The R’s. One has to say that carefully. Anyway, Lewes were on top for the early part but that counted for nothing when a Brightlingsea free kick was swung in and a firm header was planted just inside Nathan’s far post. It looked like a hell of a header from our end but we found out later that it actually came off the side/back of the number 6’s head so it was a bit of a fluke that it ended up where it did.
Worse was to come when a poor clearance from Nathan came straight back and a fierce shot rattled the post. The ball landed back at the feet of a home player who took a couple of touches and rifled the ball into the corner of the net from 20 yards. Two down. We had a good chance to get one back just before the break but the chance was blazed over from eight yards.
Two down at half time and we didn’t really look like turning it around. We wandered dejectedly to the other end and a discarded coffee cup on the ground was the target of our ire.
Out came the lads for the second half. We needed a mighty effort. Pretty soon a nice move found Dayshonne in the box and after a nice first touch he slammed the ball home. We were back in it!
The lads were having a right go, playing some nice stuff and looking far more threatening and, as usual, the home defence were rattled and didn’t like it. Another ball into the box and the number 4 got his arm in the way. A stonewall penalty, easily seen by us as we were barely ten yards away, but did the ref see it? He certainly did, pointed to the spot while taking no notice of the pleas of innocence by the offender. Kayne’s previous penalty had only just crept in but this one gave the keeper no chance. He crashed it in.
We were all over them by this point but another goal wouldn’t come. But then, deep into added time, Jordy latched onto a long pass down the right and sent in the most perfect low cross that evaded the defender and the keeper but didn’t evade the onrushing Ola who slid it into the net for 3-2!
There was pandemonium amongst us behind the goal. What a turnaround. But the boys deserved it as the second half had seen an excellent Lewes performance. There was barely any time for the home team to respond and we rejoiced at the final whistle. It was a nice touch that every player came over and thanked every supporter for coming along. Thanks guys. We appreciated that.
One or two supporters were so impressed with our tales of fish and chips they popped down there themselves while waiting for the coach. What a jolly journey home it was too. It’s always better when you win!
Next up: Carshalton Athletic.
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
Charlie Dobres, Eddie Ramsden, Stuart Fuller, John Peel, Ed Briggs, Jon Ruben, Roger Warner, Galia Orme, Karen Dobres, Steve Keegan
Non-executive directors Michelle Bowie Krige, Claire Rafferty
Club Secretary Barry Collins
Youth Secretary Kevin Brook
Operations Manager Duncan Thompson
Equality FC Campaign Manager Karen Dobres
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