Monday 30th August 2021 3pm KO – The Isthmian Premier League

Welcome to The Dripping Pan for today’s Pitching In Isthmian Premier League game with Horsham. Here is your complimentary e-programme.

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Good afternoon all and welcome to this afternoon’s East versus West Sussex derby as we welcome Horsham to the Pan. I’d like to welcome Dom di Paola and his team, the officials and fans of The Hornets for what promises to be an interesting encounter. Horsham have added to their already strong squad in the summer including paying an undisclosed fee for young midfielder Lucas Rodrigues from Whitehawk.

We finally got our first win at Potters Bar Town on Saturday. The first half was frustrating – we could see patterns of play but that final ball wasn’t there. You have to give the home side some credit – they chased every ball, closed down every challenge, trying to put us off our game and it worked in the first half an hour. But after the break we dominated the game, and somehow it took us until the 72nd minute to finally equalise, with Joe Taylor going on to bag a hat-trick.

Naturally Tony and his team were delighted with the result, especially the second half performance. There’s been a lot of work behind the scenes in the last few weeks to make some tweaks to the squad and formation including a behind close door friendly at Punjab United last week. There may well be some more squad activity in the next few weeks too.

Our Under18s kicked off their league season in what should have been impressive style on Thursday night against Burgess Hill Town but unfortunately the game was abandoned in the 68th minute with the young Rooks winning 6-0 due to a nasty injury to the opposition keeper. Thankfully, he is on the mend and we await a decision as to whether the result will stand. They are in FA Youth Cup action at The Pan on Thursday night so come down and see the latest crop of outstanding players that Dale and his team have put together.

Unfortunately our Women’s first FA Championship game against Charlton Athletic yesterday was cancelled, with a number of Covid-19 cases in their squad so they will have to wait another week before they kick off their season, away at Bristol City next Sunday.

I’d like to address a question that I have been asked about in recent weeks, the idea of the Dripping Pan going cashless. Yes, this is something we are considering. There are a number of reasons for this including a desire to handle less cash before, during and after a match day as well as simplifying our gate reconciliation process. I visit many sporting venues each week and almost all are completely cash free – football, cricket, horse racing and rugby league. From Step 5 Ascot United to Lords – all venues have entry via e-tickets or contactless card. Same at the bar, food hatch, buy a programme or to have a bet.

Last season we hosted four Isthmian Premier League games where entry was by ticket only and card payment was only available when inside the ground, selling out every game. This is the same. Whilst I know that some people see this as a revolutionary move we have to go with the times. Unfortunately, we don’t have the same number of volunteers on a match day anymore and so need to reduce the pressure on those that are giving up their time. So reducing cash payments makes it easier for entry into the ground and reduces the need for someone to miss the second half of a home game by counting cash and ticket stubs.

We are still looking at all options and listening to opinions on the subject. Tickets for every one of our home games can be bought in advance, with a £1 discount whilst season tickets are still available.

I’d like to express my thanks to the team that worked so tirelessly in the last two weeks, including a great fan of the club Kelly Lindsey, in getting safe passage out of Afghanistan for large groups of athletes including the National Women’s team.

We’ve also been incredibly lucky and fortunate that Sue Anstiss MBE has agreed to join our board on a seconded basis. There’s not much Sue doesn’t know about Women’s Football, or most sports to be honest. She has recently published a book, Game On, all about her journey in Women’s Sport and I’m looking forward to her contributing to our growth in the future on and off the pitch.

Finally, I’d like to wish one of our fans home and away Tony Harman well. Tony took a tumble down the Philcox Terrace last week and ended up in hospital with some nasty injuries but he is on the mend and hopefully will be back with us in a week or so.

Let’s get behind the Rooks this afternoon.

Come on you Rooks!


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Good afternoon everyone. Saturday was the perfect example of “a game of two halves”. In the first half, despite going in one goal behind I felt we had some good passages of play and that last 20-25 minutes of the first half set up our performance in the second half. Despite what those who were there may have thought, there was no inspiration half time chat. We didn’t start the game well – we were sloppy and too casual for my liking and it felt a bit deja vu.

But the longer the game went on, we turned the tables. We had the majority of the possession and Potters Bar were reduced to playing on the counter-attack, almost like we were the home side. They are a difficult team to play at home. As a manager I’d only got a point from the two games I had played there previously. The pitch is tight and they smother teams.

We moved the ball well and looked to constantly have their midfield chasing the ball, tiring them out. All my teams I have managed have scored lots of goals late in the half as we wear out the opposition.

For the first time this season I felt that we delivered on the plan that the management team and I wanted to see. We played with confidence towards the end of the game and it was great to see. The majority of the squad are new to me, so whilst the former Cray Wanderers players know how I want to play it does take time for the rest of the squad to understand the patterns of play but I felt towards the end of the game they got it.

I’ve been disappointed with our start to the season before Saturday. There comes a time where we have to step up and that was a conversation we had as a squad on Wednesday night at training and I saw that in the second period on Saturday. Obviously I was delighted to get the first win under our belts but it was the manner of victory in the second half that made me really pleased. The challenge now is to use that last hour of the game as our benchmark to build on that. We can’t give teams a head start and cut that sloppiness out at the start of the games. I also want to give JT a shout out. He is a proven scorer and even if his penalty counts as one of his longer range strikes, they all count.

The way we want to play is different to many sides and that does take a bit of time for all players to get comfortable with. We’ve had to make a few enforced changes due to injuries, illness and on Saturday suspension so it is really important that the squad and not just the starting XI are familiar and comfortable with our style. You can’t coach confidence.

Now we move onto today’s game and the visit of Horsham. They are a good side and had a positive result themselves on Saturday. It should be a good game as both sides appear to have found their form. But if we hit that standard again, we will be hard to beat today.

One thing I am really looking forward to is the the noise and support of the fans. After the game last Saturday our WhatsApp group was a-buzz with the comments about the reaction of you fans to the team during that second half against Cheshunt. The squad can’t wait to be playing here today in front of a big crowd – many of them haven’t been used to that in the past.

I’ve had a lot of good battles with Dom in the past and he’s a good guy although I’m not sure, based on his interview in the local paper this week where all this “big money” has come from for the squad we have. He’s built a good squad, strengthening this summer and it will be a challenge for us to see where we are.

Thanks for all your support and enjoy the game.


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You can get full updates from today’s game, including team line-ups, goals and substitutions, by clicking here. It will automatically update throughout the game. Data supplied by FootballWebPages.

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Lewes were forced to settle for a point in their first home game of the season, despite taking the lead twice in their 2-2 draw with Cheshunt., reports Tom Harper

Tony Russell made a number of changes to the side that lost at Cray on the opening day of the season, with the Rooks looking to get off the mark in front of an impressive crowd at the Pan.

Lewes saw plenty of the ball early on without creating any clear-cut opportunities. If anything, Cheshunt had the better of the chances in the opening stages, with both Joe Re and Taylor McKenzie missing the target when well placed.

The Rooks thought they had taken the lead midway through the half as Razzaq Coleman De-Graft finished well from close range, only for the linesman to flag him offside. Cheshunt nearly made the most of this let-off minutes later, with Lewis Carey making a fine save to deny Ken Charles from the edge of the area after a well-worked move. Charlie Taylor in the visitor’s goal was called into action just before the break, helping a De-Graft effort over the bar at the end of an incisive counter-attack.

Lewes started the second half brightly and took the lead on 52 minutes, as De-Graft cut in from the right and sent a low effort past Taylor and in off the inside of the near post. The Rooks nearly doubled their lead within minutes, with Ayo Olukoga seeing a powerful 25-yard strike beat Taylor but hit the inside of both posts before Taylor put his effort on the rebound over the bar.

Lewes were enjoying their best spell of the game, moving the ball quickly through midfield and stretching the Cheshunt defence.

The visitors came back into the game as the half progressed though, with Carey making a fine save to deny Charles before Taylor Miles hit the side-netting with his strike on the rebound. Cheshunt weren’t to be denied for much longer as they levelled the scores on 77 minutes through Charles, who was on hand to convert a cut-back from the right by substitute Isaac Newton.

Lewes responded positively and went back in front with seven minutes remaining, as Joe Taylor just stayed onside before running through and finishing past Charlie Taylor.

Unfortunately for the majority of the 723-strong crowd, the Rooks were able to hold on to their lead, as a long ball forward was latched onto by Reeces Beckles-Richards, who showed impressive close control in the area before finishing well across Carey and into the bottom corner to level the scores on 88 minutes.

The closing stages were made tougher for Lewes as Tom Carlse was shown a second yellow card, but there wasn’t enough time remaining for Cheshunt to capitalise on this and both sides were left to settle for a point.

Lewes: Carey, Colombie, Carlse, Nelson, Yao, Klass, Tanner (Allen 83), Olukoga, Taylor, Parker (Richards 85), De-Graft.
Unused Subs: Dent, D’Arienzo, Weaire.
Booked: Carlse, Nelson.
Sent off: Carlse.

Cheshunt: Taylor, Williams, McLean, Camara, McKenzie, Gardiner, Richards, Re, Charles, Miles (Nzala 79), Osinfolarin (Newton 56).
Unused Subs: Thomas, Armstrong, Marsh.
Booked: Miles.

Attendance: 723

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Lewes left it late to come from behind to beat Potters Bar Town to give Tony Russell his first competitive win as Lewes manager, reports Stuart Fuller.

The Rooks had to switch their line up around with Tom Carlse serving a one match suspension from his sending off last Saturday against Cheshunt with Matty Weaire returning to the back four and Iffy Allen also coming into the starting XI.

It was a tepid and tetchy start to the game with the referee’s whistle more frequent than attacking play. The home side had the best chance of the game when they hit the frame of the goal from 25 yards after Mitchell Nelson had been cautioned for a late challenge. Five minutes later it was another challenge that saw the first goal of the game when Ayo Olukoga was judged to have pulled back his man and the referee pointed to the spot which Ben Ward Cochrane converted.

The Rooks passing wasn’t as crisp as boss Tony Russell expected – they had the possession but the final pass just never fell to the right man.

The second half saw a different Rooks side come out of the dressing room, playing with an air of confidence from the first minute and looking to move the play from side to side. Full-back Colombie picked up a yellow, having been cynically chopped down minutes earlier, committed a similar foul and was cautioned.

Michael Klass headed against the post from a deep Ollie Tanner corner and then Joe Taylor and Iffy Allen both had golden chances to equalise but both were denied by the keeper, perhaps expecting to do better.

With just under 20 minutes to go it looked like it was going to be one of those games where possession doesn’t translate into goals. Then in the 72 minute, Joe Taylor was pushed in the back as he tried to turn and the referee pointed to the spot. Taylor dusted himself down and slotted it down the middle of the goal to equalise.

Three minutes later and Taylor had his, and Lewes’, second when he finally got a foot on the ball as it pinged around the six yard box.

In the 82nd minute Killian Colombie was judged by the referee as time wasting whilst he tried to retrieve the ball down the touchline and was given a second yellow card in what was a bizarre decision in the context of others during the game.

Instead of looking nervous, the Rooks pressed forward, with Tony Russell making changes, with Kenny Yao replacing Iffy Allen and Nic D’Arienzo replacing Ollie Tanner and dropping into the back four.

With two minutes to go Joe Taylor was once again in the right place at the right time to get on the end of a great run by Razz Coleman De-Graft to complete his hat-trick.

It was certainly an impressive second half from the Rooks and one that could have seen them score more but the important fact is the win and the nature of the confident second half performance to take into the game on Monday.

Potters Bar Town: Al Droubi, Pascal, Cole (Sassi 72 mins), Tajbakhsh, Tingey, Livings (Cole 79 mins), Sharman, Shulton, Ward-Cochrane, Aransibia, Carvalho (Parchment 66 mins)

Subs not used: Young, Cathline

Booked: Cole, Livings, Parchment

Lewes: Carey, Colombie, Coleman De-Graft, Nelson, Weaire, Klass, Tanner (D’Arienzo 84 mins), Olukoga, Taylor, Parker, Allen (Yao 84 mins)

Subs not used: Dent, Santos, Ojo

Booked: Nelson, Taylor, Colombie

Sent off: Colombie

Attendance – 238 (23 Rooks)

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Manager, Dominic Di Paola, joined the Hornets in April 2015 taking over when they were bottom of the Ryman League South. Horsham returned to the Isthmian League Premier Division in 2019 after an absence of seven years, having secured promotion via the play-offs. At the same time they began a new chapter in their history with the opening of their new ground in the Hop Oast district on the southern edge of town.

Founded in 1881, a fourth West Sussex Senior League title in 1926 saw Horsham step up to the County League. They enjoyed a golden age in the 1930s, winning the league six times, the Sussex RUR Cup seven times, and the Sussex Senior Cup twice.

In 1951 Horsham moved up to the Metropolitan League, subsequently playing in the Corinthian and Athenian Leagues before joining an expanded Isthmian League in 1973. Promotions in 1996, 2002 and 2006 took Horsham to the Premier Division for the first time, with a highest ever finish of eighth in 2007. A memorable FA Cup run in 2007-8 saw Horsham reach the First Round for the third time in their history. The 4-1 victory over Conference South Maidenhead United was watched by a home crowd of 3,379. In the Second Round Horsham drew 1-1 at home to Swansea City before going out in the replay.

In 2008 Horsham sold their Queen Street ground. Relegated in 2012 to Division One South, they finished bottom in 2015, suffering relegation to the County League. They returned to the Isthmian League in style, winning the renamed Southern Combination League at the first attempt with 109 points. Having finished 16th in 2017 and 15th in 2018, Horsham claimed the runners-up spot in the re-jigged South East Division in 2019. Play-off victories over Haywards Heath, by 3-0, and Ashford United, by 2-1 after extra time, ensured promotion.

Hopes that the club might start the 2018/19 campaign in the new ground went unfulfilled but the disappointment didn’t seem to affect the players who turned Culver Road into something of a fortress, losing just four matches in all competitions – two of them to higher-league opponents Bath City and Eastbourne Borough. Overdue runs to the latter stages of the qualifying rounds in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy bred confidence that was transferred into their league form and, from early December, the Hornets never dropped below fourth place, finally finishing as runners-up to Cray Wanderers. With automatic promotion the right of only the champions, Horsham faced a play-off semi-final clash with Haywards Heath Town – the only side to have recorded a league double over them during the campaign – and duly won 3-0 to set up a home final with Ashford United. After a tense tie, played in front of over eight hundred spectators, Horsham won through 2-1 after extra-time to return once more to the Premier Division.

Boosted by their fabulous new facilities, named after ground sponsor Camping World in a minimum three-year deal, the club confounded expectations by occupying one of the play-off spots for much of 2019/2020, topping the division on more than one occasion, whilst also reaching the last four of the Isthmian League Cup for the first time, only for the campaign to be declared null and void in March 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Although it ultimately counted for nothing, their standing of 6th place at the premature conclusion to the season represented the highest finish in the club’s history.


Dominic Di Paola–Manager

Dom Di Paola joined the Hornets in April 2015, the former Hastings boss taking over when they were bottom of the Ryman League South. Under his stewardship Horsham moved into The Camping World Community Stadium, and gained promotion to step 3 for the first time since 2012. Since the enforced break Di Paola has once again put together another strong, organised outfit. They lost their two opening games, at home v Hornchurch 0 – 2  on the 14th, and at Haringey 3 – 1 on the 21st. but Hornets found their sting on Saturday in their 3 – 0 home defeat of Merstham. Di Paola faces a selection dilemma as he looks to rotate his squad whilst protecting those who are just returning from injury. Steve Metcalf and Eddie Dsane have yet to kick a ball this summer; Danny Dudley and Alex Malins missed the defeat at Haringey Borough through injury and Covid respectively; Doug Tuck sidelined for the past month played his first game on Saturday past. The Manager says “It’s a difficult one because you’ve got to remember that everyone is coming back from ten months out of the game so aren’t fully up to speed yet”. 

Sam Howes – Goalkeeper

One of the first of a number of summer signings, Sam was juggling studying for his GCSEs and playing for England during the 2014 Euro U17s finals in Malta, alongside the likes of Liverpool’s Joe Gomez. Sam was on the bench when his team-mates produced a penalty shoot-out victory over the Netherlands to be crowned European champions for a second time. That success is among the highlights of an impressive career for the young goalkeeper, who also went on to play for the Three Lions at U19 level while on the books of West Ham United. 

Tom Day – Defender

Former Rook, Tom, was a Crystal Palace and Barnet scholar who joined Horsham from us in 2020. Whilst at Barnet he spent time at Staines Town and Hemel Hempstead before joining Eastbourne Borough on a permanent basis. An initial loan spell at Lewes became permanent in 2018/19, as he went on to became an ever-present in the Rooks’ side. His manager has described him as one of their stand out players: “He came in and did brilliantly wherever we asked him to play”.

Steve Metcalfe – Defender

Another former Rook, Steve has also turned out for Saltdean, Newhaven, Worthing, East Preston amongst others, and is their current continuously longest-serving player, back for a sixth consecutive season with the Hornets.

Ben Dyett – Defender

Ben is a solid defender who has previously played for Chipstead, AFC Hayes,  and Hillingdon Borough.

Harvey Sparks – Defender

Harvey has become one of the Hornets’ most consistent performers since arriving from Bognor Regis Town in September 2018. A member of the successful Worthing side that won promotion to the Isthmian Premier Division in 2016, he is an energetic and pacey player who is more regularly found at left-back, but is equally at home in the midfield where his attacking prowess was instrumental in Horsham’s promotion-winning campaign of 2018/19. He was voted joint Player of the Season by their supporters in 2018/19.

Gary Charman –  Defender

Gary was sent off in the eighth minute of their 3 – 1 defeat at Haringey on 21st and will not feature today. For the record however, it is worth recording he is now in his fourth spell with the club, having re-signed in September 2019. Gary is a homegrown ‘legend’ in every sense. Having come up through the Hornets’ youth ranks, he made his senior debut back in 1998. Gary’s fearless nature has seen him suffer his fair share of injuries, including a fractured cheekbone in 2009 that put him out of the game for 10 months. He spent the 2011/12 season at Eastbourne Borough, returning to Horsham a year later, whereupon he was subsequently appointed as player-manager in November 2013. He left the role in January 2015, and re-joined Eastbourne, either side of two spells at Bognor Regis Town. Gary has also played for Walton & Hersham and Lewes and is the Hornets’ leading FA Cup goalscorer of all-time.

Charlie Hester-Cook – Defender

Charlie came through the Woking FC Academy and signed dual-registration forms with Leatherhead in 2019, making the move permanent in time for the 2019/20 season. Having been an ever-present for the Tanners over the past two seasons, he joined Dorking Wanderers this summer and is currently on loan to the Hornets.

Danny Dudley – Defender

Danny joined Horsham in November 2020. He spent three years at Carshalton Athletic, with whom he won promotion to the Premier Division in 2018, and helped them to a play-off final the following season. Previously at Chipstead and Whyteleafe, he came to prominence while playing for Corinthian-Casuals where he was a losing play-off finalist in 2017.

Alex Malins – Defender/Midfielder

We welcome a former favourite, Alex, back to the Pan today. Alex started his career as a youngster with Crawley Town and got his first taste of life at the Dripping Pan when sent out on work experience in 2013. Alex went on to make well over 100 appearances for us despite sitting out the 2018/19 campaign through injury. He signed for the Hornets this summer.

Doug Tuck – Midfielder

Doug joined Bognor in 2012, following a two-year scholarship at Brighton & Hove Albion, and went on to make more than 300 appearances for The Rocks. He scored the winning goal in the 2019 Sussex Senior Cup Final and was a member of the side that reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy in 2016 and promotion to the National League South in 2017/18. A troublesome groin prevented him turning out until last Saturday.

Lucas Rodrigues – Midfielder

Lucas is a summer signing from Whitehawk. Born in Brasilia, the 23-year-old was the Hawks’ longest-serving player making close to 150 first team appearances, after starting out in their youth set-up. He made his first team debut at 17-years-old, and was named both the Isthmian League Step 4 Player of the Year and Whitehawk’s Player of the Year for the 2019/20 season, when he recorded 13 goals and 14 assists in 33 games.

Tom Kavanagh – Midfielder

Tom started his career as a youngster with Crystal Palace. The experienced midfielder, whose previous clubs include Millwall, Sutton United and Merstham, joined the Hornets this summer from Isthmian Premier Division rivals Kingstonian.

Charlie Harris – Midfielder

Charlie spent three years at Brighton & Hove Albion Youth Academy but failed to break into the first team. An unsuccessful move to Barnsley followed and he returned south, initially joining his hometown club East Grinstead before securing a move to Eastbourne Borough at the start of the2017/18 season. He spent a month on loan with the Hornets that same season before making the move permanent in the summer of 2018. Charlie was sent off in the 60th minute of their game at Haringey  on Saturday the 21st after a first caution three minutes earlier and will not feature today.

Tom Richards – Midfielder

Tom is a pacy winger who joined Horsham this summer from Kingstonian. Tom began his career under a scholarship at Fulham, where he was then offered a two-year professional contract. A left-sided player who can play in multiple wide positions on the left, including full-back, wing-back, or as a left-winger.

Jack Brivio – Midfielder/Captain

Captain Jack Brivio stars in his fourth season with the Hornets following his arrival from Burgess Hill Town. He skippered the side to their play-off final success over Ashford United, leading the club back to the Isthmian League Premier Division for the first time in seven years. A composed and cultured midfielder, Jack came through the Tonbridge Angels academy.

Lee Harding – Midfielder

Lee joined Horsham in 2018, scoring 16 goals in 80 appearances in that time, including most notably in their Isthmian League South East play-off semi-final victory over Haywards Heath Town.

Luke Robinson – Midfielder/Forward

Luke joined the Hornets from Staines Town this summer, at the same time the 22 year old Bermudan earned a dream call-up with his home nation, playing in the Gombey Warriors’ World Cup qualifying ties against Suriname and Cayman Islands. Luke describes himself as a player who “likes to get on the ball, be direct and create chances.”

Alex Laing – Midfielder/Forward

A former Rook who joined Horsham this summer, Alex is a right-footed attack-minded winger who feels most at home on the left, but is able to play in various forward roles. 

Chris Smith – Forward

Chris arrived at Horsham in the summer of 2018 with the reputation of being a 20-plus goal a season man and lived up to his billing by scoring 23 in his first season to help the Hornets to promotion to the Isthmian League Premier Division. ‘Smudge’ made his name at his first club South Park, for whom he scored in excess of 200 goals in over 300 appearances after making his senior debut as a16 year old. Having topped the Surrey club’s goal-scoring charts for five successive seasons, he moved to Burgess Hill Town in 2015, returning to South Park for a spell prior to his move to Horsham where he linked up once more with former South Park strike partner Kieran Lavery.

Rob O’Toole – Forward

Rob has County League winners medals from his time at Peacehaven & Telscombe, East Preston, Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath. He began the 2017/18 campaign at Horsham before making the switch to Saltdean, only to return to the Hornets at the start of the following season where he scored 18 goals in 49 appearances to earn the sixth promotion of his career.

Shamir Fenelon – Forward

Shamir joined Horsham this summer from National League South, Billericay Town. Describing himself as determined and hungry for goals the 26-year-old, who has also appeared three times for Ireland U21s, revealed his thoughts ahead of the upcoming season. He said: “I want to win games, enjoy myself, and just be in an environment where I’m happy and scoring goals. He brings a wealth of Football League and National League experience having begun his career in the Brighton and Hove Albion academy.

Eddie Dsane – Forward

Still only 23 years of age, Eddie has a wealth of footballing experience, having been on the books of Crystal Palace, Preston North End and Fleetwood Town as a youngster. With first team opportunities limited, he spent time in the League of Ireland with Longford Town and Finn Harps before returning to the UK and joining Whyteleafe prior to a spell at Maldon & Tiptree. He started last season at Leatherhead but finished it at Kingstonian and looked set to appear for Hampton & Richmond this campaign, only to join Horsham in September.


Sat 14th August – Hornchurch (H) – 0-2
Sat 21st August – Haringey Borough (A) – 1-3 (Kavanagh)
Sat 28th August – Mertsham (H) – 3-0 (Kavangagh, Brivo, Fenelon)

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Lewis Carey
Carey will be a familiar face to Rooks fans having previously played for us in the 2018/19 season and winning Supporters Player of the Season. Lewis came through the youth ranks at Bristol City, and is an experienced non-league keeper having appeared for Bromley, Tonbridge Angels, Eastbourne Borough and Cray Wanderers.

Tom Carlse
An energetic full-back, Tom has previously played for Sittingbourne, Greenwich Borough, Ashford United and was part of the Cray Wanderers side that were promoted from the Isthmian South in 2018/19.

Killian Colombie
Able to play in defence or midfield, Killian has spent most of his career so far playing in the US for Iona Gaels, AHFC Royal, Brazos Valley Cavalry and Sporting Kansas City II. Killian joined Aldershot Town in November 2020 and making 12 appearances before switching to the Rooks ahead of the 2021/22 season.

Kenny Yao
The former Charlton Athletic youngster is a versatile player who is comfortable at full-back, in the centre of defence or as a holding midfielder. Was at Dartford on loan during the 2019-20 season.

Nic D’Arienzo
Nic made his first team debut for the Rooks in the League Cup in 2019/20 against Three Bridges, graduating from the Under 18s and went on to make four first team appearances that season and another seven in the curtailed 2020/21 season. An accomplished left-back who is also comfortable in the centre of defence.

Ben Mundele
An England C international, Ben is a full back by trade but can also play at centre back and in midfield. Ben was named in the Isthmian Team of the Season in 2017/18 and 2018/19 and joined the club from Cray Wanderers ahead of the 2021/22 season.

Mitchell Nelson
An experienced centre back, Mitchell started his career at Bournemouth and subsequently played for Eastleigh, Sutton United, Margate, Dulwich Hamlet, Welling United, Tonbridge Angels and Cray Wanderers. Mitchell has previously played for the club joining on loan from Bournemouth in the 2010/11 season.

Matt Weaire
A young but composed centre back, Matt has represented Denmark Under 19’s. Starting his career at Brighton & Hove Albion, Matt joins the club from Colchester United.

Karl Dent
A highly technical midfielder, Dent was with Arsenal in his youth, going on to join Dartford before joining up with Tony Russell at VCD Athletic and Cray Wanderers.

Michael Klass
With Fulham and Queens Park Rangers as a youth player, Michael went on to join Southend United making 12 appearances for the first team. Had an impressive spell on loan with Bromley in the 2019/20 season before returning to Southend and joining the Rooks in 2021/22. A player with exciting potential and one to watch this season.

Ayo Olukoga
Previously played for Romford, Cheshunt and East Thurrock, some impressive performances in pre-season saw the industrious centre midfielder snapped up by the management team for 2021/22.

Freddie Parker
Still only 21, Parker is a strong and technically gifted midfielder and has scored 30 goals in just over 75 games in the Isthmian League. Started his career with Millwall and had a spell at Crystal Palace before joining Cray Wanderers.

Bradley Pritchard
Pritchard joined us from Cray Wanderers to link up once again with Tony Russell and Joe Vines, although he is probably better known for his performances in the English Football League for Charlton Athletic and Leyton Orient. Rooks fans may also remember him from our encounters against Greenwich Borough. He made 67 appearances for Cray Wanderers between 2018 and the end of last season, scoring nine goals.

Kyron Richards
A promising and versatile midfielder, Kyron has previously played for Atlantis FC in Finland and FC Barkingside before joining Tony Russell at Cray Wanderers in 2020.

Iffy Allen
A very skilful wide player who can also play as a Number 10, Allen joined the club from Ebbsfleet United in the summer of 2021. A youth player with Fulham, Allen went on to play for Barnet, Yeovil Town, Torquay United, Aldershot Town, Wrexham, Dulwich Hamlet, Braintree Town and Maidstone United.

Razzaq Coleman De-Graft
A technical and powerful player, Razzaq can play in a front three and as left back, the former Hampton & Richmond Borough player joined the Rooks following a series of impressive performances in pre-season including a goal against Dartford FC.

Brad Santos
Made is first team debut at Margate in August 2019, Brad had several successful season with the Under 18’s as well as appearances for Sussex and England Under 18s. Known for his close ball control and speed, Brad has joined the first team squad in 2020/21 going on to make 11 appearances before the season was curtailed.

Ollie Tanner
A highly promising and exciting winger, Ollie was a Charlton and Arsenal youth player before joining Bromley’s academy and was promoted to their first team squad in 2019/20, making his debut at 17. Joined the Rooks in the summer of 2021.

Joe Taylor
A prolific goal scorer, Taylor counts Ramsgate, Folkestone, Margate and Cray Wanderers amongst his former clubs. Scored 32 goals in 38 appearances for the Wands in the null and voided 2019/20 and 13 goals in 14 games in the curtailed 2020/21 season. Taylor was Tony Russell’s first signing as Lewes manager.

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After today’s match midfielder Bradley Pritchard will be making a special ‘pilgrimage’ round the Pan.

Yep, you heard right. Shortly after the final whistle this Bank Holiday Monday midfielder Bradley will be walking a lap of the Dripping Pan wearing a piece of ‘performance craft’ called the ‘Coat of Hopes’ – a community-patched garment which leaves Newhaven on the morning of Lewes v Horsham to start a 500 mile ‘pilgrimage’ north to Cop 26 in Glasgow. 

The coat is the brainchild of local artist Barbara Keale (pictured below with Bradley), and will eventually be made up of patches embroidered by diverse members of the communities it passes along the way, with each embroidered patch expressing something of each person’s connection to their landscape, their feelings about it, and their hopes for the future.

When the coat reaches Glasgow, and the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, world leaders will be invited to try it on and feel the weight of peoples’ hopes upon their shoulders as they make crucial decisions about our collective future. Rooks fans will know that the Coat of Hopes has trodden our beloved, historic ground and – we sincerely hope – absorbed some of our own hopes and passions as it begins its long walk.

We thank Barbara for taking the mic to introduce the Coat of Hopes as Bradley does his lap.

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This week the U18’s kicked off their 2021/22 league campaign vs Burgess Hill Town at The Oaks home of AFC Uckfield Town.

The fixture ended prematurely around the 70th minute mark.

The first 30 minutes were evenly contested as both teams teased their way into the game. The deadlock broken by Ezra Roeg, a misjudged through ball bounced over the Hillian’s keeper’s head and Roeg was there to tap home into an empty net.

Before the break Lewes went 2-0 up, an Ezra Roeg free kick was met by Gabe Brennan and the centre half nodded home.

The second half started with a period of Rooks possession, not really penetrating but in control of the game. Then in the 55th minute the game erupted into life with 4 rooks goals in 15 minutes. The first coming from Ex Brighton academy player Charlie Gibson, who slotted home past the out rushing keeper. Straight from kickoff Burgess Hill played backwards and lost possession and Harry Margeson was there to pounce on the loose ball 4-0. The introduction of Destiny Ojo just before the 60th minute saw the winger net twice, the first from a looping cross by full back, Rohilla, which from an almost impossible angle Ojo volleyed past the keeper at his near post.

A link to the goal is here:

The 6th goal of the game followed soon after, possession again won high by the Rooks, the goalkeeper spilled a shot from striker Harry Margeson and Destiny rocketed the rebound into the top corner. The game didn’t kick off again as the Goalkeeper received treatment and the score line at 6-0.

We have had good news from Burgess Hill that goalkeeper is well and we wish him a swift recovery.

An upcoming decision by the Isthmian league board determines whether the result stands.

This Thursday the u18’s are at The Dripping Pan in FA Youth Cup, 7:45pm kick off vs Worthing United, all your support is welcome.

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Ian is undoubtedly one of the best football bloggers of the 21st century and a regular visitor here at the Pan. Every progcast we will feature one of his articles but please drop by his website and read some of the excellent, topical posts he produces on an almost-daily basis. Today he looks at the going on’s at Rochdale FC.

To support Rochdale has traditionally been to accept a degree of modesty in your life. Rochdale AFC didn’t win a single FA Cup match between 1928 and 1946 (eleven straight years, even if we disregard the war years). More recently, they went 22 years between 1970 and 1992 without finishing above halfway in whichever division they happened to be in. In terms of the broad history of the club, recent successes – the club reached 8th place in League One, in 2015 – have, if anything, been the anomaly. That 8th place finish in 2015 came immediately after a promotion which ended a period of 36 consecutive years in the basement division of the Football League.

But this club matters. If you start typing in “Rochdale” into Google, “Rochdale AFC” is the first thing to appear, and “Spotland Stadium” also shows its face. If you finish typing it in and hit ‘send’, the first search return is for the club’s website. Rochdale is a town of more than 100,000 people, but Football League status can confer a degree of legitimacy upon an entire town that nothing else can match.

Rochdale’s other significant claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of the Co-Operative movement, and this is reflected in the ownership structure of the football club. There are more than 300 shareholders in Rochdale, and this labyrinthine arrangement has served the club well in the past. From the end of last season until this week, though, the club was at war as the result of an attempted hostile takeover of the club by two businessmen from the other end of the country with no apparent previous allegiance to or interest in Rochdale AFC.

Andy Curran and Darrell Rose were from Essex and Worksop, respectively. Curran was somewhat mysterious, but is said to have made his fortune in construction and property. He was previously involved with Lee Power at Swindon Town, which can hardly be considered a ringing endorsement. Curran’s son Taylor played for Swindon last season, but transferred to Maidstone United during the summer. Rose owns a luxury car dealership. But the question of why these two men from Essex and Nottinghamshire respectively were so interested in Rochdale AFC isn’t easy to answer. It was rumoured that they’d been offering multiple times the value of shares to shareholders in a bid to gain control of the club, but why? In the absence of anything obvious, fans soon started to form their own opinions.

The vehicle that they used to try and push this through was a company called Morton House MGT and First Form Construction, but only Rose was either a director or significant shareholder, and he was only appointed at the start of May. Curran recently told the Athletic that he was only there as an advisor. The company’s accounts for the year to July 2020 didn’t give much impression that they have the financial wherewithal to fund a League Two club (pdf), but they have claimed that the accounts for the last business year to July 2021 will confirm their ability to financially support the club. They weren’t the only people involved, either. Another adviser to Curran & Rose was one Alexander Jarvis, whose own LinkedIn page states that:

Alexander was the first British financier to set up a football focused investment company to assist Chinese investors in acquiring European Football Clubs. Alexander has sold several football clubs to investors from the United States, India, China, Canada and the United Kingdom. Alexander has advised investors on over 30 football club investments across England and Europe.

The involvement of Jarvis was a particular curiosity because there had been no talk whatsoever from Curran & Rose of any foreign investment involved in this attempted takeover, and this seemed to be his specialist area. When we consider the recent Al Jazeera investigation into ‘facilitators’ who hide the identity of the true buyers of football clubs for reasons alleged to stretch as far as money laundering, it is hardly surprising that this group, with no previous connection to the club or the area, should have been viewed with suspicion by supporters.

There is little doubt that the last couple of years have been an extremely testing time for Rochdale. The pandemic has had an effect on the finances of all football clubs, and this as been all the more severe at those further down the food chain, where match day revenues form a greater part of a club’s financial income in comparison with television money. The club’s accounts to July 2020 (which are exhaustively detailed, at 36 pages) showed a club that was hardly in a disastrous position (PDF), but they did that note that, “The principal risk for the club at present surrounds maintaining English Football League (‘EFL’) One status”, and this status was, of course, lost at the end of last season.

The summer saw the loss of some of the personnel infrastructure which got Rochdale to their gravity-defying position in the first place. Chief executive David Bottomley and director Graham Rawlinson were voted out of their positions at the club’s EGM, while the club took on a new chairman in the form of season ticket holder Simon Gauge. A few weeks later, the sense of upheaval within the club became more evident to the public when popular manager Brian Barry-Murphy left for the Manchester City’s under-23s.

Tensions increased a further notch last week, though, when it was confirmed that Gauge had made a complaint to the FA over homophobic and insulting comments made by Curran during a Zoom meeting between Curran & Jarvis, the current coard of the club, and the EFL. It was alleged that Curran called the people of the town – presumably those who didn’t want to sell their shareholding to out of town speculators – ‘small minded’ and the club’s current board as ‘nancy boys’, and suggested that any future disputes could be settled in ‘a fight in a boxing ring’. Jarvis’s response – “There was a lot said at the meeting. If they were said I’m sure they weren’t meant in the way that they’ve been interpreted” – was, frankly, pathetic.

If this didn’t paint Curran in a very positive light, there was more to follow last week when the town’s veteran Labour MP wrote to the EFL expressing his concerns about everything that has been going on at the club over the summer:

The Football League system has seen numerous owners whose competence to run a football club was simply not there, many simply using the club as a cash cow for their own benefit.

They have frequently left clubs weakened, or in the case of Bury FC, no longer in operation.

The EFL, in principle, has duties with regard to the ‘Fit and Proper Person Test’, and the need for owners to have a financial model that does not put the club in jeopardy.

If trustworthiness does count for anything in the buying and selling of football clubs, Curran & Rose seemed to be falling short in just about every respect. For example, Curran met with a small number of fans at a Rochdale hotel at the start of July, but the club’s supporters trust, The Dale Trust, subsequently released a statement to say that they had met with an investor who had told them that they had already purchased 42% of shares in the club and that had provided proof of funds to the governing bodies. The EFL, via the club, contacted the Trust days later to outline neither statement was correct. “The EFL is still to receive any evidence of the source and sufficiency of funding on behalf of any potential purchaser.” The Trust, in turn, had to issue their own clarification.

Al Jazeera reported yesterday that the EFL ‘admitted that football was vulnerable to “unscrupulous individuals” and that “people will try to gain access into our clubs”’, and that, ‘the Owners’ and Directors’ Test would be reviewed “in light of the observations made in the programme”.’ And this morning, came news that few had been expecting but were nevertheless very welcome, with an EFL statement which confirmed the end of the matter:

On 16 August 2021, in accordance with its Regulations, the EFL issued notice to multiple individuals of the commencement of disciplinary investigations in respect to the acquisition of shares in Rochdale Association Football Club.

It is alleged that Morton House MGT acquired Control of the Club, and a number of individuals became Relevant Persons without the prior consent of the EFL in accordance with the Owners’ and Directors’ Test (OADT).

The EFL’s objective was to gather additional evidence as it continued to investigate whether the Club, any Official, any Relevant Person(s) and/or any Persons wishing to acquire Control of the Club complied with the requirements of the OADT and whether any Relevant Person(s) are subject to a Disqualifying Condition.

Having considered the request for information made of them, Morton House MGT, on behalf of its directors, and representatives, has now informed the League that it is formally withdrawing from the approval process and plans to divest the shares acquired in the Club at the earliest opportunity.

Furthermore, Morton House MGT, its directors, and representatives, have confirmed to the League they are refusing to co-operate with the League’s ongoing investigations. Despite these developments, the EFL will be continuing with its disciplinary investigations into this matter and will take the most appropriate action available to it under its Regulations.

More importantly, the EFL will continue to work with Rochdale AFC as we collectively seek to ensure a successful and sustainable long-term future for the Club and all those associated with it, particularly its players, staff, and supporters.

There didn’t seem to be anybody who wanted these two (or however many of them there actually were) involved at Rochdale, and they didn’t seem to like or respect the town (or at least the townspeople) or the supporters (if we consider their flagrant lying to them) very much, either. Perhaps we’ll never get answers to these questions. The fact that they’d been hoovering up shares without the consent of the EFL and their refusal to co-operate with the League over their investigations alone hardly reflects positively upon them.

But it is worth concluding by reflecting upon the huge amount of effort put into fighting for the club by its supporters. The Dale Trust and the supporters in a broader sense have done an incredible job over the course of this summer, digging up every piece of information that they could find about these speculators (consider, for example, this exhaustive forum post, which is a remarkable body of work in itself), treating them fairly and allowing them to make their case, but never unquestioningly accepting their actions or behaviour. The fans carried out all of this work because Rochdale AFC matters, and it matters in a way that it never could to the vultures who seem to be perpetually circling our football clubs.

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Enfield Town, top of the pile on alphabetical order, travelled to Folkestone Invicta – with both aware that at least one one hundred percent record was about to vanish. As it turned out, both of them did, as the sides couldn’t manage a goal between them.

That result allowed Kingstonian, who started the day with the same record as Enfield, the chance to go top- and it was a chance they duly took as they welcomed Hornchurch to Tolworth. They got the perfect start, Rhys Murrell-Williamson breaking the deadlock after only eight minutes, made it two six minutes before the break through Fabio Saraiva, and held on to that margin to ease to victory.

Cray Wanderers fans might have expected it to take time before their new side gelled under new boss Danny Kedwell, but the Wands welcomed Worthing after confident victories over Lewes and Hornchurch. The Hayes Lane side were one of Worthing’s bogey sides during 2019-20, beating them at Woodside Road and drawing with them at Hayes Lane, but it was the Mackerel Men who went ahead in this one, Thomas Chalaye scoring for the second weekend in a row. They weren’t ahead for long, Ejoro Okosieme drawing the hosts level ten minutes before the break, but Dayshonne Golding restored the visitors advantage with seventeen minutes left and the Mackerel Men climbed to fourth, level with Wands on points but ahead on goals scored.

Cheshunt, who started the day in fifth, hosted Margate who hadn’t conceded a goal before today. Was this going to be a battle of attack versus defence? Well it was the Blues attack that broke the deadlock, Vance Bola with the opener on nineteen minutes, but the Ambers were level just after the half hour through Reece Beckles-Richards, who was scoring in his third consecutive match. That was that, and they had to settle for a point apiece.

Bognor Regis Town, unbeaten after two draws, would have been looking for three points as they hosted Haringey Borough, but that quest didn’t start well as Christos Djamas opened the scoring after ten minutes. It got worse ten minutes later, full back David Olufemi making it two to the dismay of most of the six hundred and thirty eight present, and although Nathan Odokonyero got one back for the hosts with three minutes remaining there was no heroic comeback and Borough climbed to sixth.

Leatherhead made the long trip to Brightlingsea Regent as twelfth hosted eleventh. The last six meetings between the sides had seen three wins each, so perhaps we were due a draw- but we didn’t get one! Regent went ahead after twenty five minutes, Lewis Byrne-Hewitt with the opener, and that turned out to be the only goal of the game as Regent ended the day in seventh place.

Wingate and Finchley had a morale-boosting win at Leatherhead last time out, but fell behind to Corinthian-Casuals, Warren Mfula scoring his first of the campaign after fourteen minutes. The same player had his second fourteen minutes later, but after the break the Blues made things interesting as Bilal Sayoud scored for the second Saturday in a row. Just how interesting was shown six minutes from time, when Darnell Goather-Braithwaite made it two-two and ensured that the spoils were shared.

Merstham travelled to face a Horsham side still without a point. The Hornets started the day holding up the rest, but looked to put an end to that when Tom Kavanagh opened the scoring four minutes before the break. Three points looked certain when Jack Brivio made it two with twenty minutes remaining, delighting the majority of the five hundred and ninety nine present, and they were certain when Shamir Fenelon made it three right at the end. Horsham are fourteenth, Merstham eighteenth.

Carshalton Athletic hosted Bishop’s Stortford with both looking for a first win and three hundred and seventy three in attendance. The Robins saw Danny Bassett put them ahead after ten minutes, and doubled their advantage through Jalen Jones on sixty six minutes, holding on to climb to eleventh.

Finally, Bowers and Pitsea welcomed East Thurrock United to the Len Salmon. It took sixty three minutes before a goal came- remarkably that was the first goal of the second half across the Premier Division- and it came to the hosts, Quentin Monville rocking the Rocks. The visitors struck back twelve minutes from time, Alex Hernandez with an equaliser, and right at the end Paulius Ditkevicius nicked it for the visitors, who picked up their first win of the campaign. Bowers sink to the bottom following this result, United are thirteenth.

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It was Sevenoaks next.  Another drive for PJ through the Sussex lanes, with Gary the Badge riding shotgun. We arrived just in time to claim one of the last spots in the car park. This was a new ground to tick off the list for us. It’s one of those formulaic new grounds where everything is nice and new, has a 3G pitch and goals on wheels. We call them Lego stadia. Thirty minutes until kick off so it’s time for sustenance. Er….what? No hot food? Nothing at all?  For some reason Sevenoaks had decided not to employ their kitchen appliances for the evening, and we doubt it was because they didn’t have a shilling for the meter. We hadn’t experienced this lack of food at a game since the infamous Six Cheese Rolls Incident at Corinthian Casuals many years ago. Disappointedly we walked away with merely a can of Coke each and a zero on the Stodge-o-Meter for Sevenoaks catering. One of the home team’s subs then showed he was a sub for a reason. One of his practice shots was miles wide and it hit PJ’s can of Coke he was holding, crushed it against the barrier and Gary the Badge got an unwanted Coke shower. We didn’t laugh too much. The lad was very apologetic as one of the club officials generously replaced it and we moved to relative safety by the corner flag . 

The first 30 minutes it looked like a stroll as Lewes went 2 up with simple headers from corners, one of which was from Joe Taylor. Sevenoaks pulled one back very quickly thanks to a poor back pass. Lewes lost their dominance after that and for much of the second half Sevenoaks looked the more likely to score. And they did to level it up. This seemed to wake up Lewes who scored twice towards the end with lovely finishes to 2 nice moves. 4-2 to Lewes and a pleasant evening despite the empty stomach. It would have to be Ritz crackers and Boursin at home before bed.

The next stop on our list of friendlies was a return to our old adversaries Eastbourne Borough at Priory Lane. It seems a long time ago since we last played them and even longer since we actually beat them. 

With PJ unavailable for this one due to having to attend a wedding (her indoors has a very effective armlock) it was left to Gary and Roly to fly the flag. With Gary catching the train to Roly’s abode in Polegate it was a 10 minute drive to a ground none of us like visiting much. With the terraces virtually level with the pitch it’s not the best venue to watch a game. Turnstile Alan turned up as well and it’s always good to hear his views about the lack of ability of the home defenders and goalkeeper. 

As we pulled into the car park it was good to see Golden Goal Ethel had made the trip. Thankfully she had Treacle and Jamie to keep an eye on her in case she got a little boisterous as is sometimes the case.

When we approached the turnstiles we wondered how much it would be to get in for a couple of old codgers. We were amazed when the cheerful lady on duty said  ‘£2 please’. We fully expected to pay at least £5 or even more.

We decided not to sample the food although a portion of chips smothered in curry sauce looked very tempting. 2 coffees would suffice. 

When the game got under way in front of a disappointing crowd of 305 the home team looked good and were pinning us back in our own half. They took the lead with a great strike and things looked ominous. As the half went on the Rooks started to play some lovely football and equalised with a free kick which went in off the post and nestled in the opposite corner. We were playing really well now and took the lead when a short corner eventually found it’s way to the far post where a Lewes toe touched it over the line.

The second half had chances being missed at both ends before Borough equalised with a strike that looked like it hit both posts before going in. Chances were still being missed before a home defender sold his keeper short with a woeful back pass that was finished with aplomb. 3-2 to the Rooks and that’s how it finished. A very enjoyable afternoon although Borough boss Danny Bloor wasn’t very happy in his post match comments. Nobody at Lewes is bothered about what he thinks anyway. Lewes deserved the victory and any win against Borough should be celebrated!

A short drive back to Polegate Station and Gary the Badge was back in Lewes before 5-30pm. A very enjoyable afternoon was had with the usual gaggle of Rooks regulars.

Finally, it was a trip to Aveley. PJ always intended going to this one to see their shiny new ground but he couldn’t talk any of the others out of their armchairs. Indeed, it was a very scant turnout of Rooks fans.

It was a pleasant hour and a half drive through the country lanes to the Dartford Tunnel, and even the tunnel itself was a doddle. The comparison between Aveley’s new ground and their old one is stark. The old ground was very shabby and obviously suffered from some serious under-investment. But that is now a housing estate. The new ground is very smart with a huge bar area, although it’s a bit generic and doesn’t have the terracing or feel of the old ground. PJ couldn’t see a food outlet or any signs for one. Not another hungry evening? He then spotted in the distance a ketchup bottle on a table tucked away around the back of the main building. Aha. A decent tray of chips and a Coke later and he was happy.

Aveley are a decent side and made, but missed, lots of chances. They forced Carey into making three great first half saves. Lewes were guilty of losing possession too easily but took their chances and were two up at half time. That would be three up early in the second half. Aveley scored two very quick goals thanks to Lewes giving the ball away. However, some disastrous defending allowed Lewes to score a fourth and it ended four-two.

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Basingstoke Town FC (Isthmian League South Central)
Winklebury Football Campus, Basingstoke, Hampshire
Basingstoke Town have moved across from the Southern League in the summer. Fans will remember our games against the Dragons from our time together in the National League South. The club have suffered on and off the field, having been forced to relocate to Winchester City FC in 2019 before they were able to return to Hampshire, sharing the Winklebury ground with the Hampshire Football Association.

Binfield FC (Isthmian League South Central)
Hill Farm Lane, Binfield, Berkshire
Last season’s losing FA Vase finalists, Binfield were promoted for the first time in their history to the Isthmian League in the summer as part of the FA restructure. Binfield is located just outside Bracknell, with Hill Farm Lane being the club’s home since 1980.

Gay Dawn Farm, Corinthian Football Club

Corinthian FC (Isthmian League South East)
Gay Dawn Farm, Fawkham, Kent
The club were established in 1972 – not to be confused in any way with Corinthian-Casuals. They played in the Southern League for five years before dropping into the then Kent League. The Rooks played then in a Pre-Season Friendly in 2020, losing 2-0.

Hashtag United FC (Isthmian League North)
The Len Salmon Stadium, Pitsea, Essex (ground share with Bowers & Pitsea)
Founded in 2016 by YouTuber Spencer Owen, the club originally played exhibition matches against former pros, using social media as a tool to increase interest and revenue generation. They won the Eastern Counties Division One in their first season, and 96 points from 38 games at Step 5 over the two aborted seasons which won them promotion to Step 4 after the FA reorganisation. They will ground share with Bowers & Pitsea for at least two more seasons.

Culver Road, Lancing

Lancing FC (Isthmian League South East)
Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex
A familiar name and ground to Rooks fans as it is the home of the Sussex FA. Lancing squeaked into the Isthmian League in the summer due to the restructure of Step 4 and 5, pipping Newhaven by less than a tenth of a point. A number of former Rooks have turned out for Lancing last season and this so far.

Stowmarket Town FC (Isthmian League North)
Greens Meadow, Stowmarket, Suffolk
Having gone 28 games unbeaten in the 2019-20 season and topping the Eastern Counties League, they were denied promotion due to Covid-19. However, they were promoted after the FA restructure in 2021 based on their two season points per game ratio. Their Greens Meadow ground is located next to the A14 on the way from Ipswich to Bury St Edmunds.

Gander Green Lane, Sutton

Sutton Common Rovers FC (Isthmian League South Central)
Gander Green Lane, Sutton
The 2020-21 Combined Counties champions based on points per game, Sutton Common Rovers will share Sutton United’s ground for this season before moving to a facility close by next year. The club were only founded in 1978 and they will be playing in the Isthmian League for the first time in their history this season. In their short history they have been called SCR Litten Tree and SCR Kingfisher due to commercial deals.

Thatcham Town FC (Isthmian League South Central)
Waterside Park, Thatcham, Berkshire
Another club that has moved across from the Southern League. Thatcham won the FA Vase in 2018 and was the club that gave West Brom’s Charlie Austin his first break in football. The most western club in the Isthmian League.

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Our next game here at The Pan is the Emirates FC Cup First Qualifying Round tie against Southern League Premier South side Metropolitan Police.

Every year we hope this will be the one for a cup run. Our record in the last decade doesn’t make happy reading and includes defeats against Step 5 sides such as Chertsey Town, Phoenix Sports and Sevenoaks Town, whilst last season we lost at Step 4 Bedfont Sports.

In fact, and please look away now Rooks fans, it has been 15 years since we last beat a team from a higher division – step forward Crawley Town in the 4th Qualifying Round in 2006/07 season.

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About Moatside
Moatside is a fairly basic ground which has been developed as the club has risen through the leagues. The main building in the corner that spectators enter houses the changing rooms and admin offices, whilst further along the touchline is a decent sized stand, set slightly back from the pitch, which means spectators do wander in front of this and obscure the views of those in the first couple of rows. Behind this stand is the refreshment block which used to serve tea/coffee in proper mugs, on the promise that you brought them back on your way out.

There’s a small seated stand at one end, in place to tick the ground-grading box whilst at the other end is a narrow-roofed terrace. The main clubhouse is located outside the turnstiles.

How to get to Moatside
Despite sitting almost in the shadow of the M25 and M23, Moatside is quite difficult to get to by road, unless you are coming south down the A23 from Central London/Croydon, which few of us will be! So, from Lewes head up the A23/M23 and carry on over the M25 junction. After a mile you will see a Starbucks on the right-hand side. Turn into there, turn around and then head back south on the A23 towards the M23. Stay in right hand land where the road splits and follow the A23 under the M25 and enter Merstham. Follow road around the bend where the Feathers pub is and then take the second left and bear immediately right into School Hill.

Head down hill, under the railway bridge and then you want to take the fourth right into Weldon Way, where the ground is 200 yards on your right. There’s plenty of on-road, free parking around the entrance to the ground. It is a 43-mile trip each way and you should allow yourself an hour to get here due to the long-term roadworks on the M23.

The station is a 10-minute walk away from the ground. Take a left out of the station then a left at the end into School Hill. Walk down the hill, under the bridge and then take second right into Albany Walk. Follow this for 200-yards and then take the alleyway on your left which brings you out at the turnstiles. It will involve a single change normally at Gatwick with a total journey time of around 75 minutes from Lewes.

Admission at Moatside
Admission this season will be £10 for adults, £6 for concessions (senior citizens, Under18s, students) and accompanied under 16s are £3.

Fancy a beer?
There’s really only one option in Merstham and that is The Feathers in the High Street which has a decent selection of ales, some on a rotation basis as well as some good value food options. There is also a decent club house at the ground located outside the turnstiles.

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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.

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If you thought we were stretched last Saturday in terms of staff, then here’s the week from hell that Barnet FC had in the run up to their first National League game of the season in the words of their Chairman, Tony Kleanthous.

“Dear Supporters,

The Club experienced a number of challenges in the run up to Saturday’s game and we are aware that service fell well short of expectations, both on and off the field.

We have had some complaints and it’s right that you should pick us up on any failings, for which we can only apologise. To add perspective, I have produced a timeline of last week’s countdown to the match so supporters are aware of the issues we were having behind the scenes.

Monday – After weeks of chasing, our new team kit finally arrived, only for us to discover that the manufacturer had not put the Club badges on the garments and the sponsor logo on the front of the shirt was too small. This was particularly disappointing because we wanted supporters to be able to purchase the new strip, ahead of our opening match of the season. The immediate priority though was to get the playing kit ready and appease our sponsors.

Tuesday – At our usual Tuesday pre-match briefing, it was apparent that our biggest challenge was going to be staffing levels and a particular concern was the stewarding numbers for the game.

The problems with staff shortages have been well reported and this is particularly acute in London and in the hospitality trade. Matchdays rely on casual labour and many staff, who had only just returned from furlough, have taken lengthy holidays which they accumulated during their time off work, so preparation during July and August has been patchy, at best. Problems were also reported with staffing the Bars, Hospitality and Ticketing meaning we were going to be stretched in all areas. The issue of the kit was also raised as we did not have the staff available to badge all the replica shirts before Saturday.

Wednesday – Efforts to get staff to badge the shirts proved fruitless so we took the decision to shut the Club Shop but still go ahead with the kit launch. We are still trying to resolve the kit problem but hope to have the shop open again from Monday.

Given the impacts on footfall due to Covid restrictions for most of the past year, our caterers were unfortunately unable to continue but we did manage to find a new company to run the Tea Huts, although this was their first matchday experience and it will be a learning curve for them. After weeks of searching, we had finally found a new chef for The Hive Bar and for hospitality, so we were hoping, at least, that this area had now been resolved.

Our media team now consisted of only one new staff member who was also helping with ticketing, so despite efforts, we were unable to arrange any commentary for the match and decided to cancel this. We also announced a ‘free drink promotion’ as a goodwill gesture to season ticket holders.

Thursday – Our usual beer delivery didn’t arrive and then the bombshell dropped, Heineken are on strike! Our supporters can forgive most things, but NO beer is a big, big problem. I spoke with their legal department who said they would allow us to purchase products elsewhere, but it would have to be a Heineken Brand so we rang around trying to get some beer, but most pubs were not selling stock as they were in a similar position to us.

In the meantime, I was personally in discussions with the National League as we had still not received any match balls, bench kit or shirt numbers from New Balance, who themselves had all sorts of supply issues. We started to badge and number the team kit with what we had available and dispatched someone to Hemel Hempstead FC to get some extra transfers they had in stock. We would like to thank them for their support.

Friday – We finally got the team kit badged and ready to go. We also dusted off last season’s bench wear as it was clear New Balance were not going to send the allocation in time. We also managed to locate 2,000 cans of Fosters, so immediately dispatched someone to load these into a van and get them back and into a cold store overnight, for use in Legends and the Away Bars.

Unfortunately, the new chef was not up to standard, so we decided to close The Hive Bar and notify Notts County that we were unable to provide our usual hospitality. They were very understanding and interestingly told us they had similar problems, with 85% of their staff having not returned to work for this season. Closing the Hive Bar meant we could focus our bar staff on Legends and also reduce any risk of home fans and away fans mingling in this area.

The biggest concern at this point was stewarding, so we arranged as many staff as we could from two different sources to ensure our Safety Officer was comfortable. Preparing for the worst, I called the Chairman of the National League to explain the problems and ask what the likely penalties were if the Club was unable to stage the game. The situation was critical.

At this point we had to deal with;

  • no Stewards
  • no Club Shop
  • no badged replica kit
  • no chefs
  • no beer
  • no bench wear
  • no shirt numbers, and
  • no match balls

This note is intended to communicate effectively to all supporters and is for transparency and not an excuse or to pass blame. I am not going to go into all the problems we had on Saturday because you already know, having experienced them yourselves.

On the day, we had Stewards and Staff that failed to turn up, system IT failures, player injuries and some very angry people to deal with. However, despite all of this, we got the match on as best we could expect given the circumstances. The team result was poor as was our service in certain areas but all in all, everyone went home safely.

We are confident that as people return from holiday and new staff gain more experience, the service will improve as we hope will results.

Lastly, we would like to thank you all for your patience and understanding during this time.”

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“The Isthmian Football League strongly supports the FA statement that there should be a zero tolerance approach against racism and all forms of discrimination. Accordingly any form of discriminatory abuse whether it by reason of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion and belief, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, sex and sexual orientation 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).The Isthmian League and all Member Clubs in the League are committed to promoting equality by treating people fairly and with respect, by recognising that inequalities may exist, by taking steps to address them and providing access and opportunities for all members of the community.”

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
Chair Stuart Fuller
Directors Ed Briggs, Charlie Dobres, Karen Dobres, Stuart Fuller, John Peel, Ed Ramsden, Claire Rafferty (co-opted) Trevor Wells
Chief Executive Officer Maggie Murphy
Club Secretary John Peel
Match Coordinator Jessie Maes
Youth Secretary Kevin Brook
Operations Manager James Barker

Equality FC Campaign Manager Karen Dobres

Life Members
Mr and Mrs Brook, Vic Blunt, Pat Dartnell, Gary Elphick, Gordon Fowlie, Peter Hiscox RIP, 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

Manager Tony Russell
Assistant manager Joe Vines
Head of Recruitment Adam Drew
First team coach Dale Hurley
First team coach Nathan White
First team physio Lydia Woodland
Goalkeeping coach Grant Hall
Match logistics Vik Dogra
Kitman Clive Burgess
Data Analyst Shaun Harrison
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 Stuart Fuller
Club Photographer James Boyes

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