Saturday 2nd April 2022 3pm – The Isthmian Premier League – The Dripping Pan

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Welcome to The Dripping Pan for this afternoon’s Isthmian Premier League game against Wingate & Finchley. Here is your complimentary e-programme.

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Good afternoon and welcome back to the Dripping Pan for this afternoon’s match against Wingate & Finchley. I’d like to welcome Aaron and his fellow board members, the fans, the players and management from The Blues and hope they enjoy our off the field hospitality.

It has been a good week for us on the pitch. We came away from Folkestone Invicta with three deserved points and then on Tuesday night I thought we played some of the best football of the season as we beat Margate 2-0. It was one of those games that could have finished 7-5 – Margate will feel very unlucky they didn’t get on the scoresheet but likewise we were good for a few more goals. But in terms of a performance it had Tony purring post match. It was a tough job choosing a Man of the Match – Deshane was unplayable at times, Bradley rolled back the year and Lew Carey was alert to danger. We gave it to Casey who has been outstanding since he came to us and showed his versatility in the second half, slotting in at left back.

Ah the pitch. Still the debate rumbles on about why all of a sudden have we brought in an external contractor to work on it. One look at the league table will tell you why. We still have a real shot at promotion through the play-offs with just four weeks to go. An exceptionally dry winter hasn’t helped our pitch at all. Grass needs water to grow but it also needs care over and above what the club can provide with the resources available. So in addition to the normal preparation work including rolling and cutting, we’ve been doing all manner of things on the pitch. That’s meant we’ve not needed to roll or cut as much as possible – so Roger has not needed to be doing the things he needs to do as regularly as he had been doing but he’s still our pitch artist and working in conjunction with Jordans to give Tony the best possible surface with just three games to go here.

There’s four weeks left in what has been a rollercoaster of a season. A week ago defeat against Folkestone Invicta would have effective ended our season. Seven days later, we’ve jumped back into the top 5 and stand a real chance of staying there. In the next seven days Cheshunt head to Hornchurch and then host us – those two games could go a long way to shaping the play-off situation. Whilst we are still carrying a few injuries – Rhys and Ollie notably, the squad are motivated to fight until the final game of our season.

We had the opportunity on Tuesday night to remember the remarkable life in football of Derrick Parris. As I spoke in the eulogy I gave prior to the match you can’t move away from the name Parris with Lewes Football Club and we will be forever in the debt of what Derrick did for this football club. I’m sure there will be a longer term way to commemorate his commitment and contribution to the club.

Enjoy the game and get behind the team.

Come on you Rooks!


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Good afternoon everyone. Last Saturday was a massive game at Folkestone. They were in the play-offs and we knew we had to win to keep our hopes of leapfrogging them alive. Two teams who had a bit shaky form on a very dry and bobbly pitch – it was never going to be a classic. But both sides played their own styles and that made for a close game. Folkestone tried to play the ball long into our box and I thought we dealt with their threat very well. We went into a deserved 2-0 and then they “scored” right on half-time but the less said about that the better otherwise I will get myself in trouble!

In the second half Lew made a great save with his legs, possibly the only save he had to make. We had our chances too – Raz and Olu both had great opportunities. We deserved the win and that increased the confidence levels in the side going into the game on Tuesday against Margate.

The pre-match weather was perfect for us – light rain that made the surface really slick. I spoke before the game about playing with a bit more freedom and using the conditions to our advantage. The result was one of the best performances we have had in a long time. Two nil perhaps didn’t do justice to our performance and it was fantastic to see the chances we created. It was an emotional night as well, saying goodbye to another great servant and fan of the club in Derrick.

It’s the second time this season we’ve gone out and put in a performance to make everyone feel proud in such emotional circumstances and I was really proud of how the players held themselves. We wanted to put on a performance for the family – if we can lighten the atmosphere by even half a percent then I hope we are helping in a way. We played some lovely football and in the second half we could have grabbed a few more. What can you say about Razz? He doesn’t do tap-ins, does he? He’s playing on one leg at the moment, carrying an injury but he won’t give up just yet with so much still to play for.

We still have a few fitness concerns. Carlsy missed Tuesday and Ken came off at half-time, both with muscle injuries. But we are so lucky to have a squad that is so adaptable. Casey slotted into left-back in the second half and won man of the match, running Deshane really close. That was probably his best performance since he joined us. He came to us with a strong reputation from his time and QPR and that performance showed what ability he has.

I could keep going on about individuals and their performances this week but we need to focus on today. Wingate & Finchley are a dangerous side – I’ve watched them a few times and whilst they have lost, they could and probably should have won both. They have individuals who play off the cuff which makes it really hard to put a strategy in place to counteract them. We need to be on our game today otherwise we could get beaten. But our concern needs to be on ourselves.

We’ve got five games left and we know if we win them all, we are in the play-offs so we are going to give it our all and see where it takes us. Two weeks ago after that injury time defeat to Bishop’s Stortford we were as flat as a pancake and we thought we’d blown in. But now we have half a chance.

You, the fans, were outstanding again on Tuesday night. The players use social media just like the fans do so when they read some negativity it does impact them. But when we put in performances like we’ve seen this week the positive comments and feedback has a major impact and makes my life a bit easier! We are so fortunate to have such a passionate fan base and it is something all the players talk about in the dressing room.

So I need your help just as much as the players need my help. Come and support us in our final games of the season, bring a mate or two and really get behind the team – your support makes a huge difference and we want to give you a season to remember.

Come on you Rooks!


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It is fair to say that The Dripping Pan is a special football ground but many were perhaps surprised when a book was published in 2020 that featured our ground as Britain’s greatest…but I wasn’t.

The book, compiled by Mike Bayly had been years in the making. Myself and Mike go back a few years when he was heavily involved with today’s visitors. He wrote a superb book back in 2010 called Changing Ends, which was a study into the state of the Non-League game at the time and that’s where we first met.

We spoke regularly about his anthology on the beauty of football ground and he secretly revealed a year before publication that Lewes had come out top in the fan vote but his challenge was to now photograph as many of the grounds in the top 100. For those who have seem the book I am sure you’ll agree it was worth the wait.

Mike is here today and I’m sure we can find a couple of copies around for him to sign – you can buy a copy of his book alternatively here.

Welcome back Mike and we hope you enjoy the afternoon.

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The Rooks travelled to South West London to take on Kingstonian at the Cherry Records Stadium but how much of that game can you remember?


#1. What colour shirts did the Rooks wear for this game?

#2. Who grabbed the Rooks equaliser in the 90th minute?

#3. Which current Rooks player shares a surname with a player who started the game for Lewes?

#4. Who opened the scoring for the Rooks?

#5. What was significant about the result?

#6. BONUS - Who was the Rooks unused substitute who only made one appearance for the club?

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The iconic Lewes poster, an artistic nod to street artist Banksy work “Kissing Coppers”, who once said “copyright is for losers”, was topically produced for the game against Met Price for a Valentine’s Day special. One of the biggest ever selling posters, the original artwork was unveiled in 2004 on the side wall of the Prince Albert pub in Brighton. Due to the consistent damage to the art, the landlord decided to have the piece removed and transferred to canvas, replacing it with a replica in 2008. The owner of the pub, Chris Steward, ultimately made the decision to sell the original in 2014 at an auction in Miami where it was sold for $575,000.

Nearly 550 watched the Rooks lose 2-1, with our goal coming from Tommy Brewer in the first half. Whilst the Rooks avoided relegation at the end of the season on goal difference, at the other end of the table Met Police missed out on the play-offs in a similar manner, having finished the season level with East Thurrock United.

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One of my favourite ever moments in Non-League football came at Dorking Wanderers in a top of the table clash in January 2017. With the game perfectly balanced at 1-1 and just 15 minutes to play, boss Darren Freeman decided to go for broke and prepared to bring on forward Dan Perry for left-back Matty George. As the youngster readied himself a long ball over the top of the Dorking defence saw Jonte Smith race clear.

“Go on…Go on…” shouted Freeman

Perry, still wrestling with his shirt thought the gaffer was talking to him and so he sprinted onto the pitch to join the attack. Unfortunately, Freeman wasn’t and the referee, alerted to the situation that Lewes now had 12th players on the pitch by his assistant stopped play and showed Perry a yellow card and ordered him to return to the technical area.

Perry joined us in the summer of 2016 from Burgess Hill Town where he had an injury-interrupted spell. He lined up for the Rooks in the opening game of the 2016/17 season against Walton Casuals, then a week later in the 6-1 FA Cup win over Redhill.

In the 35th minute of the FA Cup tie against Sevenoaks Town at The Pan, Perry landed heavily on the hard surface. He was stretchered off having suffered a neck injury and was taken to hospital. Fortunately, there was no bad injury to his neck but he suffered concussion with ended up keeping him out of the side until that game in January at Dorking Wanderers, which was his last, brief appearance in a Rooks shirt.

Perry headed to Crowborough Athletic and Haywards Heath Town where he found goals once again. At the start of the 2018/19 season Dan headed to Eastbourne Town where he scored 45 goals in 47 games, although he had a spell at Saltdean United and AFC Uckfield Town in that period. This season he’s been at Three Bridges and has scored 17 goals so far this season including four against Ashford United in February.

A really nice young lad who had his Lewes career cut short due to injury so it is great to see him back enjoying his football again.

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Finchley can stake the claim to be one of the oldest football clubs in the country, having been founded way back in 1874, and the peak of their success came in the early 1950s. In 1952-3 the Finches reached the third round proper of the FA Cup with wins over Chelmsford City, Kidderminster Harriers and Crystal Palace (3-1) before going down at 2-0 at Shrewsbury Town.

Meanwhile north London neighbours Wingate – named after General Orde Wingate – were formed in 1946 as a Jewish football club with the remit of combating anti-Semitism. In 1991 the two clubs merged and Finchley’s refurbished Summers Lane ground was renamed in honour of long time Wingate supporter Harry Abrahams. The merged club still retains something of Wingate’s founding Jewish identity, including the Star of David on the club’s badge and being able to ask for games falling on Yom Kippur to be moved.

In 1995 the new club, under the name Wingate and Finchley, won promotion from the South Midlands League to the Isthmian League third division. Promotion in 1999 took them up to the second division, but relegation followed a year later. League re-organisation placed them in Division One North in 2002, then the Eastern Division of the Southern League, before returning to Division One North of the Isthmian League in 2006 following a further major league re-organisation.

In 2010 the Blues finished third in the Ryman League One North, missing out on promotion after suffering play-off defeat to Enfield Town. However, this disappointment was amply made up for the following season. A repeat third-spot finish culminated in a 3-2 extra-time play-off final victory over Brentwood Town. This success was the middle leg of a remarkable treble that included lifting both the Ryman League Cup, with a 2-0 victory over Dulwich Hamlet, and the London Senior Cup, with a 3-1 win against Hendon.

In 2017 Wingate and Finchley finished fifth to qualify for the play-offs, but went down 1-2 at Bognor Regis in the semi-final tie. The subsequent three seasons saw a period of uncertainty both on and off the pitch, with short management stints for ex-England International Nicky Shorey, former Premier League stalwart Glen Little, and ex West Ham Academy and Wingate & Finchley favourite Steve Clarke. There followed two null and void seasons under the stewardship of Spencer Knight due to the COVID pandemic. In the summer of 2021, Blues legends Ahmet Rifat (Director of Football) and Marc Weatherstone (Manager) were appointed as the new management team after nearly 1000 first team appearances between them.

Our visitors this afternoon lie in 17th place in the league on 38 points after 37 games.


Marc Weatherstone – Manager

Marc was appointed Wingate & Finchley manager at the start of this season. The former club captain who spent 10 years with the Blues, amassing a total of 459 games played, returned to Summers Lane following two seasons at Enfield Town. The former midfielder also spent time as a player with Dulwich Hamlet. 

Ben Goode – Goalkeeper

Ben joined the Blues with plenty of experience having previously played for AFC Hayes, Uxbridge, Harrow Borough, Potters Bar Town & most recently Chesham United.

Loic Hernandez Defender

Loic returned to the Blues for a second spell, having spent some time on loan with the club in 2018/19. He joined from Barnet, where he came through the ranks and signed his first professional contract in 2018.

J’Ardell Stirling – Defender

J’Ardell is a strong, vocal defender who can use both feet and is always looking for a pass. He previously played for Arlesey Town and was a member of the Luton Town Cedars Scholarship programme.

Daniel Pappoe – Defender

Daniel is a full-back with 21 appearances for the Blues this season.

Jake Eales – Defender

Jake Eales is a centre-half who joined the Blues from QPR for the 2017/2018 season when he achieved Young Player of the Year in his debut campaign. He was previously with Fulham.

Lewis Hobbs – Defender

Lewis is a 22 year-old centre-back who started out at Crystal Palace and has 33 appearances at the back this season for the Blues.

Matthew Achuba Defender

Mathew, a defender, has previously played for Ebbsfleet United and has 31 appearances for the Blues this term.

Sam Hatton – Defender/Midfielder

Sam is an experienced and versatile player in both defence or midfield. He began his career at Stevenage Borough, then went onto play for AFC Wimbledon, Grimsby Town, and Enfield Town.

Luke  Ifil – Defender/Midfielder

The Blues say Luke adds pedigree and balance to the side and describe him as possessing tenacity, vision and technical ability in the middle of the park. In 2019/20, he reached the impressive milestone of 200 Wingate & Finchley appearances, establishing himself as a loyal servant to the club.

Tommy Tejan-Sie – Midfielder

TJ is one of Blues longest-serving players who has become known as a technical midfielder with good passing ability.

Tyrique Clarke – Midfielder

Ty in 29 appearances has 1 goal and 1 sending-off to his credit this term.

Antonis Vasiliou – Midfielder

Antonis has made 13 appearances this term with a return of 3 goals.

Kavan Cotter – Midfielder

Kavan started his career in the Arsenal Academy before eventually joining Luton Town’s U13s. Kavan joined the Blues from Wealdstone late on in the 2019/20 season.

Theo Ofori – Midfielder

Theo has accrued 19 appearances for the Blues this term with a return of 3 goals.

Dylan Kearney – Forward

Dylan has 8 goals to his credit in 17 league games this term.

Liam Smyth – Forward

Liam, is a Northern Ireland U19 international who joined the Blues recently from Stevenage Borough, where he made his first-team debut at the age of 17.

 Jabir Laraba – Forward

Jabir previously played for London Tigers, Wembley FC, Ashford Town, Uxbridge, Northwood and Kensington & Ealing Borough; 25 appearances but just 1 goal return.


27th Nov 2021 Wingate & Finchley 1 Lewes 1
3rd Oct 2020. Wingate & Finchley 4 Lewes 1
29th Feb 2020 Wingate & Finchley 1 Lewes 1
9th Nov 2019. Lewes 1 Wingate & Finchley 2
19th Jan 2019. Lewes 4 Wingate & Finchley 2
29th Sept 2018 Wingate & Finchley 0 Lewes 1



The Rooks suffered a home defeat on a wet Autumnal day at The Dripping Pan after two first half goals from the visitors. Wingate & Finchley took a third minute lead when Charlie Ruff broke free from his marker and slotted the ball home from the edge of the box. The visitors doubled their lead when a deep cross to the back post was met Henry Ochieng who headed unmarked past Nathan Stroomberg-Clarke. After the break the Rooks pulled a goal back when Charlie Coppola was the fastest to react after Stefan Ilic’s shot was saved. However, the visitors held onto the lead to take all three points back to North London.

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(*again…and not quite home, but close by)

Last week it was confirmed that the combined Football Associations of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will be submitting a formal bid to host UEFA 2028. Despite a derisory announcement that Russia will be submitting a bid, it looks like the tournament is heading back to these shores. All good so far. But once the official boxes are ticked, and the tournament host is confirmed in September 2023, the bun-fighting will start as to who will be hosting the games.

As part of the successful bid criteria, any nation(s) must have to have the following:

  • 1 stadium with 60,000 seats
  • 1 stadium (preferably 2) with 50,000 seats
  • 4 stadiums with 40,000 seats
  • 3 stadiums with 30,000 seats

Most tournaments recent major international tournaments have used a minimum of 10 stadiums – such as the 2024 championships which are being hosted by Germany and the 2016 event in France

The good news across the five nations we have plenty of stadiums ready today that meet the criteria – although only three of the nation have 60,000+ capacity stadiums which could host a final. In fact, in London alone we currently have four stadiums (five if you count Twickenham) that have capacities of 60,000+ and three more than are (or will be) over 30,000 so could potentially host a tournament on its own!

Based on the working assumption that 10 stadiums are used, it would be likely that England would get 4 (Wembley, Old Trafford – assuming it is significantly redeveloped, Newcastle United and perhaps Leicester City to give a Midlands presence), Scotland 2 (Hampden Park and Murrayfield or Celtic Park depending if a Glasgow/Edinburgh split is preferable), Wales 2 (Millennium Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium), Northern Ireland (Windsor Park) and Republic of Ireland (Aviva Stadium). There will almost certainly be some debated on the English stadiums – after all there are currently 29 English football stadiums who have capacities above 30,000.

The question will be if the host nations want to maximise revenue through ticket sales, or take the tournament to the four corners of the nations? If it is the latter then could we see games played at Brighton, Milton Keynes and Southampton as we are in the Women’s Euros this summer. Alas, if it is the former, then expect only the national stadiums plus a token few others to be used – hardly something that will get most pulses racing.

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Goals from Joe Taylor and Razz Coleman De-Graft saw Lewes climb back into the play-off places with a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Margate at the Pan, reports Tom Harper.

Tony Russell made two changes to the side that beat Folkestone 2-1 in their previous game, with Juevan Spencer and Taylor Maloney replacing Tom Carlse and Michael Klass in the starting line-up.

Lewes spent the opening minutes camped in the Margate half, working the ball out wide and giving the visitors plenty of defending to do with a number of dangerous crosses.

Despite this, the first clear-cut chance of the game fell to Margate, who saw Louis Collins denied by Lewis Carey at the end of an incisive counter-attack.

The Rooks soon began to turn their possession into chances though, with Deshane Dalling forcing a smart save from Ben Bridle-Card in the Margate goal after latching onto a flick-on from Joe Taylor.

Bridle-Card then had to be alert seconds later to push a powerful drive from Razz Coleman De-Graft onto the bar.

Lewes took the lead their early pressure had threatened after 12 minutes, Taylor volleying past Bridle-Card from close range after a Taylor Maloney corner had been helped goalwards by both Will Salmon and Mitchell Nelson.

Taylor came close to doubling his and Lewes’ tally minutes later, but shot over the bar after a Kenneth Yao cut-back had found him in space just inside the area.

The visitors continued to pose a threat with their pace in the final third, with Benas Vaivada getting in behind the Lewes defence before mis-hitting his shot under pressure from Juevan Spencer.

They came even closer to levelling the scores with their next attack, a Ben Greenhalgh free-kick from the edge of the area dropping just wide.

The Rooks nearly made the most of this with their final attack of the half, as a slick passing move ended with the impressive Bradley Pritchard shooting just wide after being picked out by a clever Deshane Dalling pass.

Margate had the first chance of the second half, the unmarked Crossley Lema steering a Greenhalgh free-kick just past the far post.

Lewes made the most of this let-off by doubling their lead on 59 minutes, Spencer winning the ball in midfield before playing in De-Graft, who cut in from the right and made space for himself before unleashing a superb strike past Bridle-Card and into the top corner off the underside of the bar.

Their two-goal cushion gave Lewes a greater measure of control and they were enjoying plenty of possession, with Pritchard and half-time substitute Michael Klass pulling the strings in midfield.

Margate stayed in the game though, and their pace continued to test the Lewes back line, Collins getting in behind twice, drawing a fine save from Carey with his first attempt, and then seeing his second effort minutes later beat Carey but come back off the inside of the post before the rebound was blasted over the bar by Fyn Rutherford.

The Rooks saw out the closing stages comfortably and came close to adding a third goal through Dalling, whose well-hit strike from the edge of the area was pushed over the bar by Bridle-Card in the final meaningful action of the game.

Lewes: Carey, Yao (Klass 46), Spencer, Salmon, Nelson, Pettit, Maloney, Pritchard (Olukoga 83), Dalling, De-Graft (Addy 64), Taylor.

Unused Subs: Phipp, Hall.

Booked: Yao, Nelson, Pettit.

Margate: Bridle-Card, Hatfull, Odaudu, Agyemang, Lema, Swift, Vaivada (Bessey-Saldanha 62), Blackman, Collins, Rutherford (Feyi 76), Greenhalgh.

Unused Subs: Colmer, Lamb, Bola.

Booked: Swift, Blackman.

Attendance: 601

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A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be in Budapest watching league leaders Ferencvaros host 2nd place Kisivadas. In the 30th minute of the game, after a patient move upfield the home side won a corner. Prior to the kick being taken the referee was asked to come to the sideline and review a decision that had been spotted by the VAR team. He subsequently awarded a penalty kick, to the away side, for an offence, unseen by most in the stadium that had occurred over 4 minutes previously. The away side said thank you and converted the spot kick to give them an unlikely lead.

VAR has changed top level football but in terms of penalties, has it made it more equitable? Last season in the Premier League a record 124 penalties were given – 50% higher in the 2017-18 season, the season prior to the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee. Last season 22 penalties were given by VAR, 19 of which weren’t originally seen by the referee.

So whilst VAR has changed the picture, so too has the concept of having penalty specialists, both as takers and savers.

In the 2019 Carabao Cup Final, with the game between Man City and Chelsea heading for penalties Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga defied manager Maurizio Sarri and refused to be substituted for Willy Caballero. The keeper saved one penalty out of five, but City still won 5-4.

Lightning does strike twice as we saw in the 2022 final, when once again Chelsea lost on spot kicks, with Kepa Arrizabalaga given his chance to remain on the pitch. However, he failed to save any of the 11 Liverpool spot kicks then when it came to his turn to take one as the last outfielf player, he blasted the ball high into the fans behind the goal.

Back in the 2014 World Cup the opposite happened. Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal substituted his goal keeper in the 120th minute of the game versus Costa Rica. Fans and pundits were aghast that he took off Jasper Cillessen and replaced him with Newcastle United’s Tim Krul, especially as Krul’s record in saving penalties was average at best. Krul saved two penalties in the shoot-out, the Dutch won and Van Gaal was heralded as a tactical genius. Interestingly enough, in the next game, the Semi-Final against Argentina also went to penalties and Krul wasn’t deployed. The Dutch lost. Coincidence?

In his 2014 book, Think like a Freak, U.S. Economist Steven Levitt examined the odds on scoring based on how the penalty is taken. 75% of penalty kicks taken at the professional and semi- professional levels are scored. If a keeper guesses the right side of the goal then the odds fall to just 40%. Whilst the best option is to hit the ball into the corners, the chance of missing rises dramatically. The Economists data set suggests that keepers move to the left on 57% of penalties and to the right on 41%, which means you stand a much higher chance of scoring if you hit it down the middle, yet less than 20% of penalty takers ever plan to put the ball straight down the middle.

Some penalty takers have legendary status. Antonin Panenka won the 1976 European Championships for Czechoslovakia with what would be called today “an audacious chip” against West Germany. West Ham’s teenage full back Ray Stewart kept his nerve to equalise at Wembley Stadium with the final kick of the 1981 League Cup Final against the legendary Liverpool side. Stewart scored 81 out of 86 spot kicks during his West Ham career, whilst he netted 3 out the 5 remaining kicks from the rebound. Fellow Hammers full-back Julian Dicks adopted the same “smash it down the middle” style during his career, scoring 35 out of 38. Southampton’s most famous son, Matt Le Tissier, went one step better than Dicks and Stewart, scoring 47 out of 48 spot kicks.

In the 1980/81 season, Bobby Robson had assembled one of the best squads English football ever seen. British players such as Terry Butcher, Russell Osman, John Wark and Paul Mariner were combined with the skills of the Dutch duo, Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen. The Blues came within a whisker of the league title, a FA Cup semi-final but on the bridesmaid tag to one side by capturing the UEFA Cup. In March of that season they beat Manchester United 6-0 – a score that could have been so much worse if the United keeper Gary Bailey hadn’t saved three Ipswich penalties.

But you cannot talk about Ipswich and penalty saved without mentioning Paul Cooper. In the 1979/80 season alone, the Ipswich keeper saved 8 out of the 10 penalties he faced. This was in a time when keepers weren’t even allowed to move along their line as they can today. The following season, The London Evening Standard, as it was known back then, arranged a competition between Cooper and Ray Stewart for charity. Stewart scored 6 out of 10 – less than his normal success rate but still fairing better than some of Cooper’s other opponents.

Of course we could write a whole story about other England players misses. Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle in the 1990 World Cup semi-final, Gareth Southgate against Germany in the 1996 European Championship semi-final, David Batty in Japan in 2002 against Argentina, David Beckham v Portugal in 2004, Ashley Cole in 2012 against Italy in Ukraine and then Bukayo Saka in the final of UEFA 2020 against Italy at Wembley. Over 30 years of penalty shoot-out hurt.

A final note on penalties to end on. The race for the Isthmian Premier League Golden Boot is still very much alive. At the time of writing, Worthing’s Ollie Pearce leads the way with 32 goals, with Enfield Town’s Mohammadu Faal on 31 and Joe Taylor with 26. What is amazing though is that between the three they have scored 22 penalties (about 25% of their goals) with a 100% success rate, underlining the importance again of having a deadly spot kick expert in your team.

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Step 1 to 2

Dover Athletic are already relegated. Starting the season with a minus 12 points deduction, they are still in the negative with just one win all season. They will drop into National League South and are likely to be joined by Kings Lynn Town and Weymouth, who are nine points from safety. The former would likely go into the North division where they came from and Weymouth into the South with Dover Athletic.

From Step 2, the champions (currently Maidstone United and Gateshead lead their respective divisions) and the two play-off winners will be promoted. In the National League, play-off places extend down to 7th place.

Step 2 to 3

Due to the National League running three teams short of their compliment of 24 sides in each division, rather than promoting more sides, they have naturally chosen to relegate less. So only one side from each of the National League North and South will be relegated to Step 3.

In the North that could be any one from five sides realistically – Guiseley are currently bottom but have games in hand, Farsley Celtic, AFC Telford United, Blyth Spartans and surprisingly, last season’s front runners, Gloucester City.

In the South it is just as tight with Welling United (30pts) and Billericay Town (30pts) currently propping up the table but with games in hand on Bath City (33pts), joined by Chelmsford City (31pts) and Tonbridge Angels (33pts).

Going up will be 8 teams – the 4 Step 3 winners and the 4 Steps 3 Play-off winners. As we stand today the four champions would be Worthing, Buxton, Met Police and Banbury United.

Step 3 to 4

Nine teams will be relegated from Step 3 to 4 at the end of the season. The two bottom placed teams in the four leagues plus the 3rd from bottom with the worst points per game record. It is nine rather than ten teams as the Southern League Central is only running with 21 clubs after the withdrawal at the start of the season of Abingdon Town.

At things stand at the moment, Kings Langley in the Southern Premier South would be the unlucky third from bottom side.

Going up with be the eight Step 4 Champions (currently Hastings United, Bracknell Town, Aveley, Liversedge, Warrington Rylands, Ilkeston Town, Bedford Town and Frome Town) plus the eight play-off winners. Whilst a couple of the leagues are relatively clear cut (Bracknell Town have already won the title, Hastings ten points clear), the others such as the Isthmian North are very close indeed.

Step 4 to 5

This is where it gets tricky. There are 16 Step 5 Divisions in the country. The 16 champions will be automatically promoted. The ten best second placed clubs based on a points per game average will also be automatically promoted.

The six second placed clubs that are not automatically promoted will each contest a play-off match against one of six teams from Step 4. There are 8 Step 4 Divisions. The 8 bottom clubs and the 8 second bottom clubs at Step 4 will be automatically relegated. The 2 third bottom clubs with the the highest points per game average will be reprieved but the remaining six third bottom clubs will contest the play-off matches mentioned above. The play-off matches will all take place on the grounds of the Step 4 clubs and the matches will be arranged on the best geographical fit decided by the Football Association.

The winners of each play-off match will play at Step 4 in 2022-23 and the losers will play at Step 5.

The bottom clubs in each of the 16 Step 5 Divisions will be automatically relegated to Step 6. The four second bottom clubs with the worst points per game average across the 16 divisions will also be relegated.

As we stand today, the following clubs could be promoted to the Isthmian League (at Step 4), taking into consideration the geographical boundaries of the leagues:

  • Hanworth Villa (already crowned Combined Counties North Champions) and Southall
  • Walton & Hersham and Beckenham Town (from Combined Counties South)
  • Walthamstow (already crowned champions) and Stansted from the Essex Senior League
  • New Salamis (Spartan South Midlands) who play at Haringey Borough
  • Littlehampton Town and Saltdean United (Southern Combination)
  • Chatham Town and Sheppey United (Southern Counties East – the latter has been promoted)

Some of the leagues are still very tight – in the Southern Combination for instance Newhaven are still in the mix, whilst the winners of the Eastern Counties League (Wroxham or Gorleston) could come into the Isthmian Leagues, as too may Lowestoft Town if they are relegated from the Southern League at Step 3.

Any further withdrawals from within the National League System will impact upon the situation outlined above.

Simple, right?

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After the gutting last kick defeat at home to Bishops Stortford the previous week this was a must win game. That defeat was doubly disappointing for Cafe Researcher PJ as he had the nil-nil Golden Goal ticket. With games running out anything other than a win would see the prospect of a play off place almost vanishing out of sight. With all the other teams seemingly in imperious form, and coming on the back of two heavy defeats, Invicta look like the only team we might be able to leapfrog. But a win over them would be mega-essential to close the gap to three points. So even then we would be relying on them dropping further clangers.

The omens weren’t good. We don’t ever remember getting a decent result at the BuildKent Stadium, but with this Lewes team you never know what you are going to get. Little did we know what a day we were going to have!

What a beautiful day. The sun was out. Winter coats were consigned to the rear pegs in the closet, jumpers and thermals left in the drawers. PJ even did his bit for the environment by having a pleasant sun drenched stroll all the way to the station to meet up with Gary the Badge and Steve.

We were aiming for an early start on the 09.27 out of Lewes towards Eastbourne. Gary had bought the tickets from Mr Happy at the ticket office the day before. They don’t always tell you this, but it’s much cheaper to get to Folkestone West (and Margate/Ramsgate/Hythe/ etc etc) via Hastings and Ashford International. If one just asks for tickets to Folkestone they will try and sell you a ticket via London at about three times the price. Roly joined the party at Polegate and PJ produced the Lemon Sherberts bought in the pound shop half price sale. What a tightwad. The first hurdle, a change at Hampden Park, went smoothly and a gaggle of Rooks fans boarded for the pleasantly scenic journey to Ashford International.

A stroke of luck came our way. A Folkestone West train that we shouldn’t really have been able to get on was a few minutes late getting into Ashford. So we jumped on that instead of being fleeced in the station Costa. We would be really early in Folkestone now.

Crikey. We were in Folkestone, five minutes walk from the ground and it wasn’t even half past eleven. We would have time for a starter, a main, a pudding and all the tea in China.

PJ had the dining arrangements sorted. Or so he thought. The plan was to eat at the Windmill Cafe which had some excellent Tripadvisor reviews. We strolled up Cheriton Road towards it.

“It doesn’t look very busy”.

“That’s good as it’s not a big place”.

“It looks a bit dark in there”.

“They’ve probably just got the lights off”.

Of course it wasn’t busy and was a bit dark. It was bleedin’ closed. Closed on a Saturday morning? What’s that all about? What now? It would be a long walk into central Folkestone to The Full English where we had dined before and had toyed with the idea of revisiting. There was a KFC and a Domino’s nearby. No thanks, and a team of wild horses wouldn’t drag Gary into the Subway. PJ was quicker on the draw with his phone than The Sundance Kid was with a Colt 45. Thank the Lord for Google Maps!

“There’s a place a bit further up the road that might do”.

Another couple of hundred yards brought salvation in the form of The Beano Cafe. Panic over lads! Emblazoned with those three beautiful little words “All Day Breakfast” it looked ideal. It had all the Stodgebuster favourites on the menu. Endless combinations of eggs, bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms, hash browns, black pudding and anything you like with chips. Excellent. One could even read a copy of The Beano Annual 2008 while one waited for ones food. What more could one ask for?

PJ and Roly both went for a ham omelette with chips and beans. With a cuppa that came to £6.60 each. What a bargain. It was flippin’ good too. Gary went for the non-Weightwatcher recommended Full English with additional Extra Healthy fried bread. Steve went a bit left field and had a rather un-Stodgebuster like Panini which we thought was a pack of football stickers.

All finished and it still wasn’t even 12.30. OK, so we had another round of teas and coffees to eat up some time while Gary had a cherry pie and custard dessert and we discussed burning issues such as how come The Bash Street Kids have been in school for over sixty-five years? And why didn’t Dennis the Menace ever get an ASBO?

Ten thousand calories and a dose of cholesterol later we exited for a stroll to the ground via the junk shop almost next door.

Gary and PJ like a good rummage around these places, as does Roly who is partial to a bit of rare vinyl. We would be good on Bargain Hunt. Gary invested in a small cuddly panda for his beloved. That would keep him in her good books. The crawler.

13.45 and we are at the ground. Gary made a bee line for the club shop to check out the badge situation while the others retired to the bar to raise a glass to the sadly departed Lewes legend Derrick Parris.

No Ollie in the line up. No Reece Murrell Williamson or Maloney either. That wasn’t good news. Folkestone started well But Lewes soon got into the game. Before long a lovely pass From Brad the Gardener found Dalling on the left he took it on a few yards and his shot took a lovely deflection. Well, it was lovely from our point of view. It wrong footed the keeper and crept just inside the post. The keeper should have done better but we were quite pleased he didn’t. The sizeable Lewes contingent including the Youth Wing voiced their approval. 

We had already seen one free kick overhit straight out of play when another one seemed to be going the same way. Our groans stopped though when Salmon leapt like one barely a yard from the goal line and headed it back across goal. There was delirium behind the goal when it incredibly dropped in at the far post. What a header! To even get to it was incredible and to be able to direct it like that was astonishing. Two nil up just before half time. Brilliant. Now let’s hang on until half time.

We don’t make things easy at Lewes. Of course we didn’t hang on and conceded just before half time when some pinball occurred in our box and the ball ended up in the net. Lewes players complained about something and the bench didn’t look very happy but we didn’t know why. Tony looked like a man on a mission as he strode purposefully over to see the referee at the half time whistle and was obviously upset over something. We only found out later that the ball was put into the net by a home player laying offside on the goal line.

Lewes were under the cosh for much of the second half. In fact it resembled the Alamo at times. Corners and crosses were lumped into the box but the defence put their bodies on the line and defended heroically, so much so that we could only recall Carey having to make one save, although we had our chances too. Time ticked on. Could we hold out?

We were very aware that our train was due to depart at 1702. With a 6 minute brisk walk we really didn’t want much additional time. We edged our way around towards the exit for the last few minutes ready for a fast getaway. We don’t know where the referee got all the added time from. What a dilemma. Stay or go? We needed to go but our season rested on this result.

“Come on ref, that’ll do!”

Six additional minutes played and someone committed a foul just outside our box. It seemed to take an age to organise the wall. The clock ticked on. Our train had left Dover on time and was on its way.  Damn it. We were in the starting blocks but we just couldn’t go. This one kick could virtually end our play-off hopes.

“Just kick the ****** thing!”

They did eventually. It sailed beautifully over the bar heading for the English Channel and we were out of the gate like an ageing Billy Whizz. The final whistle went as we were striding out across the car park. Five minutes to do a six minute walk to Folkestone West. The train was pulling in as we arrived and we still had to get through the subway to the other platform. Well done to one of the youngsters who put his foot in the door and we all got on. That was too close. We could have done with a physio and some oxygen as we flopped red faced, breathless and with aching joints into our seats. Never again. We’re too old for that. We’ll wait an hour for the next train next time.

We were back in the play-off race. Tuesday night against Margate beckoned and hopefully Horsham could do us a favour against Folkestone.

The Stodgebusters will return at Cheshunt. That could be a virtual shoot-out for the last play-off spot. Come and join us to cheer the lads on.

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We all need lubricant in our lives, right? Well Liverpool have got you covered with their relationship with Holly Frontier who became the club’s official oil and lubricant partner in 2020.

HollyFrontier, along with its commercial brands, including Sonneborn and Petro-Canada Lubricants, became the first ever partner in this important category for the then Premier League Champions.

Bruce Lerner, president, HollyFrontier Lubricants and Specialties, said: “We are proud to partner with an organisation that shares our commitment to excellence.

“As world champions, Liverpool FC is a global leader in its field and shares HollyFrontier Lubricants and Specialties’ performance-ready ethos.”

Perfect alignment with the fan base.

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Sixty years ago this summer the 1962 FIFA World Cup in Chile kicked off….and in one particular game, it kicked off big style. Coined the Battle of Santiago, the match between hosts Chile and Italy was so violent that BBC anchor David Coleman was forced to give a warning before it was shown on TV and even today, as you can see from the message below, it is age-restricted on YouTube. But it is 3 minutes of unbelievable play, especially when we remember this was an international match being played in the most respected tournament in the world.

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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 Sue Anstiss MBE (co-opted), Ed Briggs, Scott Currie, Charlie Dobres, Karen Dobres, Stuart Fuller, Lucy Mills, John Peel, Ed Ramsden, Claire Rafferty (co-opted), Sally Taplin, Trevor Wells
Chief Executive Officer Maggie Murphy
Club Secretary John Peel
Fan Engagement Manager Shrey Nilvarna
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 Tom Parker
Goalkeeping coach Grant Hall
Match logistics Clive Burgess
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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  1. Yellow
  2. Jordan Badger
  3. Lee Carey
  4. Jonte Smith
  5. We were relegated

Bonus – Leon Dramis

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