Monday 29th August 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 Hastings United. Here is your complimentary e-programme.

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DUE TO THE DROUGHT CONDITIONS AND THE EXTREMELY DRY GRASS ON THE MOUNTFIELD ROAD SIDE OF THE GROUND WE ASK THAT FANS REFRAIN FROM SMOKING IN THIS AREA

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NOTES FROM THE CHAIR

Afternoon everyone and welcome back to the Pan for our first competitive meeting with Hastings United for what seems like ages. I’d like to welcome the fans, officials, management and players from down the coast and hope they enjoy our hospitality today, especially Billy Wood who I’ve had a fair few discussions with over the past few years about various aspects of the game and the plans for the club.

COVID delayed this fixture by two years. Like our rivals Worthing, Hastings United were denied promotion in two consecutive seasons. They dominated the Isthmian League South and I know they will be a strong side at Step 3. It will also be good to see former Rooks Gary Elphick, Jack Dixon and Ben Pope today.

Our win last weekend against Bishop’s Stortford was very sweet and just showed how far we have come as a squad in a short period of time. It would be hard to find anyone who watched the game to remember we played with ten men for over an hour. We didn’t “hold on” or “win against the odds” but played some excellent football and scored two fantastic goals. Tony will tell you that we are still a work in progress but even so it is a joy to watch.

On Saturday it is fair to say we left Corinthian-Casuals disappointed we hadn’t taken all three points, but still really happy with another strong performance where we dominated possession. We hit the bar twice and almost had a winner when JT’s header was well saved – it was great to see him back in the action too after his lay-off with an ankle injury. If we play like that every week we will certainly win a significant number of games this season.

Next Saturday we have a tricky FA Cup trip to Sheppey United, our first ever visit to Holm Park for a competitive game (we actually played a mid-season friendly there last season behind closed doors). Sheppey were promoted last season from the South Eastern Counties Premier League, gaining over 100 points along the way and are very well set up off the pitch as those visiting next Saturday will see. Our FA Cup record over the last fifteen years is poor and every year we go into the competition with a hope of this could be our year. Naturally, I am telling myself it is!

Finally, you may remember that at the end of last season I mentioned that I would be stopping editing the progcast, which means writing, sourcing, chasing, haranguing and generally spending hours before each home game ensuring fans have something to read on a match day. Well, I’m still here because we’ve had very little interest in someone taking over. Due to time pressure, I’m going to have to scale the next one back to a bare minimum (we are obliged to produce something) unless we have a willing volunteer who is able to take this on.

Keep it loud and Come On You Rooks!

Stuart

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TONY’S THOUGHTS

Hi everyone and welcome back to the Pan for a game I know fans of both sides have been looking forward to for some time.

Last Saturday I said our game against Bishop’s Stortford would give an indication as to how far we had come since we came back as a squad in late June. We started off really brightly and controlled the game. We should have scored when Alfie Young had a chance early on, when the ball fell to him from Jack’s free-kick. And then out of nothing we lost Will. Both centre halves got drawn to the ball and then when it came back over their heads, the gap was there after a great third man run. Will’s tried his best to get there but didn’t quite – we all know the rules and so no complaints on the red card. It was poor from us defensively being drawn into the situation but we continued to play the way we would have with eleven men and continued to control the game.

We scored a great goal, but in the lead up to the goal, some eagle-eyed fans will have noticed us working the pocket on the edge of the box – a few minutes before the goal our build up play eventually materialised into a shot from Razz that the Stortford keeper saved down low. A few minutes later a similar move saw Ronan shoot just over and then finally, we worked it again down our left, their midfield got sucked in which allowed Ronan to look up and hit a perfect strike into the top corner.

We felt comfortable at half-time, and we spoke about Stortford coming out and really giving it a go, but it was important that we remained positive and played to our strengths. We discussed what we would do if they equalised and the importance of not retreating and playing deep.

The equaliser came from nothing but a really well worked goal. Champs pushed him wide, onto his weaker foot but Merrifield is a good player and he still found the moment to hit a great shot across Lew and into the net. The boys reaction was just as we had spoken about at half-time, not playing on the back foot but looking to score again. Razz’s finish was superb and I felt we ended the game the stronger side and in many ways, it was hard to believe we had one less man.

The win will do wonders for the mental mindset of the squad and enables us to go into this weekend of games positively. It is never ideal playing Saturday and Monday, especially when both games will be so different. Corinthian-Casuals score a lot but also concede a fair amount – they are a very attacking side which may leave them short at times at the back. I know Tony Reid well, he will have them fired up. On Monday we host Hastings United, a brilliant football club and it is great to have them back up at this level. They play slightly different, a bit more defensive and put bodies behind the ball and we will have to be patient, wary of their counter attacking style.

We’ve had a decent start, without being spectacular, and we have to back that up now and put our best foot forward this weekend. I look forward to seeing a big crowd on Monday and a great atmosphere – your support last Saturday was amazing and we hope to do it all again on Monday.

Come On You Rooks!

Tony

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INTRODUCING OUR VISITORS – HASTINGS UNITED

THE HISTORY

The present Hastings United Football Club appears to have existed continuously since 1901 having undergone three changes of name. One consequence of those name changes has been that the club’s history has become inclined to be interwoven with that of other clubs with similar names and only recently may its history have been disentangled which is why this what is considered accurate history may now read somewhat differently to previous versions. The origins of the club began with the founding of old town side Rock-A-Nore in 1894; however, five years later they became defunct but in 1901 a new club started-up using the same name. In April 1921 it was agreed to change the name to Hastings and St. Leonards Football Club.

Another name change to “Hastings Town” was passed in the 1960’s, but then in June 1985, the already existing “Hastings United” ceased trading when it was found they could no longer sustain their accumulated debts. Hastings Town made application to take over their Southern League place but Witney objected as United’s demise had saved them from relegation from the Premier Division and, instead, Town were offered a place in the League’s Southern Division. Several ex-United players joined Town and the unified side featured in the promotion race during their first two seasons but just missed out finishing third and fourth in 1986 and 1987, respectively.

Season 1998/99 saw an attempt to transfer to the Isthmian League refused but having resigned from the Southern League they were only accepted back as new entrants and started season 1999/2000 in the Eastern Division which they won in 2002. At this time the club finally acquired the company name Hastings United and since have played under that title.

Promoted to the Premier Division a twentieth position finish saw them make an immediate return to the Eastern Division but a first appearance was made in the F.A. Challenge Cup competition proper when the side went through to the first round proper after winning in a replay at Kettering Town. Sadly, there was to be no meeting with a Football League side to evoke memories of their namesake’s glorious cup history, instead it was a visit to another Conference side, Stevenage Borough, where the dream ended with a 0-1 defeat. Relegation and the F.A.’s Non-League restructuring moved the side into the Ryman Isthmian League where they finished in eleventh and twelfth places in Division One in 2005 and 2006. Following a fourth place finish in season 2006/07, promotion to the Premier Division was won by defeating second placed Tooting & Mitcham United in the end of season play-off final.

The 2009/10 season was United’s most successful since gaining promotion. They looked likely to make the end of season play-offs until a late dip in form saw them finish in seventh place. They reached the semi-finals of the Sussex Senior Cup, losing to Brighton & Hove Albion but found no success in the FA Cup, FA Trophy of League Cup.

Manager Tony Dolby left the club in December 2010 and was replaced by Jason Hopkinson who was previously assistant manager at Lewes. Results picked up which enable the club to retain its Premier Division status. Results in the cup competitions were again disappointing.  Jason left the Club during October 2011 following a disappointing start to the season and was replaced by central defender Sean Ray. United again found themselves in a relegation battle but managed to preserve their Premier Division status.

A poor league season in 2012/13 saw the club relegated from the Ryman League Premier Division. There was considerable cup success, however.  An FA Cup run saw United reach the third round proper before losing 4-1 away to Championship side Middlesbrough.  They also reached the semi-finals of the League Cup, losing away to Concord Rangers, and the Sussex Senior Cup when they lost 1-0 to Bognor Regis Town.

Three days prior to the start of the new season manager Sean Ray resigned his position.  Assistant Mark Stapley and coach Terry White are in temporary charge. John Maggs was appointed as manager towards the end of August 2013, formerly with Crawley Town, Horsham and Crawley Down Gatwick.

John Maggs was dismissed towards the end of January 2014 and replaced by former player Terry White. Two other managerial changes were made during the season when results were disappointing especially as many had tipped the club to be challenging for a play-off place.

Towards the end of season 2014/15 the club changes hands when a new board of directors was appointed.  Garry Wilson was appointed as manager during the close season with Danny Bloor joining as assistant manager.

Garry Wilson and Danny Bloor stepped down at the end of the 2015/16 season to be replaced by former United player Darren Hare who had previously been with Gillingham FC undertaking a number of rolls including caretaker manager.  Darren rebuilt the squad during the close-season with a number of new signings.

After an excellent season which ended with a play-off semi-final defeat, on penalties, away to Dorking Wanderers, Darren Hare resigned. His replacement was Adam Hinshelwood who once again had to rebuild the side as a number of players moved on. Adam resigned during September 2017 to take on the managers role at Worthing FC and was replaced by his assistant Chris Agutter who remained at the helm on a full time basis until his resignation at the end of October 2021. November 2021 saw Gary Elphick appointed as Men’s First Team manager with Andrew Brown continuing in the role of  Assistant First Team Manager and Jon Meeney brought in to strengthen the coaching staff.

Season 2021/22 see the ‘U’s achieve promotion by winning the Isthmian League South East Division and taking their place back at Step 3 for the first time since 2013.

THE SQUAD

Louis Rogers Squad No 1
Position: Goalkeeper
Date of Birth: Jul 25th, 1998 (Age: 24)

Homegrown talent rising from the U23s. The agile shot stopper has been integral to the ‘U’s table-topping success over last couple of seasons. Spent some time out gaining experience under dual registration with AFC Uckfield Town.  Made his 100th ‘U’s appearance last season.

Ollie Black Squad No 2
Position: Defender

Date of Birth: Oct 24th, 1997 (Age: 24)

‘U’s Academy graduate player. Rejoined the club in December 2018 after a spell with Eastbourne Town. Made his 100th senior Hastings United appearance last season.

Ryan Worrall Squad No 3
Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: Mar 14th, 1997 (Age: 25)

Started learning his trade at Brighton & Hove Albion Academy. Signed for Hastings in 2019 after returning to the UK, having spent 15 months in New Zealand with Tasman Utd. Previously had spells with Eastbourne Boro, Tonbridge Angels, Bognor Regis Town, and Horsham.

Finn O’Mara Squad No 4
Position: Central Defender
Date of Birth: February 3rd, 1999 (Age: 23)

Former Gillingham Academy graduate who made his professional League One debut against Blackburn Rovers on 30 September 2017. Signed for an undisclosed fee by the U’s on a two-year deal following a successful period on loan from Folkestone Invicta where Finn made over 100 senior appearances.

Craig Stone Squad No 5
Position: Defender
Date of Birth: Dec 29th, 1988 (Age: 33)

Started his career at Gillingham.  A leader, consistent winner and great character. Craig joined the ‘U’s following promotion from the Bostik Premier with Tonbridge Angels. Prior to that he enjoyed success and lengthy spells at Ebbsfleet Utd, Dover and Eastbourne Boro. Now in pursuit of promotion number 5. Technically a very good defender who can play at either Centre Back or Central Midfield.

Tom Chalmers Squad No 6
Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: Sep 24th, 2002 (Age: 19)

TC has been with Hastings United since 13-years-old and is a highly regarded graduate of the flourishing ‘U’s Academy. Broke into the senior ranks in the 2019/20 season, making his debut at just 17. An attacking midfielder who can drift past opponents whilst having a real eye for goal. In July 2021 he captained an England Colleges XI.

Gil Carvalho Squad No 7

Position: Attacking Winger

Gil joined the ‘U’s in May 2022 after spending the 2021/22 season at Haywards Heath Town. Recently had an International call-up to represent Sao Tomé and Príncipe NT.

Jack Dixon Squad No 8
Position: Central Midfield
Date of Birth: Sep 29th, 1990 (Age: 31)

Home-town player. ‘Dicko’ made his debut for Rye United as a 16-year-old in the Sussex County League and had trials at several League clubs before signing for Hastings United in 2011. After 87 matches over two seasons and being an influential member of the team that reached the third round proper of the FA Cup, he transferred to Lewes in July 2013. Joined Dulwich Hamlet in the autumn of 2014 from Lewes for whom he had netted 19 goals from midfield the previous season. Scored on his Hamlet debut at Harrow Borough in November 2014. Since returning to his home-town club Jack has passed 280 appearances in claret and blue. Awarded President’s, Manager’s and Players’ ‘Player of the Season’ at the end of 2018/19.

Ben Pope Squad No 9
Position: Centre Forward
Date of Birth: Sep 19th, 1997 (Age: 24)

Signed from Lewes ahead of the 2019-20 season. Started learning his trade at Brighton & Hove Albion Academy. Prolific scorer and previous promotion winner with Worthing, where he was their youngest goalscorer for the senior side in the club’s history. Ben has spearheaded Hastings attack for the last three seasons. A natural goalscorer, netting 51 times in 91 appearances in United colours.

Sam Adams Squad No 10
Position: Midfielder
Date of Birth: Dec 11th, 1986 (Age: 35)

Home-town player, ‘Super Sammy’ is a Club legend and record appearance holder, now exceeding 600. Sam played for the Hastings Youth team and also spent time with Rye and Iden United before signing at the Pilot Field in 2005. He was part of the squad that sealed promotion in 2007, and although he has had spells at Rye United and Hythe Town, he has been a mainstay of the United first XI ever since. Netted 150 times for the U’s.

Sam Hasler Squad No 11
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Date of Birth: Nov 14th, 1992 (Age: 29)

Sam signed for Herne Bay, in July 2013.  Signing for Isthmian Premier Folkestone Invicta in October 2016 for an undisclosed fee. Hasler scored Folkestone’s ‘Goal of 2016-17’ with a stunning free-kick against Isthmian Premier champions      Havant & Waterlooville. Was included in the 2017-18 Bostik Premier Division ‘Team of the Season’ selected by the managers. Signed for the U’s during 2021/22 pre-season from promotion rivals Ashford Utd.

Alex Brefo Squad No 12

Position: Central Defender/Midfielder

20-year-old Brefo signed in July 2022 from Cray Valley PM. Alex made 25 appearances for the Millers last season. He previously played for Phoenix Sports and South Park. Prior to that he was on the bench five times for National League Bromley, where he played in their Academy. Powerful athlete who provides flexibility with team formations.

Kai Brown Squad No 14

Position: Attacking Winger

Kai joined the ‘U’s in June 2022 after a second spell at Grays Athletic, where he made 30 appearances and scored 2 goals. Kai first came to prominence at Athletic, making 27 appearances during the 2017-18 campaign despite being only sixteen-years-old. His form earned him a move to Ipswich Town, and he made a first team debut for the Tractor Boys, was a big part of their Under-23 squad, and also performed well in loan moves with Dagenham and Redbridge and Hemel Hempstead Town. He started last season at Welling United.

James Hull Squad No 15

Position: Forward

Academy product. Prolific scorer for the U23s who featured well within the first team squad last season. Scored 4 goals in the ‘U’s U23s Sussex Cup win over Newhaven in January 2022 and helped the team to clinch the 2021/22 Isthmian Development League South division title. James has made 19 first team appearances netting 3 goals.

Kane Penn Squad No 16

Position: Defender

Joined the first team squad last season. Previously with Eastbourne United.  Picked up a Man of the Match award in November for his performance against Isthmian League South East title contenders Cray Valley PM and again for his New Year’s Day performance against Lancing in front of the Club’s highest league attendance at the time of 2,017. Has now made over 25 first team appearances.

Knory Scott Squad No 18
Position: Attacking Winger
Date of Birth: Jun 6th, 1999 (Age: 23)

Scott joined Kidderminster Harriers’ U23s side ahead of the 2018/19 season making numerous first team appearances in the early weeks of the 2019/20 season following his competitive debut against AFC Telford Utd. Scott made his senior debut with the Bermuda national team in a 0–0 friendly with Guatemala on 15 October 2019. Knory has since been capped twice more, netting his first international goal in March 2021. Joined Hastings from Harriers in 2020.

Jake Elliott

Position: Defender

Returns to the U’s after spending last season at National South, Eastbourne

Borough. Made 50 appearances for Hastings before his move at the end of 2020/21. Powerful defender who provides flexibility with team formations.

Joe Gbode

Position: Striker

On loan from Gillingham.

THE FORM

HEAD TO HEAD RESULTS

26th Dec 2017Isthmian League SouthLewes2Hastings United0
28th Aug 2017Isthmian League SouthHastings United1Lewes2
17th April 2017Isthmian League SouthLewes4Hastings United4
26th Dec 2016Isthmian League SouthHastings United3Lewes0
9th April 2012Isthmian Premier LeagueLewes2Hastings United1
26th Dec 2011Isthmian Premier LeagueHastings United0Lewes1
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ISTHMIAN PREMIER LEAGUE ROUND-UP BY IAN TOWNSEND

Potters Bar Town hit the summit, Invicta deliver the comeback of the day, and we’ve wins for Canvey, Haringey, Enfield Town, Aveley and Hastings. It’s our Pitching In Isthmian Premier round up

Bognor Regis Town sat on the top of the table at the start of the day, but we expected that the Rocks may have a testing afternoon in prospect nonetheless, as they welcomed Potters Bar Town to Nyewood Lane. The Scholars certainly weren’t overawed by the noise generated by the home faithful, as they went ahead eleven minutes before the break when Quentin Monville found the bottom corner, and five minutes later Finlay Titchmarsh made it two, a lead they held into the break.

The Rocks weren’t finished. Tom Chalaye came on from the bench and got one back with twenty minutes left, but they couldn’t find an equaliser. Six hundred and ninety seven watched on, and the Scholars went top.

Folkestone Invicta, were on the road to Billericay Town, and by half time it looked as if that unbeaten record had gone, Bradley Stevenson and Jacob Bancroft giving the Blues a two-nil advantage. Adam Yusuff had other ideas, and got his second in two on the hour to give his side a boost, and in the last ten minutes the visitors turned the game on its head, Ibrahim Olutade scoring twice to send the Kent side up to fourth and leave the home fans shattered. Billericay are nineteenth.

Hornchurch travelled to face another Essex side, Canvey Island, and after a goalless first half we had a goal within five minutes of the restart- and it went to the Urchins, Remi Sutton giving them the lead. That sparked the Gulls into life- and how! A red card from Joe Christou for the Urchins gave them hope. Four minutes from time Danny Parish drew them level, and then right before the end Bradley Sach sealed three home points.

Carshalton Athletic , impressive in defeating Horsham on the road last weekend, were back at Colston Avenue to face Haringey Borough. The visitors- who had taken only one point from their three opening matches- had a terrible first few minutes, losing Michael O’Donoghue to a red card, but the ten men went ahead eight minutes before the break, Anthony Mendy with the goal. Despite pressure from the Robins they held out- eighty three minutes plus added time with ten men- to take three points back to White Hat Lane. Borough hadn’t managed a victory against these opponents the last four times they’d met- they’ll enjoy this one.

Aveley had a brilliant start to the season before being badly derailed in that match against Bognor last weekend. The Millers were on the road to Wingate & Finchley, the Blues still looking for their first win of the campaign- and it was Wingate who struck first, Loic Hernandez opening the scoring on twelve minutes. The equaliser arrived just before the half time whistle, Kenny Aileru drawing the Millers level, and they went ahead four minutes after the restart, Benas Vaivada making it two-one. Despite home pressure they held out, and are up to second place.

Herne Bay’s match with Kingstonian was moved to Ramsgate due to ongoing pitch work at Winch’s Field, but it didn’t seem to hamper them in the early stages, as they went in at the break a goal to the good, Chris Edwards with that on twenty seven minutes. They looked to have taken all three points, but the K’s made it four draws from four with a Tyrese Owen equaliser four minutes from time.

Hastings United were hoping to pick up a win- their first- against a side who got their first three pointer last time out, Brightlingsea Regent. It didn’t look good for the hosts when Luke Skinner put Regent ahead after just seven minutes, but Gillingham loanee Joe Gbode grabbed the equaliser ten minutes later, and just before the break a more familiar name, Sam Hasler, put United ahead. The second half saw the home side delight most of the one thousand, one hundred and seventy six in attendance, Gbode becoming an instant hero with a second and James Hull making it four-one just before the end.

Finally, Enfield Town welcomed Bowers & Pitsea. The Towners had two draws and a defeat from their first three matches, whilst Bowers picked up their first points with a win over Herne Bay last time out, and would have been hoping to push on from that result. The Towners, who won both encounters last season, went ahead in this one, Lyle Della-Verde opening the scoring in the twenty eighth minute- and they doubled their advantage five minutes from time, Jake Cass with their second. A red card for Ryan Kirwan right at the end made no difference to the outcome.

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LEWES 2 BISHOP’S STORTFORD 1 – SAT 20th AUGUST 2022

A superb team performance saw Lewes pick up an impressive 2-1 win over Bishop’s Stortford, despite being reduced to ten men with over an hour remaining, reports Tom Harper (pictures from James Boyes).

Tony Russell named an unchanged side after Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Carshalton Athletic.

Lewes made a bright start and saw Ronan Silva have an effort deflected just over the bar early on, with Alfie Young then drawing a smart save from Jack Giddens minutes later after the visitors had been unable to clear a Jack Skinner free-kick.

Stortford were handed a big advantage on 27 minutes, as Will Salmon was shown a straight red card for bringing down Oliver Peters on the edge of the area when he was the last man.

Peters sent the resulting free-kick just over the bar, and Russell then took the opportunity to tighten up the defence by bringing on Mitchell Nelson to replace Rhys Murrell-Williamson.

The visitors came close to making the most of their numerical advantage through Terrell Egbri, who shot over the bar from the edge of the area after Marcel Elva-Fountaine had been dispossessed.

Lewes took the lead in spectacular fashion just before half-time, as Ronan Silva picked the ball up in midfield before unleashing a superb long-range strike past Giddens and into the top corner.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the visitors started the second half on the front foot and came close to levelling the scores within minutes of the restart, Lewis Carey making a superb save to keep out a close-range Frankie Merrifield strike after a dangerous Darren Foxley cross from the left.

Stortford weren’t to be denied for long though, and they levelled the scores on 64 minutes through Merrifield, who latched onto a ball in behind down the left before making space for himself and sending a clinical finish across Carey and into the bottom corner.

Lewes could have been forgiven for sitting back and protecting their point due to their numerical disadvantage, but they continued to commit players forward when possible in an attempt to test the visitor’s backline.

The Rooks were rewarded for this approach when they regained their lead on 70 minutes, Razz Coleman De-Graft sending a powerful strike from the edge of the area past Giddens and into the corner after Silva had been dispossessed at the end of an incisive passing move.

The visitors nearly equalised for a second time minutes later, only for Peters to volley a Merrifield cut-back from the left over the bar when well placed.

Substitute Jonathan Giles came closest to rescuing a point for Stortford in the closing stages, seeing a long-range strike hit the outside of the post with Carey beaten and then drawing a smart save from the Rooks’ goalkeeper at his near post after a quickly-taken short corner.

Lewes were defending resolutely, staying organised and putting their bodies on the line as they looked to record a second successive home victory.

The Rooks could even have sealed all three points at the start of injury-time, only to see Silva denied by Giddens at his near post after a quick counter-attack.

Lewes saw out the remainder of the game comfortably, holding on to pick up a superb victory against last season’s runners-up and move onto seven points from a possible nine after the first week of the season.

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TALES FROM THE FOOTBALL TOURIST

In a new series, Lewes Chair Stuart Fuller reports back on his travels around the world watching football. This week he’s visiting Europe’s highest capital city…Andorra la Valle.

I’ve been to some sleepy places in my role as a Football Tourist but a Sunday afternoon in Andorra, the 16th smallest country in the world, takes some beating.  Looking for something, anything, to do for a few hours I had just completed a circuit of the country in just under an hour.  When I say circuit, I mean a 25-mile drive up the CG-2 through the “towns” of Vila, Encamp and Soldeu to El Pas de la Casa and back again.  For a spot of fun, I dipped my toe/front bumper into France and quickly retreated.  That seemed as daring as things got in Andorra on a cold Sunday.

Of course, in a month or so’s time I could have ascended the 100 or so lifts and skied down the mountains for hours on end in what some would consider “fun”.  But I am not one of those people who think throwing themselves down the side of a mountain at speeds faster than a boy racer on two bits of plastic (sorry, carbon fibre) is in anyway fun.  Useless fact number 2 for you – despite all of the snow and ski runs and it being the only real recreational activity, Andorra have never won a Winter Olympics medal.  So, instead I’ve completed only my second ever full-length continuous drive of a country (Liechtenstein ticked off a decade ago) and here are my observations from my comprehensive view of the country:

  1. They love a roundabout or twenty
  2. They love a petrol station (see later for the reason why)
  3. They love a small shopping centre
  4. They are a co-principality, a unique governing structure in the world today.  Co-principality means governed by two princes.  The two princes in this case (obviously the inspiration for the Saw Doctors song) are Emmanuel Macron, elected by the French population and Bishop Joan Enric Vives Sicilia, elected by the Pope no less.  If they can’t agree on a decision, it doesn’t happen which is probably why people here are so happy.  I read this (useless fact number 4) when I stopped at the Tourist Information centre, the only place open in town at 3pm.

Andorra la Vella is not only the highest capital city in Europe at 3,356 feet above sea level, but the 10th highest city in the whole of the continent. But the third random fact for you,  did you know it is the most visited capital city, per head in the world?  No, neither did I but the 10m visitors a year puts it in a league of its own.  Ten million people crammed into such a small space seems like a recipe for disaster.  However, about nine million nine hundred thousand of them aren’t really tourists – they are Spanish or French residents who simply nip over the border to fill up their petrol tanks as fuel is significantly cheaper and buy their teabags and washing powder (the two big money savers according to the bar man in my hotel) from the conveniently located shopping centres (hence why there is so many of both).

I was here to watch FC Andorra play and so far my journey so far had been smooth.  Too smooth as it turned out, which became apparent when I headed for the 1pm kick off.  Hands up here, I got my time zones and directions all wrong.  In such a small country it surely shouldn’t be difficult to find a football ground but I struggled.  I comforted myself that I had an hour spare as I parked my car at the hotel in Andorra la Vella and walked down the hill and across the river to where I thought FC Andorra played.  There was no game on.  Thankfully, my O-Level French allowed me to ascertain from Twitter that FC Andorra didn’t play at Carrer Prada de Moles but Estadio Prada de Moles, in Encamp, around 4 miles up the road – a mistake we call could have made, right?

So back to the hotel, in the car and I finally arrived with 20 minutes gone in the game.  Except it wasn’t a 1pm kick off, it was a 12pm kick off meaning that we were 65 minutes gone in the game.  Brilliant.  There was nothing I could do apart from sit brooding at the back of the small stand and admire the snowy landscape that had led to the orange ball being used for the first time in the season, probably in Europe.

FC Andorra are the new kids on the block in these parts.  They are owned by FC Barcelona’s Gerard Pique, who when he wasn’t cheating on his wife of the time Shakira, or trying to redesign the Davis Up, was trying his hand at owning a football club.  Why FC Andorra you may ask (as I did) and the answer is all about money, in a way at least.  Pique’s investment firm Kosmos bought the club a year ago, wiping out the club’s debt and investing in the squad.  Even a small investment would be enough to waltz the Andorran league you’d think but it isn’t that simple.

The Andorran Primera Divisió is made up of just eight sides with Santa Coloma, from the village of the same name, being the current champions, a title they have won for the previous five seasons.  However, FC Andorra, despite their name, do not play in the Andorran league structure.  They have played for their whole 77 year history in the Spanish league and today play in the third tier, the Segundo Division B against the likes of Barcelona and Espanyol B, Valencia Mestalla and of course, Prat.

The impact of Pique’s involvement can certainly be seen on the pitch.  Going into this game they sat in the play-offs for promotion to the second tier and had a Copa Del Rey tie against La Liga side CD Leganés in Andorra to look forward to before Christmas.  However, it has been the method of their current high-profile success that has got tongues wagging in Spain and Andorra.  Last season the club started in the Primera Catalana, the fifth tier of Spanish football.  The new players brought in after Kosmos’s investment saw them win fifteen of their last nineteen games to win promotion to the Tercera Division (fourth tier).

Then, in an unusual set of events which may have had nothing to do with Pique’s or Kosmos’s profile, they were promoted to the third tier in the summer after CF Reus Deportiu were demoted for failing to pay their players. With an additional spot for the third tier most league associations would have offered it to the next placed team in the league, which would have been UE Sant Andreu.  Instead, the vacant position was put up for sale and FC Andorra found the necessary €452,022 down the back of the sofa and were given the place.  And who said football wasn’t all about the money?

Whilst success on the pitch is probable, off the field there’s still a lot of work to be done.  The Prada de Moles stadium sits in an incredibly picturesque valley, with steep mountains on either side.  The current set-up is not big enough for their ambitions, let alone their existing cup exploits.  At the moment the ground only has capacity for just over 500 fans.  Promotion this year would mean playing against sides currently in tier 2 such as Real Zaragoza, Rayo Vallecano, Malaga and Deportivo La Coruna.  Obviously, a capacity of just 500 is simply not going to be enough.  Whilst there’s no set minimum capacity for promotion as there is in the UK, in recent years it has been suggested by the Spanish FA that a stadium with a capacity of near 10,000 is required (Eibar are the side with the current smallest stadium at just over 8,000) to play in La Liga.  Quite how they will accomplish this is a mystery – even a move down the road to the Estadio Nacional would only give them just over 3,000 seats.

At least I got to see some action as the home side ran out 2-1 winners, although Espin’s goal for the visitors with twenty minutes to go did give the home side some concern that their long unbeaten run would come to an end.  

Post-COVID and the club have indeed now made it to the second tier of Spanish football, moving down the road to the national stadium. In August 2022,  club announced future plans for a new 6,000-capacity stadium on the site of the existing Camp de Fútbol de Prada de Moles, with an estimated cost of €26 million.  Build it and they will come…but only if they can buy cheap petrol or ski down a mountain side.

You can read more of Stuart’s travels on his website, The Ball is Round.

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PLAYER SPONSORSHIP

You can sponsor the player of your choice, subject to availability, for the 2022/23 season and get your name in lights, plus a home or away shirt signed by your player and presented to you at a home game. Contact Shrey for more details at Shrey@lewesfc.com.

PLAYERSPONSORPLAYERSPONSOR
Lewis CareySusie ArlettJack Skinner
Tom CarlseHenry Muggeridge
Marcel Elva-FountaineRhys Murrell-WilliamsonTrevor Norwood
Kenny YaoDeshane Dalling
Tom ChampionTom, Alice & Russ MouldRazz Coleman De-Graft
Will SalmonDeon Moore
Mitchell NelsonJoe TaylorStuart Fuller
Ayo OlukogaFraser Middleton-Tozer
Bradley PritchardFinley Jenkins
Alfie YoungRonan Silva
Tom Phipp
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ON THIS DAY IN FOOTBALL HISTORY

Results

#1. On this day in 2015, who won at Anfield for the first ever time?

#2. Also on this day in 2015 Lewes travelled to Farnborough and were heavily beaten 5-1. But who scored our consolation goal?

#3. In the first Premier League season in 1992/93, how many clubs had stadiums with a capacity of more than 50,000?

#4. Not quite on this day but on Bank Holiday Monday 2012 we hosted Wealdstone at the Pan. What was the attendance?

#5. Our last Bank Holiday Monday game against Hastings United was in 2017. The Rooks won 2-1 but who scored the second half winner?

Finish
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MANCHESTER FINALLY HAS A EUROPEAN CHAMPION

During the summer you may have missed the news that Manchester celebrated a European Cup winning side. No? Well, you won’t have been alone in being unaware that FC United of Manchester won the inaugural FENIX Cup. Unlike some of the other strange competitions that are created whim and for no other purposes than sponsorship (The International Champions Trophy anyone or the Betway Cup?), this was a tournament with some meaning behind it.

Eight non-professional clubs (each one paired with a charity partner), chosen for their exceptional social, historical and cultural distinctiveness, were asked to join the competition, which had UEFA’s approval.

The teams represented 7 European countries: Italy, Spain, Poland, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Czech Republic. The 8 clubs were famous for a varied number of reasons: clubs rebuilt and run by the fans, clubs featuring significant social and cultural projects, clubs with extraordinary communication skills, etc. In short, a real European network among “cult” non-professional clubs.

Group matches started back in September, with the top side from each of the groups of four meeting in Rimini to determine the winners, which for the inaugural tournament was FC United who defeated Prague Raptors FC 2-0. Along the way, the club, and its fans, experienced away days (and nights) to Warsaw and Milan (where they played Brera in the iconic Arena Civica) although a proposed trip to Amsterdam was cancelled after the Dutch sideDWS withdrew. FCUM topped their group with maximum points, including a 10-0 win against the Polish side AKS Zly.

Who knows what the future may hold – it would be an interesting concept should Lewes be approached to enter. With Guernsey our only “away day” in the last decade, it would certainly be exciting for everyone to be involved in a pan-European tournament.

The final words come directly from our friends at FCUM in their post final write up:

“There was still plenty of joy and celebration in the stadium as the 400 or so FC United fans who had made the journey ran through their extensive repertoire to serenade the only British club to win European honours this season”

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CORINTHIAN-CASUALS 1 LEWES 1 – SATURDAY 27th AUGUST 2022

A late equaliser saw Lewes leave Corinthian Casuals with a point from a 1-1 draw after dominating the game for long periods, reports Tom Harper.

Tony Russell made two changes to the side that beat Bishop’s Stortford 2-1 in their previous game, with Ayo Olukoga replacing the suspended Will Salmon and Deshane Dalling starting in place of Rhys Murrell-Williamson, with these changes seeing Alfie Young move back into the heart of defence with Tom Champion.

Lewes had the first chance of the game, as Razz Coleman De-Graft cut in from the right before blazing his effort over the bar when well placed.

They came even closer to opening the scoring minutes later, Deon Moore latching onto a Ronan Silva through-ball before shooting straight at Sami Nabaad when through on goal.

The hosts made the most of this by going up the other end almost immediately and scoring with their first attack of the game, Benjamin Cheklit being picked out by a cross from the right before firing past Lewis Carey and into the bottom corner.

The rest of the half passed without incident, as Lewes controlled possession without testing Nabaad, while Casuals stayed disciplined and were seemingly content with frustrating the Rooks.

Lewes started the second half on the front foot, with Silva hitting the bar from just inside the box after being teed up by De-Graft, before Deshane Dalling drew a comfortable save from Nabaad with a far-post header from a Marcel Elva-Fountaine cross.

Nabaad was called into action again soon after, saving bravely at the feet of De-Graft as he ran onto a Jack Skinner through-ball.

The introduction of Joe Taylor, making his return from injury, just after the hour immediately gave Lewes a more physical presence up front as they looked for a route back into the game.

Despite this, Casuals could and arguably should have doubled their lead through Ibitayo Oyebola, who dispossessed Champion on the edge of the box before shooting straight at Carey with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Just as it was beginning to look like one of those days where nothing would go in for Lewes, they finally scored the equaliser their performance had deserved with eight minutes remaining.

The goal owed a lot to the hold-up play of Taylor, who turned his marker before firing in a low cross from the left that was deflected over the line by a covering defender to level the scores.

Taylor came close to winning it for the Rooks almost immediately after the restart, but saw his header hit the top of the bar after Tom Carlse had charged down an attempted clearance and the ball had looped back towards the host’s goal.

Lewes came even closer to scoring a winner late on, as Champion forced the ball goalwards after Alfie Young had headed a Bradley Pritchard corner down to him, only to see the covering Michael Abnett head the ball off the line with Nabaad beaten.

The Rooks continued to dominate possession late on, but were unable to find the winner their performance had arguably deserved and were forced to settle for a point from the first of two fixtures over the Bank Holiday weekend.

More pictures here from James Boyes

Attendance: 306 (approx 70 Rooks fans)

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THE ISTHMIAN PREMIER LEAGUE 2022/23 SEASON

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THE ISTHMIAN LEAGUE COMMERCIAL PARTNERS

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DIDN’T WE USED TO PLAY THEM? STAINES TOWN FC

In a new series, we look at clubs that we’ve crossed swords with in the not too distant passed but today for a multitude of reasons, today don’t exist. Today, we look at the sad demise of Staines Town, whose spectacular downfall was documented across social media and the national press in the last few months.

Our last game against Staines Town was in April 2016 in the Isthmian Premier League, little more than five years ago, when the two sides shared four goals – the visitors coming back from 2-0 down to grab a point. But there’s no chance that the two sides will face each other again. Lewes were relegated from step 3, whilst Staines Town flirted with promotion to the Conference South. But on the 23rd April 2021 the club played what appears to be their last ever game, losing 8-1 to Northwood at “home”. By “home” it was actually some miles away at Wealdstone FC, as Wheatsheaf Park, Staines’ home since the 1950’s, had been closed.

The tipping point for the club was the death of former Chairman Alan Boon who had seen the transformation of the ground and their rise up the leagues. Boon passed the baton over his son but not before he actually sold the freehold to Sheffield United Plc, the holding company of the Blades. In 2008 they sold it to Downing LLP, a London-based Investment Management company. Remember them, they play a key part in the current situation.

In 2018, Boon junior sold his shared to a new owners, a US-based former footballer called Joe Dixon and Paul Jaszynski as Chairman and CEO respectively. Whilst they had control of the football club, the ground was actually owned by The Thames Club, who ran the health and fitness club at the ground. This was the root of the issues to come.

Investment in the team dried up and if it wasn’t for COVID-19 in the 2019/20 season, the club would have been relegated to step 5, having being bottom of the Isthmian South Central division with just 14 points when the season was stopped. There appeared to be hope when the following season they were second in the league but COVID stopped their upward mobility.

So the club started the 2021/22 season with some hope. Alas, seven defeats in the first eight games set the tone and come Christmas they appeared to be odds-on for relegation. However, it was in March when the club hit the headlines for an absolutely bizarre statement issued by the club, ceasing all football operations with immediate effect, blaming Downing LLP for almost every crime under the sun including breaches of the Modern Slavery Act through their investment activity. Downing refuted the claims, Staines refused to play at home and to ensure no other team was impacted, the Isthmian League allowed them to play their final home games away from Wheatsheaf Park.

Their ten game run of losses and 127 goals conceded guaranteed relegation. Further claims were made in the summer, deadlines to join the Combined Counties League and the FA Cup were missed and the club simply faded away.

The fans have lost their club and whilst some may find a new team to follow, 130 years of history is in danger of just disappearing into the ether.

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TODAY’S TEAMS

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ON THE ROAD TO SHEPPEY UNITED – SAT 3rd SEPTEMBER 2022

About Holm Park
Holm Park has been upgraded over the last few years as the club’s ambitions and status have grown.  Worthy champions of the South Eastern Counties Premier League last season, thus gaining promotion to the Isthmian League for the first time, the club now has a thriving community programme thanks in part to the installation of a new 3G pitch a year ago.

There’s a main stand that straddles the half way line and covered standing behind each goal.  There is a big bar on the 1st floor of the club house.

How to get to Holm Park
The nearest station is Queenboroough, which is around 1.2 miles away and requires a change at Sittingbourne if coming via London Victoria.

Exit the station and at the end of the road turn left onto Main Road.  Follow this until the junction with the dual carriage way with the BP opposite.  Cross this road where you can safely and carry on into Queensborough Road around to the left.  Follow this for about half a mile and the ground will be on your left down Holm Lane.

By car follow the A23/M23/M25 and then A2/M2 coast bound.  At junction 5 head north onto the A249 (Faversham/Iwade) and follow this across the bridge onto the Isle of Sheppey.

At the first set of traffic lights turn right onto the A250. You will go through a set of lights between the Aviator Pub and the BP garage and carry on up the slight hill for approx half a mile. The turning is on the left directly opposite the St Peters church or St Peters Close as you take this left turn we are approx 200 yards down the lane on your left.

There’s limited parking at the ground so it’s street parking if that’s full.  The club has made use of the Sports Club next door previously so that may be available.

Admission to Holm Park
Admission is £10 for adults, £5 for senior citizens, £2 for under16s  if accompanied by and adult and under7s are free.

Where to drink
The nearest pubs are the Aviator and the Five Bridges which are on the walk from the station, beside the A249.  Both are chain varieties geared up for food and drink.

Highly recommended is the Old House at Home on the water’s edge at the start of High Street and the Admiral’s Arms Micropub on West Street.

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THE LAST WORD – JOE TAYLOR

Our roving reporter Danny Last caught up with Lewes’ Number 9 Joe Taylor about his match day rituals and life away from football in his latest 90 second interview.

Who do you support?

Manchester United. 

Oh dear, and do you have a favourite footballer?

Tough one there <sucks teeth> Dimitar Berbatov. 

Favourite TV show?

At the moment we are watching… no scrap that, Breaking Bad.  

Last album you listened to?

Not really a big album man but Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. 

Most embarrassing moment in football?

Missing a penalty in the last minute is never a good one and I’ve had that happen once before when I was 18 but I didn’t miss many last season. 

Is it true you get your haircut before every game?

Yes, every Saturday so don’t look at my hair today. (I caught up with Joe at the Dripping Pan open training session and during our chat he had a tracksuit top wrapped around his head but if getting your haircut every Saturday gets you 33 goals in a season then who are we to argue?)

Who is the best dresser in the squad?

It has got to be Mitchell Nelson. 

That’s two shouts for him out of three interviews so far. And the worst?

<without pausing for breath> Tom Carlse. 

Do you ever get mistaken for anybody else?

George Clooney. (At this point, dear reader, Joe and I fell about laughing until we moved it on to more serious matters)

Wotsits or Pringles?

My kids love Wotsits. 

Could you beat Tony Russell in an arm wrestle?

Without a doubt. 100%. 

Do you own a piece of football memorabilia?

Yeah, I’ve got all my shirts from teams I’ve played for over the years. I’ve got the Lewes away white shirt with number 9 on it and got everybody to sign that. I keep my own shirts which is good memorabilia for me.

Most likely to be late for training?

Rhys Murrell-Williamson. 

That’s got Razz off the hook for a week. Who’s the most famous person you’ve met?

David Beckham. 

Seriously? Go on…

My Dad & I waited after a Man United game when I was six or seven for two hours and he stopped and had a chat with us for about five minutes which was nice. 

And finally, can you name all of The Beatles?

John Lennon. Ringo Star. And that’s about your lot. 

That’s it. Thanks a million, George Cloo… JT. Keep banging them in for The Rooks. 

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LEGALS AND CREDITS

“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, Karen Dobres, Stuart Fuller, Lucy Mills, John Peel, Sally Taplin, Trevor Wells
Chief Executive Officer Maggie Murphy
Club Secretary John Peel
Fan Engagement Manager Shrey Nilvarna
Youth Secretary Ryan Sullivan
Operations Manager James Barker

Equality FC Campaign Manager Karen Dobres

Life Members
Peter Brook, Dorothy Brook RIP, Vic Blunt, Pat Dartnell, Gary Elphick, Gordon Fowlie, Peter Hiscox RIP, Billy Nixon, Derrick Parris RIP, 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
First team coach Nathan White
First team physio Toni Miller
Goalkeeping coach Grant Hall
Match logistics Clive Burgess & Vikram Dogra
First Team Performance Analyst Henderson Russell
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 Editor Stuart Fuller
Club Photographer James Boyes

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NEXT UP…

SATURDAY 17th SEPTEMBER 2022 – 3PM KO

HORNCHURCH – ISTHMIAN PREMIER LEAGUE

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

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TODAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS

  1. West Ham United
  2. Jordan Wilson
  3. Old Trafford at 55,119 capacity
  4. 609
  5. Jonte Smith