Saturday 22nd October 2022 3pm – The Isthmian Premier League – The Dripping Pan

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Welcome to The Dripping Pan for this afternoon’s Pitching In Isthmian Premier League game against Margate. Here is your complimentary e-programme.

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JOIN THE TEAM & BECOME AN OWNER TODAY!

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NOTES FROM THE CHAIR

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the Dripping Pan for this Isthmian Premier League game against Margate. I’d like to welcome our guests from the Kent Coast, and hope the players, management, officials and of course, the fans, enjoy our hospitality today.

It is amazing what a week and a bit in football can throw-up. A hard-fought win over Sevenoaks Town in the FA Trophy, followed by a painful defeat at Herne Bay, then a few days later we demolished third-placed Enfield Town away. Just as we prepared to take on Aveley, we were told by the Isthmian League, without any consultation, that the game was off due to the ongoing protests at the Dartford Crossing. Football would be so boring if it was predictable I guess?

I was delayed getting to Herne Bay last week, and we were 4-0 down when I arrived on the hour mark. Naturally, the scoreline wasn’t good and whilst we got a goal back it wasn’t a result we expected or wanted. The debrief on the pitch post match went on for a long time and the players came over and apologised to the fans. But looking back at the video, and the stats from our software it is an even harder result to take. We dominated the play, had plenty of shots and worked hard to win the ball back. Herne Bay were ruthless for a fifteen minute period and we paid the price.

Turning to Saturday, our first fifteen minutes were similar to Herne Bay – perhaps the difference was that we scored early and that gave us the confidence to stick to our strengths and we blew Enfield away, scoring four excellent goals. We defended superbly as well, especially when they threw everything at us in the final quarter. It is notable that two of our best performances of the season (Enfield Town and Bishop’s Stortford) have come against sides at the top of the table.

The challenge Tony and the management team is to keep that Enfield momentum going, especially as we have three home games here in the space of 8 days. The role you play as fans is key, especially here. Thank you to everyone to came to Herne Bay and Enfield Town – your support has been fantastic and the team really appreciate it. This is why the postponement on Tuesday was so disappointing – we had got some momentum and wanted to carry that into the game versus Aveley.

Next week we have the AGM and the opportunity to vote for new board members – details of whom can be found in this progcast. I’d personally like to say thank you to Karen Dobres, who is standing down from the board. Her contribution has been amazing in the last four years, really driving a number of our community programmes. I know there has been some questions raised about the most recent accounts, which will be addressed at the meeting. One key point I’d like to make is that we have no long-term debt (loans, overdrafts or long-term liabilities), and a significant amount of our people costs are funded centrally and from commercial partners. I am sure there will be other questions raised – as always I am open to answering any questions at any time from anyone.

Let’s get behind the team and Come On You Rooks!

Stuart

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TONY’S THOUGHTS

Good afternoon all. It wasn’t ideal preparation going into Saturday’s game at Enfield. Tuesday at Herne Bay most definitively didn’t go as we would have hoped. We brought the players in again on Wednesday night for an extra session – it was a brutal 72 hours but we felt that we had to do that. Half of our squad weren’t with us last season and so we are still getting them familiar with how we want to play and all that goes with our style, formation and strategy to games.

I know we’ve been frustrating to watch at times – no one is more frustrated than me. We’ve proved that we can hit the levels we want – Saturday was a great example of that, but so was Carshalton Athletic and Bishop’s Stortford. But when we come away from our plan, the drop off can be quite dramatic (such as last week at Herne Bay and at Three Bridges). We’ve been more inconsistent than we would have expected but the squad are constantly learning.

That session on Wednesday last week was hard but we reiterated to the players the approach we wanted to take at Enfield. We knew they would make it tough for us – the grass was long, the pitch is narrow. We knew if we could play to our strengths, retain and passing the ball, we would be in control and it would make it tough for them. And what we got was a superb performance and the players did everything we asked them to do.

We controlled the game for over an hour and scored four superb goals. We didn’t need to play deep but we did switch off for a few minutes and conceded a couple of headers. We knew what was coming next and we dug in and put our bodies on the line. It wasn’t pretty towards the end but we defended superbly.

After the game I said to the team “for 60 minutes we did it my way, for 30 minutes we did it your way. Now, which do you prefer?”

One other aspect to consider is we’ve a couple of players who we’ve put into unfamiliar positions, partly through necessity but also because we believe they can adapt and grow as players. Alfie Young is a centre-back but is doing a fantastic job in midfield, whilst Deon Moore is a centre-forward. We are working hard with Deon and we remind him (and ourselves) when we signed Ollie Tanner last year and worked on him until something clicked at Margate last season.

I do understand frustrations when we don’t win but it isn’t an overnight job to put a side that plays exciting, winning football together. We have a plan and it does require some patience. Just look at how far Razz has come in a year – we need to work with players. We are not going to be a club that is going to buy in big name players and throw them together and hope it all works out. Our strategy is based on bringing in younger players who may have had a few knocks in their careers. We want you to come on that journey with us but we also want you to keep in mind we won’t always get it right but we will always be heading in the right direction.

A special mention to Sam and Andrew who sent me messages after the Herne Bay game – it was a really nice thing to do and I shared it with the group.

Naturally we were all disappointed by the postponement of Tuesday’s game. We had prepared well, had our game plan and then we are told it is off due to the issues at the Dartford Crossing. It’s nothing we could control. We trained on Wednesday and it was an outstanding training session. I know that doesn’t guarantee anything but we got the feeling that we’d stepped up a level across the whole squad and management team. Nath’s prep work was top-notch, Toni was working hard with the injured players and the whole session flowed perfectly – the boys are now really understanding the patterns and approach and really bought into it.

We do have a couple of injury concerns for today but on the whole we have a strong squad fit and ready for today. We’ve also completed the signing of centre-midfielder Tyrique Hyde from Welling United. He fits the bill, the type of player that will add value to the squad. I first came across him when I was at Cray Wanderers when he was a first-year pro at Colchester United. He’d been loaned to Maldon & Tiptree and we played them in the FA Trophy and he ran all over us and was outstanding. We said at the time we thought he’d go on and break into the Colchester side. But for whatever reason it hasn’t quite worked out for him. He played against us last season when we faced Dartford in pre-season and again at Welling United this season. He reached out to us and said that he felt we were the club that could get him back on track towards the professional game, and more importantly, enjoying playing again. That’s exactly the type of player we look for, so please give him a big welcome today.

Margate are a good side and come here on the back of a couple of wins. But ultimately I know when we are going well and I feel that if we perform today we will get a positive result. We need to build on the momentum of last Saturday’s win at Enfield Town but we won’t be complacent against Margate because they have the players who can hurt us.

Keep up your superb support, be nice and loud and Come On You Rooks!

Tony

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LEWES AVELEY – TUESDAY 18th OCTOBER 2022

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BEHIND THE GLOVES – AN INTERVIEW WITH LEWIS CAREY

Last time out in the Isthmian Premier League, the lads crushed Enfield Town 4-2 to hand the opposition their first league loss since the end of August. Watching on from his goal mouth as Deon Moore, Jamie Mascoll, Marcel Elva-Fountaine and Razz Coleman De-Graft put four past the home side, was Lewis Carey.

“It played out quite well being 4-0 up after 60 minutes,” said Carey, reflecting on last Saturday. “Our confidence coming into the match was a bit low after losing to Herne Bay but last season we beat Enfield 4-1 on both occasions, so there was a bit of optimism.”

In the 57th minute, Enfield started a potentially threatening comeback as Jake Class opened the scoring for home team. With James Richmond then doubling their tally, Carey said, “Obviously conceding two goals puts you under a bit of pressure. Once that’s happened, you just want to steady the ship and hope we can go up the other end and score again.

“You’ve always got to be wary because 4-2 easily turns to 4-2 and then you’re holding on with ten minutes or so to go away from home against a good club. It heightens your concentration because a bit of confidence in the team has ben killed.

“In the end, the deciding factor for me was the mix of experience and young talent we have in the team, especially in defence. Will Salmon was my man of the match which is a tough one because Tom (Champion) is our captain but, I gave Will (Salmon) a dodgy pass and he got me out of it. That always gives them extra points.”

The Dripping Pan will host Margate this afternoon with the team currently 17th in the league with three wins, draws and losses to make up our opening nine games this season. With plenty of games left to push further up the table, Carey said, “You’ve still got to aim for those promotion spots. That was the aim at the start of the season, but I think at the moment, when we’ve not even played ten games, you’ve just got to take it game by game.”

Carey started his career out at Bristol City and went onto play for several clubs before finding himself in goal for the Rooks. As a youngster though, being between the stick wasn’t always the plan.

“I didn’t always want to be a goalkeeper as a far as I can remember,” said Carey. “The first time I went in goal was when my older brother needed someone to whack a ball at. I still played outfield for me school as a youngster but always found I didn’t mind diving around, getting a bit muddy and having the ball in my face a few times. I also grew up supporting Newcastle, so I idolised Shay Given, he was my inspiration to pursue goalkeeping.

“If I could play anywhere else though, it would probably be up-front. I don’t have the legs to be running about in midfield or chasing, quick pacy strikers at the back. So hopefully I’d pick up a few goals. But really, anywhere there’s less running.”

Carey has played in every league game this season as our trusted goal-stopper. With a chance to push five places up the table with a win here today, let’s give our number one all the support he needs.

Interview by Ashley Adamson-Edwards

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AROUND THE PAN

Lewes FC are delighted to announce the appointments of Stef McLoughlin (Commercial Manager) and Jack Towers (Communications Manager).

Stef joins as Commercial Manager having previously worked in the education industry where she was Director of Language Courses for children across the country.

She also has a strong background in operations and sales and will lead on many exciting projects for the club going forward, including sponsorship deals and working on the club shop.

Stef has a strong interest in football and following the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019 got into playing the sport recreationally, playing regularly at the Sussex County FA Women’s Rec. Festival.

Upon joining the club, Stef said: “Lewes’ stance on equality is what attracted me to the club. It’s time to change the game and I am thrilled to be a part of it!”

We also have Jack joining us as Communications Manager, following more than three years working for Sussex County FA as Marketing & Communications Officer.

Jack has a strong background in football media and will be working closely with our communications and content team in helping raise the profile of the club.

Jack had this to say following his appointment: “It is a pleasure to join such a progressive football club. During my time with Sussex FA I was well aware of the great work that Lewes have been doing over the years and it’s exciting to now be involved!”

For Commercial matters, you can contact Stef on: Stef@LewesFC.com
For Communications matters, you can contact Jack on: Jack@LewesFC.com

Lewes nominated for Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year award

We are delighted to announce that Lewes FC has been shortlisted for The Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year – Changemaker Award. The award “celebrates those who have inspired others and used their platforms to create change”.

Three of the awards, including the Changemaker Award, will go to public vote. Of course, we therefore encourage our owners and supporters to have their voices heard by voting here!

The judges recognised our internal and external work to seek to be an exemplary football club, and to reach the highest stage possible. Internally, this includes the decision to equally resource our male and female teams, becoming the first club in the world to do so. The decision was taken on the back of an AGM election that saw Lewes FC Directors elected on an equality stance. They also acknowledged our opening up of opportunities for players to be more involved in campaigning and community work, citing Bradley Pritchard’s community garden that has further connected the local town with the club.

Externally, judges recognised the work we have done to challenge the increasing saturation of football by the gambling industry, our involvement in the gambling review and supporting Gambling With Lives, a charity supporting those who have lost loved ones to gambling related suicide. They also highlighted our work towards reducing the FA Cup gender gap in prize money with the women’s FA Cup prize pot rising almost tenfold this year, and our work to deliver talks and workshops to companies and community groups.

This work was all made possible on the back of becoming fan-owned in 2010, and we are deeply grateful to the original six Directors who took the decision to take the club into community owners, as well as the more than 2300 owners who are with us to this day. If you would like to become a Lewes FC owner, please visit: www.lewesfc.com/owners.

We would finally like to recognise and acknowledge the incredible work of our co-nominees – Olympian Alice Dearing, who became the first black female swimmer for Great Britain at an Olympic Games and is a long-time campaigner on diversity and inclusivity in the swimming world; campaign group Gymnasts for Change who are working to address and remedy sexual and physical abuse in the sport; and Sandra Murphy, the first black equestrian to compete for the RAF who campaigns on diversity in the equine industry. All are worthy winners and we are delighted to stand alongside them.

And remember, you can cast your vote via the Sunday Times Sportswomen of the Year website!

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INTRODUCING OUR VISITORS – MARGATE FC

THE HISTORY

Margate Football Club was founded in 1896 as an amateur club and was originally called Margate Town, playing friendly matches on local school grounds. In the years before the First World War the club played in several different amateur leagues, with little success, and played at various grounds in the Margate area, before settling on a pitch at what would later become the Dreamland amusement park in 1912. This ground became known as the Hall-by-the-Sea Ground, taking its name from a local dance hall.

After the First World War, Margate joined the Kent League, but in 1923 the league suspended the team due to financial irregularities and the club promptly folded. A year later the club reformed, initially under the name Margate Town, and returned to the Kent League, still playing at Dreamland, but folded again due to heavy debts. In 1929 the club reformed again and moved to its present home at Hartsdown Park, leasing part of the park from the local council for conversion into a football stadium. Around this time Margate signed a Dutch player, a highly unusual move in an era when it was almost unknown for Continental players to move to English clubs. Goalkeeper Gerrit “Gerard” Keizer, who joined the Kent club from Ajax Amsterdam, later went on to play for Arsenal.

From 1934 until 1938 Margate, by now playing in the Southern League, served as the official nursery side for Arsenal. Under this arrangement the London club regularly loaned promising young players to Margate in order for them to gain match experience. Star players such as Eddie Hapgood also turned out for Margate whilst regaining match fitness after injuries. In the second season of this arrangement, 1935–36, Margate reached the third round proper of the FA Cup for the first time, losing 3–1 to Blackpool after defeating Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace in the earlier rounds, but shortly after this the club had to step back down to the Kent League for financial reasons.

After the Second World War the Gate continued to play in the Kent League under new manager Charlie Walker, who led the team to two Kent League championships but was then controversially sacked. The team slumped during a succession of rapid managerial changes which only ended in 1950 when Almer Hall was appointed manager, a post he was to hold for the next twenty years. Under Hall the team won a host of local cup honours and reached the rounds proper of the FA Cup on a number of occasions, but never managed to match this success in league competition.

In 1959–60 Margate returned to the Southern League after the Kent League folded, and in 1962–63 won the Division One championship and with it promotion to the Premier Division. Two years later the club turned full-time professional but this policy proved financially untenable when the team were relegated back to Division One in 1965–66. Nonetheless, they won promotion at the first attempt and returned to the Premier Division in 1967.

During the 1970s Margate endured severe financial problems and a series of mediocre league seasons, but took part in two famous FA Cup ties. In 1971 the Gate lost 11–0 to Bournemouth, with Ted MacDougall scoring a cup record nine goals. Then, a year later, Margate beat Swansea City and Walton & Hersham to set up a third round tie against First Division Tottenham Hotspur, then UEFA Cup holders. A record crowd of around 14,500 packed into Hartsdown Park for a match which Margate lost 6–0.

In 1996, the club’s centenary year, the club appointed Chris Kinnear as manager. In 1997–98 he took the team to the first round proper of the FA Cup where they played Fulham in a home tie that drew a crowd of 5,100. Although the Gate took the lead, the Cottagers eventually won 2–1. The following season saw the club finally win promotion to the Southern League Premier Division, albeit only after an appeal was lodged against the league’s initial refusal to allow the team promotion due to the club failing to carry out necessary ground improvements in time. The Premier Division championship followed in the 2000–01 season, and with it promotion to the Football Conference.

The 2001–02 season was Gate’s first ever season of Conference football and they finished the season in eighth place. In the 2002–03 season the team began groundsharing at Dover Athletic’s Crabble Athletic Ground while redevelopment work took place at Hartsdown Park, but various problems stalled the planned redevelopment. On the pitch, Margate enjoyed more success in the FA Cup when, after defeating Leyton Orient in the first round, they were drawn at home to Cardiff City in the second round, but lost 3–0 at Crabble. The following season, despite finishing sixteenth, the Gate were forcibly relegated one division due to the ongoing delays and problems with the redevelopment plans for Hartsdown Park.

Margate spent the 2004–05 season in the Conference South, now groundsharing at Ashford Town. Amid ongoing issues with the redevelopment work, which at one point made it seem very likely that the club would fold completely, Margate were again relegated to the Isthmian League Premier Division.

In August 2005, Margate returned to Hartsdown Park after three years in the wilderness. During an indifferent season manager Kinnear was controversially suspended. Robin Trott was placed in temporary charge as player-manager in April 2006 and, after an unbeaten five game run, was given a one-year contract at the end of the season. After Margate narrowly missed out on the play-offs in 2006–07 the club announced that Trott was to be given a new contract for the 2007–08 season. Shortly before the end of the season, however, Trott was sacked. His replacement, Barry Ashby, was himself sacked two months into the 2008–09 season. Shortly afterwards, the club narrowly avoided being subject to High Court action over unpaid debts to HM Revenue and Customs. The club finished the season in 19th position in the table and was expected to be relegated to Division One South, but was reprieved due to other clubs folding. The following season, Margate again finished in the bottom four but the club again received a reprieve from relegation.

Chris Kinnear returned for a second spell to manage the team at the start of the 2011–12 season. The following season Margate were sitting at top of the table in January, however, after much speculation Kinnear accepted the vacant manager’s position at Dover Athletic. Goalkeeper Craig Holloway was placed in temporary charge of the side, and brought in Simon Osborn as joint manager. The club dropped from the top of the table and finished outside the play-offs. After a poor start to the 2013–14 season, Holloway resigned his role as joint manager, leaving Osborn in sole charge. Results failed to improve and Osborn was sacked at the beginning of December 2013.

In the 2014–15 season, the first full season under manager Terry Brown, Margate finished in 3rd place in the Isthmian League Premier Division, ensuring the team’s qualification for the play-offs for promotion to the National League South (formerly Conference South). The play-offs were delayed by a lengthy appeal against a points deduction applied to fifth-placed Enfield Town, but when they eventually began, Margate defeated Dulwich Hamlet in the semi-finals. In the final Margate played Hendon, who had finished one place above them in the league, but a single goal from Ryan Moss gave them victory and promotion to the National League South.

Following a poor start to the 2015–16 season, Terry Brown was sacked. and replaced by Margate goalkeeper Nikki Bull and defender Jamie Stuart until the end of that season. In April 2016 Bull was appointed first team manager until the end of the 2017–18 season.

In February 2017, Steve Watt was appointed manager. Unable to help keep the club in the National League, Watt alongside management team Steve Brown and Mike Sandmann re-built the team in the Bostik League. Their first season was a strong one but the team fell just short of a play-off place. In the summer of 2018, the club parted ways with Watt. 

The Gate managed to secure the continued services of Brown and Sandmann who were announced as Joint Managers. The announcement also coincided with a historic new sponsorship deal with global band, The Libertines. 

Former player Jay Saunders was appointed to oversee proceedings until the end of the season and given the aim of ensuring The Gate retained their status in the Bostik Premier League. Assisted by Sandmann, Saunders guided Margate through a brilliant unbeaten run and impressive string of victories which led to the team finishing the season in 12th place.

In the summer, Saunders was appointed permanent Manager as the club looks ahead to an exciting 2019/20 season in the Bet Victor Isthmian League.

Since the 2017-2018 season Margate have been in the Isthmian Premier League, where under new ownership the Club have installed a state of the art 3G Pitch, plans are in place to develop the stadium further and build a hotel on site. The Club narrowly missed out on the play offs in the 2017-18 season and after the departure of manager Steve Watt the Club went through a period of transition and were able to avoid relegation in the 2018-2019 season thanks largely to the presence of Jay Saunders as temporary manager. At the start of the 2019-2020 campaign fan favourite Jay became our permanent manager and and is still at the helm for season 2021/22, after season 2020/21 was made null and void.

The 2021/22 saw Margate enjoy their most successful season in a while as they finished 8th in the Isthmian Premier Division, and reached the Velocity Trophy final for the first time in 24 years. The final ended in a 4-0 defeat to Horsham, however the Blues also reached the Quarter-final of the Kent Senior Cup, where they were beaten by eventual winners Dartford FC. At the end of the campaign, Manager Jay Saunders was approached by National League South side Tonbridge Angels, and he decided on a new chapter with them and left Margate in May 2022 to take up the position as Manager at the Longmead Stadium.

The Club moved quickly to install a new Manager as Andy Drury was appointed on the same day as Saunders departed. A former Ipswich, Luton Town and Stevenage player, Drury posseses extremely good knowledge of the game. He had spent just a handful of games in charge at Whitstable Town, however this is his first full season in Management.

THE SQUAD

Andy Drury – Manager
Reece Prestedge– Assistant Manager
George Howard – Goalkeeper Coach
Elliott Leveson – Coach

Ben Greenhalgh – Midfielder

Ben Greenhalgh joined the ‘Gate’ in the summer of 2021 to team up with his former Maidstone United manager Jay Saunders.  The 29-year-old can play as either a Midfielder or Striker and will provide extra firepower to the Blues. Greenhalgh shot to fame after winning Sky Sports reality show ‘Football’s Next Star’ where he fought off 20,000 other entries to win a six-month professional contract, which was then extended another further year upon its expiry. Despite never playing for Inter, Greenhalgh did impress whilst in Italy scoring eight goals in 12 games for Como. Back in England the 29-year-old played a crucial part in a successful Maidstone United side managed by Margate Manager Jay Saunders. Other clubs include Concord Rangers, Dartford, Tonbridge Angels and Hemel Hempstead as well as time spent in Scotland playing for Inverness and Stenhousemuir.

Sam Blackman – Midfielder

Midfielder Sam Blackman returned to Hartsdown Park in the summer of 2021 having previously played for the Blues during the 2017/18 season. The combative midfielder will provide manager Andy Drury additional experience in the middle of the park. Blackman started his career at Leatherhead before moving to Hartsdown Park in 2017. After leaving the ‘Gate, Blackman moved to Concord Rangers for the first of his two spells at the Aspect arena, where he featured as a Concord Rangers player in his second spell in the delayed 2019/20 season FA Trophy at Wembley Stadium. Other clubs include Dartford and Hythe Town.

James Bessey-Saldanha – Striker

Winger, James Bessey-Saldanha signed for The Gate having played most recently at fellow Kent side, Sevenoaks Town. The 25-year old impressed in behind-closed-doors friendlies, so much so, Jay Saunders was quick to secure his services for the 2021/22 campaign. Bessey-Saldanha was the latest player to renew his stay with the Blues in the summer of 2022 after the appointment of Andy Drury.

Lewis Knight – Defender

28-year-old Lewis Knight joined the club in the summer of 2021 from National League side Billericay Town. The commanding centre-half has enjoyed spells with East Thurrock, St Albans and Maidstone and Billericay before making the switch to Hartsdown Park.

Harrison Hatfull – Defender

The 20-year-old played for Margate in the 18/19 season before signing for Bearsted. He re-signed for the Gate in October 2021 and is now an important part of Manager Andy Drury’s plans ahead of the 2022/23 season.

Taylor Fisher – Defender

Left-back Fisher joined the ‘Gate during the summer of 2022 having won the Players, Players of the Year, Supporters Player of the Year and Manager’s Player of the Year at the club’s end of season awards night for the 2021/22 season.  22-year-old Fisher has previously played for Dartford FC as well as Sittingbourne.

Harry Hudson – Defender

21-year-old Hudson started his career in the West Ham Youth set up before signing for Watford U18’s. Hudson went on to make appearances for the Hornets U23’s side. The talented centre-half later signed for Billericay Town, before making the switch to the Tonbridge Angels where he featured 32 times in all competitions during the 2021/22 season. Hudson signed for new Manager Andy Drury in June 2022.

Peter Ojemen – Defender

The 21-year old Defender can play at Left-Back or in the Centre, and adds further versatility across Andy Drury’s new look back-line. Ojemen featured 23 times last season for Corinthian Casuals in the Isthmian Premier League as they finished 14th in the final standings. Before signing for the Casuals, Ojemen enjoyed stints at Barking FC, Fisher and Welling Town.

Troy Howard – Midfielder

20 year-old Howard impressed during the 2021/22 season at Deal Town, and Manager Andy Drury moved quickly to bring the pacey winger to Hartsdown Park this summer.  Howard is returning to familiar surroundings having been a product of Margate’s Academy, before signing for Deal Town.

Cameron Brodie – Midfielder

The Midfielder joined Andy Drury’s side on loan from National League South side Dartford FC in August 2022. The defensive midfielder has progressed through the Dartford FC Academy, and signed a contract with the Darts in the summer of 2022 under new Manager Alan Dowson. The midfielder spent the 2021/22 season on loan at Cray Wanderers where he won the Supporters Player of the Year.

Montrell Deslandes – Midfielder

Deslandes is a product of the Whitstable Academy and worked his way into their first team last season, where he worked with Drury during his short stint as the Oystermen’s Manager. The young Midfielder impressed Drury this summer whilst on trial, and was announced as a summer signing in July 2022.

Adeyinka Cole – Midfielder

The box-to-box Midfielder became Manager Andy Drury’s eighth signing of the summer. Cole featured last season for Isthmian Premier side Haringey Borough. The 27-year old has vast experience in the non-league game, with former clubs including Leiston Grays Athletic, Dulwich Hamlet, Enfield, Hemel Hempstead, Billericay and Braintree Town.

Harvey Smith – Striker

Smith scored five goals in 17 games for Corinthian last season, before ending the 2021/22 season at Ramsgate, where he only made three appearances for the Rams.Smith, also has experience of playing football at Princes Park for Dartford FC but signed for the ‘Gate in July 2022 after enjoying a brilliant trial at Hartsdown Park

Fjord Rogers – Striker

Rogers dual registered with the Blues in August 2022 after starting the season with Whitstable Town. Rogers started the 2021/22 season at Cray Wanderers, before going on to impress with both Tunbridge Wells and Whitstable.

Korrey Henry – Striker

Henry joined the Blues in September 2022 from Isthmian Premier Division side Kingstonian.

Henry netted 14 goals in the Isthmian Premier Division for Merstham, however signed for Kingstonian in the summer after the Moatsiders were relegated.

Henry started his career at West Ham United Academy, before earning a year contract in the EFL with Yeovil Town. After a month loan deal at Poole Town, Henry left Yeovil and joined National League South side Braintree Town.

Spells at Bromley, Welling and Dulwich Hamlet have followed before a spell with Leatherhead ahead of his move to Merstham.

Daniel Jinadu- Goalkeeper

Jinadu joined Margate in October 2022 on fial registration from National League side Dartford FC. The 20-year-old shot stopper spent the 2021/22 season with Barnsley where he impressed largely for the U23 side after joining from West Ham.

After departing Oakwell, Jinadu linked up with Dartford where he has played back-up to the Darts current number one Joe Young.

THE FORM

THE HEAD TO HEAD RESULTS

29th March 2022Isthmian Premier LeagueLewes2Margate 0
9th October 2021Isthmian Premier LeagueMargate2Lewes6
10th October 2020Isthmian Premier LeagueLewes1Margate0
24th August 2019Isthmian Premier LeagueMargate2Lewes0
23rd January 2019Isthmian Premier LeagueLewes0Margate0
1st September 2018Isthmian Premier LeagueMargate0Lewes1

Fun fact for you. Terry Parris scored our first EVER goal against Margate (then Thanet United) back in 1986 in a 2-0 win in the FA Cup Preliminary Round.

OUR LAST MEETING HERE – 29th MARCH 2022

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HERNE BAY 4 LEWES 1 – TUESDAY 11th OCTOBER 2022

The Rooks had a trip to the coast to forget on Tuesday night as they went down 4-1 to a resurgent Herne Bay.

Michael Klass returned to the starting line up after suspension ruled him out of the Sevenoaks Town game, whilst Rhys Murrell-Williamson was brought in to the starting XI, with Ronan Silva and Deon Moore dropping down to the bench.

The Rooks started brightly on the new 3G surface, with both Michael Klass and Joe Taylor seeing early chances handled well by Herne Bay’s keeper Jordan Perrin.  However, things went wrong for the Rooks in the 16th minute when Jack Parter cut in from the Herne Bay left and his effort took a deflection to wrong foot Lewis Carey to give the home side the lead.

Three minutes later Herne Bay had a second.  Once again, Lewis Carey was powerless to stop the effort, this time a well-executed free-kick from the edge of the area by Kieron Campbell.

Lewes were shell-shocked by the two quick goals and tried to get back into the game.  Tony Russell made a tactical change, swapping Ayo Olukoga for Bradley Pritchard in the middle of the park.  However, they soon found themselves three-nil down when Tushaun Walters showed the Rooks defence a clean set of heels and struck another shot that Carey had little chance of saving from the left-hand side of the area.

The travelling band of Rooks fans thought they had something to shout about when Joe Taylor turned in a Murrell-Williamson cross in the 35th minute, but the effort was ruled out by the officials for offside.  

With the Rooks looking towards the sanctuary of the dressing room at the end of the half, Herne Bay struck again, with Rory Smith converting a penalty after Will Salmon was adjudged to have brought down Mike West.

Rooks boss Tony Russell took off Michael Klass and replaced him with Ronan Silva for the second half.  The home side naturally were happy for the Rooks to play on the front foot, looking to counter-attack, and efforts from Razz Coleman De-Graft and Bradley Pritchard came close to giving the Rooks some consolation but keeper Perrin was rarely troubled.  

In the 62nd minute we saw an unusual incident when the referee gave an indirect free-kick against Perrin for time-wasting in his area, although the resultant free-kick was blocked by the Herne Bay wall.

In the 82nd minute Silvas was impeded as he ran into the box, and the referee gave the Rooks a penalty, which Joe Taylor calmly dispatched.  

Lewes: Carey, Elva-Fountain, Mascoll, Champion, Salmon, Klass (Silva 46 mins), Young, Olukoga (Pritchard 20 mins), Murrell-Williamson (Moore 65 mins), Coleman De-Graft, Taylor

Subs not used: Nelson, Renee

Booked: Elva-Fountain, Pritchard

Attendance: 352 (14 travelling Rooks)

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STATS DON’T LIE…OR DO THEY?

“Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.”
Except it isn’t. Technology has led to a whole new world of analysis of the game, with experts looking for trends and actionable intelligence in the data. We now live in a world where assists are measured and are somehow counted as “semi-goals”, as well as the bizarre comparison stat of xG, or expected goals, which is the probability that a shot will result in a goal based on the characteristics of that shot and the events leading up to it. “We may have lost but our xG was more than yours”..Think I’m making it up? Go onto some of the Premier League forums and chat sites after their games and you’ll find a whole new, literal, ball game.

We are a big user of technology. You may have seen the strange green pancake sitting on top of a 12ft pole around the dugouts home and away – that’s a VEO camera that tracks the ball automatically – it works very well, although I have seen instances where the camera has taken more of a likening to a bald-headed linesman than the ball in play. We combine this footage with data captured from a small tracking device each player wears under their shirt.

The result is a complex picture of what happened in the 90 minutes aside from the result. We all known and understand that football is a results business – unfortunately, it is that final score which is the only historical record of what happened.

But for management teams it is just as important to understand what happens at the surface level. Coaches can pick up trends, fitness issues and loss of form from these stats, and act accordingly to address issues.

Take the highlight stats from our 4-1 defeat at Herne Bay. At half-time we were 4-0 down and quite understandably, our management team were far from happy and made changes accordingly. The second half saw us keep a clean sheet and nick a goal at the other end, but did the 4-1 score line reflect what actually happened during the game? No.

Nearly 61% of possession may suggest we did a good job stopping Herne Bay scoring more, but combine that with more shots, more crosses, more moves into the final third and winning more aerial balls and the result is even more of a surprise. The one for me is the ball regains – where we had lost the ball but won it back within 30 seconds. In that area we regained the ball on 41 occasions, whilst when Herne Bay lost it they didn’t regain it once during the ninety minutes.

We all know and accept we were well beaten, but a lot of the underlying stats tell a different story. When managers occasionally come out and say they dominated a game, perhaps you can now see why.

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THE 2022 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING & NEW DIRECTOR ELECTION

The Annual General Meeting of Lewes Community Football Club will take place on Monday 24th October at 7.30pm UK time.

The AGM will take place online: access details for all Owners will follow nearer the date. Following the success of holding last year’s AGM event wholly online, we will do so again as it’s the best method to ensuring equal opportunity to all Owners to raise any questions/concerns.

Board Elections

The Club currently has eight elected directors. Of those, Karen Dobres has come to the end of her three-year term and has not chosen to stand again. The Club is looking to fill three director positions in total at this election, which will bring us back up to ten elected directors.

As of midnight on Friday 14th October, seven applications were received for election to the Board of Directors, meaning there will be an election prior to the AGM. An online hustings was held on the evening of Thursday 20th October at 7.30pm UK time.  The candidates statements can be found by clicking on their individual names below:

Willa Bailey

Matthew Barrett

Tim Bradshaw

Andy Gowland

Eden Shepherd

Bradley Spiby

Ian Wigston

Voting is now open for owners and will end at 12 noon on the day of the AGM. Each owner can vote for up to three candidates. The three candidates receiving the most votes will be elected to the Board. All appointments to the Board are subject to passing the FA’s Owners & Directors Test and adherence to the Club’s Election Policy.

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ON THIS DAY QUIZ – SATURDAY 22nd OCTOBER 2022

Results

#1. On this day in 2011, Man City's Mario Balotelli hit the headlines for....

#2. On this day in 1994, Nottingham Forest beat Villa to go 2nd in the table. But who was top?

#3. On this day in 2013, The Rooks beat Enfield Town 3-1. Which centre-back scored twice for the Rooks?

#4. On this day in 2016, Lewes beat Cray Wanderers 5-2 here at the Pan. Who scored a hattrick for the Rooks?

#5. That game against Cray Wanderers featured a current Rooks squad member. Who was it?

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UNDER18s UPDATE

Our Under18s are in the FA Youth Cup First Round Proper for the fifth time in six seasons after beating Hastings United last week. So far the young Rooks have seen off Whitehawk (3-0), Bognor Regis Town (6-0), Peacehaven & Telscombe (5-1) before the victory over Hastings United. The team now face a trip to South-West London where they will play AFC Wimbledon before the 5th November. AFC Wimbledon signed Alfie Bendle, who is a regular in their first team squad from Lewes’ Under18s squad at the start of the 2021/22 season and he is still eligible for the competition and could feature in the game.

The team are still yet to play in the Isthmian League South this season, with all three fixtures so far falling foul to the weather – Thursday’s seem to be an unlucky day for the rain this season! Our first game is due to take place on Thursday 27th October against Three Bridges at The Pan but that may need to be moved as, aside from the Rooks progress in the FA Youth Cup, Three Bridges have also made it to that round and will face Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

The Rooks centre-forward Harry Bridle has started the season in scintillating form, scoring 7 goals in the 4 games so far. Bridle, accompanied by fellow Rooks Hummerston and Agnihotri recently attended the National England Schools Under18s trials. We wish them all the best in the selection process for England Schools U18s – hopefully following in the footsteps of others who have represented Lewes on the national stage.

Unfortunately, our Isthmian League Cup game at East Grinstead Town on Thursday night was abandoned after an injury sustained to the home side’s keeper. We await a decision from the league as to whether the game will be replayed. In the meantime, we wish the keeper a speedy recovery.

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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 CarlseMichael McDowellRonan Silva
Marcel Elva-FountaineRhys Murrell-WilliamsonTrevor Norwood
Kenny YaoDeshane Dalling
Tom ChampionTom, Alice & Russ MouldRazz Coleman De-GraftThe Ouse
Will SalmonDeon Moore
Mitchell NelsonBilly BeauzileJoe TaylorStuart Fuller
Ayo OlukogaTyrique Hyde
Bradley PritchardFinley Jenkins
Alfie YoungJamie Mascoll
Michael KlassJohnville Renee
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TODAY’S COLLECTION – BRADLEY’S HOMEWORK CLUB

At today’s match we’ll be collecting for a cause championed and run by our own midfielder Bradley Pritchard. We’ll have collection boxes as you come through the turnstiles. But not only that, our men’s physio Toni is offering massage treatments from 11.45am in the Physio Room opposite the beach huts before the match, in return for donations to the cause. Here’s what Bradley said,

“I run an Afterschool Homework Club for local children within Lewisham. We offer:

  • academic support
  • food
  • emotional well-being and mental health support
  • sport and physical health activities
  • a fun and safe environment

And the most important thing about our provision for local families is that it is free for all children attending.

The Grove Park Youth Club is situated in the Chinbrook area of Grove Park Ward, Lewisham and is an area identified as having high indices of multiple deprivation. This means we have children who have faced and continue to face a litany of adverse childhood experiences, let alone financial insecurity. Attending our Homework Club is the positive environment which gives them the solace they want and need.

We have dreams to do and be more for our local community; like offering holiday camps, day and residential trips! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves… at this present time, it is vital for us to make our provision sustainable and long lasting, after all, as the children’s dependence on our provision grows, we need to ensure we are there for them.

We hope you feel supporting us would be a worthy cause. All donations go towards the costs of the rental space, food for the children, resources and equipment and staffing. Anything after that would go towards external trips and maybe even more water fights :)”

And this is the Just Giving page if you are so inclined.

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ON THIS DAY IN FOOTBALLING HISTORY – 22nd OCTOBER

Results

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THE FIFA RANKINGS UPSIDE DOWN – No.209 – BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

There are three sets of Virgin Islands located in the Caribbean, but only one set belongs to Britain. And they happen to be the home of the third worst international team in the world, although the US Virgin Islands sit one place above them. As for the Spanish Virgin Islands, well they are yet to kick a ball in International footballing anger.

The current side are managed by former Ipswich Town and Arsenal striker Chris Kiwomya. There’s a few English-based players in his squad, with a real South-West coast theme. Five players are from Poole Town, including top scorer Tyler Forbes, plus a couple from Dorchester Town and Bridgewater United. The majority of the rest of the squad play for local teams such as Virgin Gouda United, Old Madrid, One Love United and current BVIFA National Football League champions, Sugar Boys.

British Virgin Islands have won 14 and drawn 17 of their 83 international games, their most famous being a 2-0 against Bermuda in the 2005 Caribbean Cup, whilst the have twice played against United States, in the 1994 Caribbean Cup, losing 12-0 and 5-0. However, their record defeat came in 2010 against Dominican Republic where the final score was 17-0.

Their biggest rivalry is with US Virgin Islands, who they have faced seven times and have won three times and drawn twice. They have also drawn twice with Cayman Islands in the 2022 Caribbean Nations League.

Once a hotbed of pirate life, today the islands provide safe haven for cruise ships and celebrities, including Premier League footballers. Alas, none stay long enough to gain qualification to play for the island team.

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DIDN’T WE USED TO PLAY THEM? LEYTON FC

Sitting comfortably? Then I will begin. This is the tale of a team called Leyton, that used to play at Brisbane Road. Today, another team, completely unrelated to that first side, calls Brisbane Road (or the Matchroom Stadium) home. But the real drama happened a mile to the north, and involved some dubious financial comings and goings as well as story lines that wouldn’t look out of place in Eastenders.

Leyton FC were formed back in 1868, the second oldest football club in London, only being pipped to be the oldest by our good friends at Cray Wanderers. They bounced around the Athenian Leagues for many years, winning back to back championships in the mid-1960.

In 1975, the club merged with Wingate F.C. to become Leyton-Wingate F.C. until 1992 when the two clubs parted company and the name reverted to Leyton. In 1995 the club merged with Walthamstow Pennant and moved away from Leyton Stadium to become Leyton Pennant F.C., who are now known as Walthamstow.

A new Leyton Football Club was established in 1997, and following a High Court case in 2002, won the right to be recognised as a continuation of the original club, which led to an odd period of a couple of seasons with both Leyton and Leyton Pennant both playing in the Isthmian League.

We first met Leyton back in 1992/93 when the Isthmian League was known as the Gola League. The Rooks finished second from bottom in the First Division and were relegated along with Aveley, whilst Leyton finished in 13th spot. It would be another 13 years before the two met again, in what turned out to be the last ever meeting between the two clubs, with the Rooks winning 1-0 at The Hare & The Hounds Stadium in the FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round. Four years later the club was no more.

In 2005 they narrowly missed the opportunity to join Lewes in the Conference South, losing to Eastleigh in the Isthmian League Play-offs. It turned out to the the final highlight for the club. Rumours of money issues were never far from the turnstiles and in October 2009, following an investigation by HMRC, chairman Costas Sophocleous and former director Philip Foster pleaded guilty to their parts in a £16 million VAT fraud, both receiving long custodian sentences.

The club never fully recovered and were expelled from the Isthmian League in January 2011 for failing to address league business (not paying their dues in other words) and within a few weeks the club was no more.

Today, you can still find evidence of a football ground on the Lea Bridge Road, just behind the Hare and Hounds pub. As for the name, well Leyton still exists down the road in the form of Leyton Orient, nothing more, nothing less.

You can read a fascinating history of Leyton FC here.

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ENFIELD TOWN 2 LEWES 4 – 15th OCTOBER 2022

Lewes bounced back to winning ways with an emphatic victory at high-flying Enfield Town.

Boss Tony Russell kept faith with the majority of the side that went down 4-1 at Herne Bay on Tuesday, with Deon Moore replacing the injured Rhys Murrell-Williamson and Bradley Pritchard starting instead of the benched Ayo Olukoga.

The Rooks were almost ahead within the first minute when Razz Coleman De-Graft curled an effort just over the bar from the edge of the box.  The nerves and uncertainly from Tuesday night were nowhere to be seen as Lewes dominated the open exchanges and it was no surprise when they took the lead in the 7th minute.

Michael Klass won the ball back in midfield, battled through a couple of challenges before feeding Razz on the right-hand side.  The wide-man went outside his man, drilled the ball across the six-yard box, narrowly missing Joe Taylor.  But Deon Moore was at the far post, took a touch to beat his man and smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

It was all Lewes in the opening quarter, with the midfield five running the show.  It wasn’t until the 30th minute before the home side really had a chance, with Jake Cass breaking free but finding Lewis Carey rather than the open goal. 

In the 35th minute an Enfield defender stopped Joe Taylor’s progress towards goal, with a good shout for denying a goal scoring opportunity.  However, Lewes got their just desserts from the resulting free-kick, beautifully bent around the wall by Jamie Mascoll and into the corner of the net.

A minute before the break, after a spell of Enfield Town pressure, Lewes took a quick corner.  It appeared the danger had passed as the ball was worked back towards their own goal, with most players getting a touch.  In almost a carbon copy to the goal scored here last season, the possession was retained for around 2 minutes, with over 40 consecutive passes before Marcel Elva-Fountaine was teed up 20 yards out and his low shot beat McDonald, albeit with a slight deflection.  If ever you needed an example of how Lewes can and want to play, this goal was it.

The Enfield Town fans let their team and bench know just how they felt as the teams went off at the break.  Lewes came out the blocks strong again at the start of the second half and had a fourth when Coleman De-Graft tried to cut inside, but a defender got a toe to the ball.  However, it just rebounded to Razz who curled the ball around the defender and keeper into the corner of the net.

There was no way back for Enfield.  A goal by Jake Cass, superbly headed in from a deep cross in the 57th minute, then centre-back James Richmond rose the highest to head in a corner to bring the score back to 4-2 but the Lewes defence weathered the storm.  A chorus of dissent from the fans behind the goal greeted three changes made by the Enfield management team in the 74th minute. 

Enfield had their chances.  Youngs was presented with a golden opportunity when Carey passed the ball direct to him on the edge of the box but his shot was weak and smothered by the Lewes keeper. 

The Rooks still looked dangerous on the break.  In the 90th minute Razz broke after Enfield had a corner cleared and he looked to play in Ayo Olukoga who had sprinted the length of the pitch but he was inches away from connecting.

The final whistle was greeted with jubilation from the Rooks fans.  This was a performance that had been bubbling under the surface for a few weeks and showed how devastating they can be when things click.  The second half Enfield bombardment had been a real test for Carey, Salmon and Champion, which they handled well.

Next up for the Rooks is a return to The Dripping Pan for the visit of Aveley on Tuesday night (18th October), kick off 7:45pm.

Enfield Town: McDonald, Spencer, Payne, Thomas, Wilson-Braithwaite, Richmond, Sayoud (Coker 74 mins), Youngs, Cass (75 mins), Dayton (Wyllie 74 mins), Della-Verde

Subs not used: Hercules, Urquhart

Booked: Della-Verde, Dayton

Lewes: Carey, Elva-Fountaine, Mascoll, Champion, Salmon, Young, Pritchard (Olukoga 79 mins), Klass (Nelson 90 mins), Coleman De-Graft, Moore, Taylor

Subs not used: Renee, Skinner, Silva

Booked: Klass, Salmon

Attendance: 434 (approx. 35 travelling Rooks)

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TALES FROM THE FOOTBALL TOURIST – D-LISTERS

A weekend away in Italy wouldn’t be the same without some calcio at some point. Yes, there’s the beautiful scenery, the stunning architecture, the amazing food and the followers of fashion, but you can get that all in Solihull, right? What really makes a proper trip is going to some football.

Italy is up there with the best for watching the beautiful game. Whilst most of the stadiums are ageing, and in some cases, decaying, they are icons. In his lesser known TV series, World Shut Your Mouth, Dom Joly travelled to the Seven Wonders of the World, standing next to tourists marvelling at the historic sites and simply uttered, “It’s a bit shit, isn’t it?”. In the case of the San Siro, Stadio Olimpico or the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, it isn’t the outside view that people come to see, it is the passionate, often dark, heart beating inside.

New stadiums are rare in Italy. Many of them aren’t owned by the clubs, but the local governments who invested once and won’t invest again. Prior to the 1990 FIFA World Cup, two new stadiums (in Turin and Bari) were built, whilst the likes of the Stadio Luigi Ferraris (home of Genoa and Sampdoria), Stadio Sant’Elia in Cagliari and Verona’s Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi had extensive redevelopments. Thirty years later and the Stadio delle Alpi in Turin has been completely rebuilt, Bari’s San Nicola has needed significant work, whilst the Stadio Sant’Elia has been abandoned, with Cagliari playing in a smaller stadium next door. Other notable stadiums such as the Pier Luigi Penzo in Venice is basic to say the least and was the smallest Serie A stadium last season.

Italians are known for their style and passion – their stadiums certainly aren’t stylish (OK, perhaps Bologna and Genoa excepted), but the passion flows through the game at whatever level you watch.

The latest weekend away wasn’t to anywhere that could be called a hot-bed of Italian football. Basilicata is one of the few regions in Italy that can’t boast a football team playing in the top two levels. In fact, it only has two (Potenza and Picerno) in the top three tiers. But go down into the roots of calcio and you’ll find clubs littered across the “instep” of Italy. Whilst Bari is the international gateway to the region, it was 30 miles inland I was heading, to the stunning town of Matera, made famous in the opening scenes of the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die.

The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was a European Capital of Culture in 2019. Buildings hewn into the rock face of the steep sides of a gorge give the town a pre-historic feel but there was nothing ancient about the cost of the hotels. The trip was booked long before the fixtures were released, with the hope that Bari would be at hope, a short drive from Karol Wojtyła Airport (Pope John Paul II to you and I) to the San Nicola, now repainted, rebuilt and ready for Serie B football. Alas, the fixture gods had other ideas, sending the Galletti north to Venice. But wait….Matera had a club and after lots of legal wrangling (common place in Italian football), they had a home game scheduled for the day we arrived in town.

A plan was hatched. Fly in, pick up car, drive to Matera, find parking space outside Matera (no cars allowed in apart from James Bond’s Aston Martin Vanquish), drop bags in expensive hotel, walk 20 minutes to the Stadio XXI Settembre-Franco Salerno, watch USD Matera Grumentum vs FBC Gravina, then back in time for pasta for tea.

We all know how the best laid plans never work. So, the week before the game, someone, somewhere decided to move just one fixture in Serie D, Group H from Sunday at 3pm, to Saturday at 3pm. Can you guess which one? Yep, the one in Matera.

“We must find another game to go to – after all we are travelling all that way and it would be a shame not to see a match somewhere new” is not something that the Current Mrs Fuller said. I’m sure she thought something like that and was probably just about to say it, when I told her not to worry because there was a Plan B.

And so, an hour after flying into Bari we were handing over our €11 to the “Hospitality Man/Woman” as it said on the website at the Campo Comunale Tonino d’Angelo in the town of Altamura, fifteen miles north of Matera for their Serie D game against SSD Casarano. A happy ending for all involved.

Altamura is a name any Paleontologist would be familiar with and let’s face it, we all love a bit of Jurassic Park don’t we? Back in the 1990’s not only did the locals find a 130,000 year old calcified man in a cave here, but 30,000 dinosaur footprints nearby. Surely an episode of Cold Cases in the making there? Altamura isn’t a name that most football fans would be familiar with though. In fact, I couldn’t find any history of the club, or amusing anecdotes to share with you. In the digital age we live in, it takes some beating not to find any Wikipedia page of a club, but I had to admit defeat.

A question I’m often asked about Lewes is if we suddenly found ourselves transported to Italy, at what level could or would we be comfortable playing at? In terms of a league structure, Italy has a 20 team top tier (Serie A), 20 teams in Serie B, then three interregional divisions of 20 sides at step 3. Below this is considered the Non-professional levels, which are top with 9 regional leagues with 18-20 sides, giving a total of around 260 sides…compared to England, we have 252 up to Step 3, where Lewes play. So, as a direct level comparison, Serie D would be the same as Isthmian Premier League. Now, what does that mean in terms ability? Well, read on….

The questions were the same as if back in England and going to a new ground – “just how close can I park to the ground?”. I couldn’t find any stats to show how well supported Altamura were, although a picture of the Main Stand from their final home game last season suggested it could be a few thousand on a good day. With the floodlights in sight and Now That’s What I Call The Nineties blaring from the PA system, we found a parking space no more than a minute’s walk from the ground. So either, everyone had walked here or there was nobody here.

Well, it turned out to be a bit of both. It wasn’t a 3pm kick off, rather 3.30pm and most of the fans, hard to miss in their black Ultra Altamura t-shirts were in the bars across the road from the ground. A bit like the Lewes Lunatic Fringe, but 40 years younger and didn’t have their home-made sandwiches in their pockets.

Tickets were €11 but only for Men. Women got in free. The Current Mrs Fuller was slightly aggrieved by that, as if it was a suggestion because Women didn’t know about football, they wouldn’t understand it and thus should’ve pay. In fact she was aggrieved because we’d agreed that I would pay for the tickets and she’d buy the beer.

The ground was once an athletics stadium. It could have still been one at a push – the pitch certainly showed signs of “field” activity. There was one large covered stand, where fans could sit on the concrete steps if they wanted. The middle section, known as the VIP Lounge, had some bucket seats bolted to the steps and was patrolled by “VIP security”. However, if you climbed the steps to the “normal” sections either side you could climb over the railings and go in, as most youngsters did.

Opposite the main stand was a terrace, caged in on all sides, for those troublesome away fans. Whilst the football on show was most definitely at the same, if not slightly below Step 3 in England, the away support would have put some League One clubs to shame. Casarano was a good three hour drive/six hours on a train from Altamura but there were a couple of hundred of their fans who had made the journey. Whilst the two sets of ultras were furiously supporting their own sides, there was a moment of respect in the opening minutes of the game from the home fans to their rivals, breaking into applause as Casarano’s fans broke into song.

A visit to Altamura wouldn’t be a favourite for any UK groundhoppers. There’s no programmes, no team sheets, no pin badges – unless you want a culinary experience of a bag of crisps and a non-alcoholic warm beer then you will be bitterly disappointed. There was no discernible features, no opportunity to “get up close and personal”.

We went to the top of the steps as the ultras started filling up the area below us. There would be no sitting down for this one. Whilst we were on the fringe of the action, we were close enough to jump around to Yellow Submarine/Just Can’t Get Enough (I’d never noticed how similar the melodies were before). The flags were waiving, the ultras were fist-pumping and the team, well, they were….average.

So to answer the first question posed – what standard is Serie D compared to football in England? After I saw the 6ft 3in Altamura left-back hoof the ball into the car park rather than controlling it I would say, without any disrespect meant, this was a Step 5 player. Big ginge, as we called him for obvious reasons, wasn’t alone in his inability to play the ball to another player in the same shirt. Add in a referee who wasn’t happy unless he’d given a free-kick less than 60 seconds from the last and you can imagine this wasn’t a game for the purest. In fact, it wasn’t a game for anyone who wanted to watch a game!

Casarano were no better than the home side but took the lead on a swift counter-attack down the left-hand side in the 30th minute, with Argentinian striker Pablo Burzio heading home. They doubled their lead in the 70th minute when veteran defender (another red-head) Ferdinando Vitofrancesco rose above the home defence and powered home. Having only scored 14 goals in his 15 year career in Italian football before this game, he scored a second in injury time to put a gloss on Casarano’s win. But come the 93rd minute, the Altamura’s ultras were still singing, still waving their flags and having the time of their lives.

So, in summary. Bring either of these sides over to the Isthmian Premier League and they would struggle. But bring their fans over and they would put clubs in the Football League to shame in terms of their fanatical support. Eleven euros for the two of us to spend a couple of hours bouncing around in the Italian sun? Sign me up for a season ticket.

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STODGEBUSTERS GO BAY-WATCHING AT HERNE BAY

Herne Bay away. Not the best place to travel midweek. We would have much preferred it to be on the original scheduled Saturday when we could have gone on the train and had a stroll on the pier, some fish and chips, some hot sugared ring donuts and a go on some amusements. By the way, there’s no truth in the rumour that some of us are old enough to remember What The Butler Saw. Only two Stodgebusters, PJ and Steve, were up for this trip to deepest Kent although Treasurer Al joined us at the 11th hour, probably to get out of doing something else at home.

Steve picked up PJ in Lewes and found Alan waiting at the side of the road in Five Ash Down. It was a pretty uneventful journey to Herne Bay and we rocked up at the car park with about 30 minutes to spare.

OK, it was time to try out the in-ground catering. Alan and Steve both went for a cheeseburger and chips and gave them a “just OK” score of 6. PJ made do with a tray of chips for £2. To be fair they weren’t bad. They weren’t in the Bankers class of course but for footie ground chips they were quite passable and he gave them a creditable 8 on the Stodge-o-Meter.

We fancied a win. Herne Bay were second bottom after all. How wrong could we be tonight? The answer was VERY. We started quite brightly and for the first ten minutes we were on top and making chances. 30 minutes later we were all looking at each other in disbelief, muttering words like “damn” and “blast” (or words to that effect) as we found ourselves four down just before half time. I won’t go into any deep match analysis but suffice to say our defence couldn’t handle the pacy attacks. There were spaces large enough to build a small IKEA for the home wide men and they used them to full advantage. The defence looked as stretched as a Stodgebuster’s boxer shorts elastic every time they came forward, and every attack looked like another goal was coming.

Two goals were the result of fast surging runs with the ball, not being stopped by the defence, and the ball being fired past Carey. Two more of these runs were stopped but illegally resulting in a free kick being fired over the wall into the top corner and a penalty which was dispatched. But for the woodwork and Carey making some saves it could have been a lot worse. What is going on? 42 minutes in and 4-0 down? It was a carbon copy of that atrocious Three Bridges game. It wasn’t even half time and PJ half jokingly suggested that maybe we should leave at that moment as he didn’t fancy seeing us concede a possible 8 and hearing any more of “Can We Play You Every Week” and other Mickey taking chants from the other end. The others rightly didn’t agree, Steve especially. He left the ground at 0-4 in that legendary Redbridge game at the Pan many years ago. We often remind him how we eventually won 5-4.

We endured most of the second half. Lewes were playing better but never really looked like getting back into it. We had as much chance of emulating that Redbridge result as PJ has of being nominated for the Pullitzer Prize. Our slow build-up play was defended really well and anything of promise was snuffed out. We started to walk disconsolately towards the exit with about 10 minutes to go to avoid the car park queue and in doing so completely missed the incident that gave us a penalty for which we paused and watched Joe put away.

We must have been a couple miles down the road when the final whistle blew and we took consolation that we had won the second half 1-0. It was a pretty sombre journey home with us giving our opinions to each other on what has gone so wrong with our team and what should be done. After all, we are all experts and managerial geniuses aren’t we? It’s still early days of course but we didn’t think we would be looking at the relegation zone at all this season. We have very good players but there’s something not right when you concede goals like we have and once again not score from open play. But keep the faith. We have every confidence that Tony and his team will sort it out. But please do it soon. We don’t want any more days or evenings like this.

The Stodgebusters will return at Enfield. Or at least PJ will.

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THE ISTHMIAN PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON 2022/23

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THE ISTHMIAN LEAGUE COMMERCIAL PARTNERS

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TODAY’S TEAMS

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THE STODGEBUSTERS GO TO TOWN AT ENFIELD

The four Stodgebusters who ventured to Enfield Town have over 200 years experience of watching football between them and still don’t understand this game sometimes. How we get taken to the cleaners by near-bottom Herne Bay and then four days later we do the same to third place Enfield Town is beyond us. To confound us even more Herne Bay was on a brand new 3G pitch whereas Enfield was on a pitch where the grass was so long their Flymo must have broken down. As Greavsie used to say “It’s a funny old game”.

Steve, Gary and PJ met up at Lewes station for the 10.27 London Bridge service and then went in search of Roly who had  messaged to say he was in coach three. Maths can’t be one of his strong points as we couldn’t find him in coach three because he was in coach four. Finally united we settled down for the journey and tucked into the packet of Starburst which Gary had generously provided. They were even still in date. It’s fair to say we weren’t overly confident about this game. Steve and PJ were still mentally scarred after witnessing the Herne Bay match and none of us predicted a Lewes win. Roly was most optimistic going for a one all draw. Enfield is known for the Enfield Small Arms Factory famous for making the Enfield Rifle and we hoped the football team would be firing a lot of blanks. London Bridge was reached without incident. Then a change to the Northern Line for one stop to Bank. Another change to the Central Line for one stop to Liverpool Street. A couple of the lads spent ten minutes looking for the gents, (it’s an age thing) then it was Overground to Enfield Town. It was still only just gone 1pm when we exited Enfield Town looking for our Stodge supplier of the day. Good news. The Buffalo cafe was still open and hadn’t fallen victim to the covid epidemic which saw off a lot of good eating places.

The Buffalo is Stodgebuster heaven with all of our favourite pre match meals. What to choose? It was noticeable that the meals were still very reasonably priced. A lot of places we go to the prices have rocketed up this past year or so. We don’t mind paying as long as the food is good and the Buffalo certainly didn’t disappoint. Two omellettes with chips and beans, a full English, a ham, eggs and chips, with teas all round, plus an extra couple of cups all came to forty quid with a tip. Excellent.

It’s about a twenty minute walk to the ground. Some roads are named after towns and cities in South Africa which are associated with the Boer Wars. It brought back memories of those history lessons at school and of Corporal Jones. Ladysmith Road is quite lengthy and we were quite relieved to see the end of it. (See what I did there?) It was a good way to walk off the few thousand calories we had just taken on.

We quite like Enfields ground. It’s got the dreaded athletics track but they let fans cross it to get close up behind the goal. There’s good cover too if the heavens open. They have a decent sized club shop and Gary was chuffed as he was able to get some more stock for his badge stall including some rather rare ones. Who are/were Hooe Sports FC? PJ purchased four KitKats for the lads for half time. HA! As if they were going to last until then!

Enfield had ex-Rook Juevan Spencer playing for them. He looked useful at Lewes and we were sad to see him go.

Lewes started brightly and were immediately on top. We weren’t going to get too excited because we started like this at Herne Bay. But after seven minutes some lovely football out on the right saw a low cross come in. It was missed by everyone but found Deon Moore beyond the far post who took a touch and crashed it into the roof of the net. Woo Hoo!!!

We continued to press and won a free kick just outside the box. Mascoll curled it around the wall and into the bottom corner just a fag papers thickness inside the post. This was great stuff. Lewes hadn’t finished either. At the end of an apparently 40+ pass move (we weren’t counting) Elva-Fountaine found himself in possession on the edge of the box. His shot wasn’t the most powerful but it took a slight deflection, the keeper got a touch too but it ended up in the net in just about the same place the free kick had. This was getting even better!

Three up at half time with the home support booing their own team off the pitch.

We were expecting an all out onslaught in the second half. But Razz quickly made it four with a lovely shot into the far corner after some trademark trickery.

The old Achilles heel did show itself to make us a little nervous. A couple of free headers, one from a corner, pulled a couple of goals back and we were thinking once again of that Redbridge game. Enfield couldn’t win 5-4 could they? They had other chances too such as when a Carey howler saw him pass the ball straight to an opposition player on the edge of the box. Luckily he fired a blank as his shot was more akin to a back pass and we got away with it. Lewes had further chances though and really should have made it five near the end.

4-2. That’ll do, with Razz adjudged as our Man of the Match.

There was a nice gesture by the players and staff after the final whistle when they came over to our end and gave all the fans a high five or fist pump. Thanks guys. We really appreciate moments like that and makes us feel more involved. Well played boys. You put the smile back on our faces.

Spare a thought for fellow Stodgebuster Treasurer Al. He had endured the Herne Bay catastrophe but had to miss this extravaganza. He enjoyed the messaging though.

Much relieved we strode back down Ladysmith Road to the station.

The trip home was faultless and we gleefully discussed the game. Bring on Aveley on Tuesday. A couple more wins should lift us right up the table.

The Stodgebusters will return at Chesham for the next round of the Trophy.

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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 AT THE DRIPPING PAN

HORNCHURCH FC

TUESDAY 25th OCTOBER 2022 7:45pm

THE ISTHMIAN PREMIER LEAGUE

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

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TODAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS

  1. Setting fire to his bathroom, causing £400,000 worth of damage due to fireworks
  2. Newcastle United
  3. Ben Austin
  4. Jamie Brotherton
  5. Ben Mundale