Saturday 26th November 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 Bowers & Pitsea. Here is your complimentary e-programme.

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Good afternoon everyone and welcome back to the Dripping Pan for this afternoon’s Isthmian Premier League game against Bowers & Pitsea. I’d like to welcome our visitors from Essex and hope they have had a smooth journey here.

It has been another quiet week or so here at the Pan – a penalty defeat here last Saturday against Bognor Regis Town, an injury time defeat at Potters Bar and then the issue with the Sussex Senior Cup game.

So…last Saturday. It was disappointing that we hadn’t put the game to bed in the first half, having taken an early lead. I don’t think there was anyone in the ground, bar the referee, who saw an offence which led to Bognor’s penalty – in fact, if anything it should have been a foul on Will. But it is what it is and we had the chance to win it during the penalty shoot-out. Our missed penalties weren’t the best, but let’s not take anything away from the Bognor keeper, who is just 17 years old, who was superb in 90 minutes and was in the right place, at the right time to see Bognor go through.

On Tuesday night we took a patched up side to league-leaders Potters Bar Town. We played well in the first half, with a brace from Joe, including a superbly executed indirect free-kick. Potters Bar scored right at the end of the half which dented our confidence slightly. However, TQ scored an excellent team goal to give us a two goal advantage again and we could/should have scored more – Raz hit the post and Jack put a great chance into the side netting.

All was going well until the last ten minutes when we began to tire. We had Ayo and Jack in the middle of the park who hadn’t got 90 minutes under their belts this season and Potters Bar started to take advantage of that. The equaliser was a superb effort, a volley from an acute angle although there was plenty of question marks over the corner it resulted from. And then the sucker punch, in the 95th minute, when we simply didn’t close the game down well enough. It was gutting to go behind for the first time with almost the last kick of the game.

It was our first defeat in the league in eight and I know that those last ten minutes will be etched on our minds for awhile but we need to move on and learn from the mistakes. The good news is that we are scoring goals – Joe has now got 17 goals, Razz has 8. What we need is getting more players in areas of the pitch where they can score. At the other end of the pitch I still believe we have one of the best defensive lines in the league.

Finally, we have the issue of the Sussex Senior Cup. It was incredibly disappointing to be put in a position by the Sussex FA on the rearranged game with Worthing. The insistence that the game had to be moved away from The Pan because of “concerns on our pitch” was inexplicable, especially when Worthing have themselves had to cancel a game this season due to issues with the ground. Then to be told that they couldn’t host the game due to a pre-arranged event at their ground on the Tuesday, the day that both clubs play midweek games on, was poor form. It wasn’t a decision we took lightly and I know there will be some fans who will be disappointed that we will not be in the competition this season.

Get behind the boys and Come on you Rooks!


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Last Saturday’s FA Trophy tie against Bognor Regis Town was a good one for the neutrals – we took an early two goal lead thanks to Razz’s excellent finish and one from Joe which was the result of the high press we work on in training. I thought we would kick on and put the game to bed but somewhat out of the blue they pulled one back.

We certainly finished the half strongly with the keeper making a great save from JT from close range – I’ve watched it back and it’s certainly not a bad miss but a superb save from the young keeper. That was a big moment in the game.

We came out for the second half a little bit sluggish and they tried to set a trap for us, which to be honest I felt would allow us to hurt them more. They didn’t really trouble us until the big moment in the game when Will Salmon was adjudged to have fouled their guy in the box. The Bognor player actually kicks Will then goes down so quite how anyone could see that as a penalty I don’t know.

We regrouped again and we tried to win it. Razz had a good chance saved and Ayo makes a thundering from and through midfield but again, the keeper was there to keep the ball out.

We were disappointed not to have won it in 90 minutes to be honest – I felt we had done enough but their keeper didn’t brilliantly and they progress at our expense. We naturally wish them the best of luck in the next round against Banbury United and look forward to meeting them again just after Christmas.

I felt the other turning point was losing Tyrique in the first half – he had been having a fantastic game up until he pulled up. His driving runs and passing accuracy were there for all to see. We also lost Jamie Mascoll for Tuesday night as a result of the game, due to a back injury.

Tuesday night on paper, away to the league leaders, was perhaps our toughest game of the season. But I thought we were outstanding. We started so well – Ayo setting up JT for the first, then Joe goes clean through but unlike him, pulls the ball wide. He makes up for it with his strike from the indirect free-kick.

Then there’s a moment that we feel would have put the game beyond reach. A long ball over the top for JT to run onto but the keeper gets there first but in the process he handles outside the area then steps back into his area. Everyone can see it, apart from the officials. That’s a huge moment because they didn’t have a sub keeper on the bench. Instead a few minutes later they pull one back.

We walk in at half-time slightly disappointed but my message to the boys was be calm as I didn’t think Potters Bar had the threat to get themselves back in the game. It needed to be about us not them. The second half was scrappy to start and we scored a third but I lost count the number of times we broke with men over but our decision making was letting us down.

For some reason we stopped playing as we had. They kept sending the ball long, Champs and Will were clearing it but we were then losing the second ball. Jack and Ayo were struggling towards the end, not having done 90 minutes yet this season but we didn’t really have any other options on the bench to replace them.

Ten minutes to go and they get one back and the whole mood of the place changes. We don’t look comfortable anymore but we still looked like we would hold out. Ball over the top, Will shepherds it out without touching it and we reset to play. But the lino has given a corner much to everyone’s surprise. I had this weird feeling that they would score from it and sure enough they do although the goal was a worldie – a volley, on the angle into the top corner.

We didn’t clear our heads and 90 seconds later they score again. We were shell-shocked and the boys were very low in the huddle after the game. We had them in on Wednesday, had a team meeting and spoke about what are we concentrating on. For 80 minutes they were outstanding yet we still lost and it is that final 10 minutes we need to work on.

We’ve played everyone at the top of the table and nobody has bossed us. I believe we are as good as anyone in that league. What we need to do is get people fit, get the same team out every week. This season no one in the league has broken away at the top. We need to get over this blip, pick up results and build the momentum that will see us climb the table.

Today will be a tough one, not just because Bowers & Pitsea are a good side but also because we don’t know what the hangover will be from Tuesday night until we go back out there. I know James Collins well, I worked with him when I was at Erith, a defensive minded manager who will look to frustrate us with men behind the ball then play on the counter attack.

They beaten some top sides in the league this season so we have to give them respect. We have to be therefore be patient, brave on the ball and take our chances.

We know we are going to be short of a few today but should welcome back Deon and Pritch from injury. We are still working on a couple of new faces we want to bring in – we research players we want to bring in thoroughly which means sometimes it takes longer than we may expect but we should have some news on those next week.

We could really do with you help today. We had times last season when we played flat but the support we got from you really lifted us and that’s what I’d ask of you today. Along with the boys, I see some of the comments on Social Media and everyone is entitled to their opinion but come match day the best thing you can do to help us is support us.


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Lewes crashed out of the FA Trophy on penalties after surrendering an early two-goal lead against local rivals Bognor Regis Town at the Pan. Report by Tom Harper, pictures from James Boyes.

The Rooks made a bright start and took the lead after just two minutes through Razz Coleman De-Graft, who cut inside from the left before unleashing a superb strike into the fsr corner.

Lewes could have doubled their lead minutes later when De-Graft sent a volley on the turn just wide.

The Rooks did make it 2-0 on 12 minutes, as they won the ball back high up the pitch and teed up Joe Taylor to finish past Toby Steward.

Conceding a second goal seemed to wake up the visitors who pulled a goal just five minutes later, Tom Chalaye controlling a cross from James Crane before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

Lewes saw plenty of the ball for the remainder of the half and came close to regaining their two-goal advantage just before the break, Steward reacting well to keep out a close-range effort from Taylor.

The visitors started the second half brightly and were awarded a penalty on 52 minutes when Will Salmon tripped Nathan Odokonyero as he attempted to latch onto a ball in behind.

Odokonyero took the penalty himself and converted it emphatically to level the scores.

Bognor were enjoying their best spell of the game, moving the ball quickly and always looking capable of getting in behind the Lewes defence.

Isaac Olaniyan was enjoying a particularly impressive game for the visitors and only just missed the target with a powerful 30-yard strike.

Lewes began to see more of the ball as the half progressed though, and saw Steward save bravely at the feet of De-Graft after excellent play in midfield by Ayo Olukoga.

Steward had to be alert again minutes later to make a slightly more comfortable save, parrying a powerful De-Graft strike.

The Rooks continued to apply pressure and saw Steward make another fine stop, this time to help an effort from Olukoga round the post.

The visitors were unable to completely clear the resulting corner, but Jack Skinner sliced his half-volley wide from just inside the box.

Both sides could have been forgiven for settling for penalties heading into the closing stages, but they continued to push for a winner in normal time.

It was Bognor who came closest late on, Olaniyan sending a long-range strike just over, before a cross from the right took a wicked deflection off Tom Champion, hit the inside of the post and landed at the feet of Lewis Carey.

Carey then had to be alert to push another Olaniyan effort from distance round the post. The resulting corner dropped to the feet of Cameron Black, but he blasted his half-volley over the crossbar with the final meaningful chance of the game, meaning the tie would be decided by penalties.

Both sides made a good start to the shoot-out, scoring the first two spot-kicks – Odokonyero and Bradley Lethbridge converting for Bognor, and Jamie Mascoll and Taylor scoring for Lewes.

Craig Robson converted the visitor’s third penalty, but Mitchell Nelson saw his saved twice by Steward after it had to be re-taken due to the goalkeeper being off his line.

Olaniyan scored Bognor’s fourth, meaning Steward’s save from Marcel Elva-Foutaine ensured the visitors won the shoot-out 4-2 to progress to the next round.

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The Rooks suffered injury-time heartbreak as top of the table Potters Bar Town came from 3-1 to win at the death.

Rooks boss Tony Russell was once again forced to shuffle the pack with injuries to Jamie Mascoll and Tyrique Hyde, Marcel Elva-Fountaine and Ayo Olukoga coming in to replace them.

The Rooks controlled the early play, stretching the play and it was from a wide position, with a crafty run from Olukoga that saw Joe Taylor smash home from close range in the 7th minute. The prolific striker should have had a second 10 minutes later when he was put clean through on goal but unusually shot wide with just the keeper to beat.

The home side looked to the aerial bombardment route to try to break down the Rooks but Carey, Salmon and Champion were mopping up everything thrown at them. Then two minutes before the break confusion reigned in the Potters Bar penalty area after Taylor put the home keeper under pressure and he handled a back-pass, resulting in an indirect free-kick ten yards out. Taylor was perfectly teed up and smashed the ball home to make it 2-0.

As we entered time added on Potters Bar pulled one back when Aidoo struck one from the edge of the box after a corner had only been partly cleared.

The second half started similar to the first with Lewes looking to cut through the league leaders. In the 50th minute Razz pulled two men over to the left-hand side, creating a huge amount of space to TQ Addy who made no mistake from ten yards.

It was one way traffic at this point. Skinner shot into the side netting, Razz hit the post and the Rooks were one pass away from a fourth on numerous occasions.

As the game entered the final ten minutes it still looked like a Rooks win. However, a Salmon header fell to Miles Mitchell-Nelson whose shot was deflected past Carey to bring it back to 3-2. Then, in the final minute the home side got a corner which was highly disputed by the Rooks defence. The ball was cleared but only to Kamara whose acrobatic shot from a tight angle made it 3-3. A superb goal but a punch in the stomach for the Rooks.

But worse was to come. As we entered the 5th minute of the five extra to be played the home side threw the ball forward one last time and it fell to Rudy Allen who hooked the ball over Carey, to send the players, bench and fans wild in celebration.

It was a tough game to lose, the first in eight leagues games, but the Rooks will dust themselves off for the visit of Bowers & Pitsea on Saturday.

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The club began life in an old wooden cricket pavilion in 1947 on the site of what is now Pitsea Market. A move to Gun Meadow, Pitsea saw the purchase of a prefabricated building which was used as changing rooms. The building of the new A13 from Canvey to the Five Bells roundabout saw the compulsory purchase of the ground and the club’s move to its current home at Crown Avenue, Pitsea. The ground was purchased from Basildon Development Corporation along with a prefabricated building which still serves as the dressing rooms. After the war years, once stability had come to the nation, many new sporting clubs sprang up.

One such club was our own, BOWERS UNITED, started in 1946 by Bert Salmon, playing at Gun Meadow, Pitsea, in the Thurrock & Thameside Combination, he was to be joined a few years later by his brother Len Salmon, who passed away and is sorely missed by everyone within the club. The biggest tribute Bowers Sport & Social Club could give him was to name his beloved football stadium after him.

Bowers United won the Essex Senior League title and the Essex Senior League cup in 1998/99 under Tony Cross and were also runners up in the Harry Fisher Trophy. They won the Don Douglas Trophy for top scorer with David Hope as well as the secretary of the year award.

Season 2004/05 saw a new name on the footballing map when Bowers United took Pitsea Football clubs name to produce BOWERS & PITSEA FOOTBALL CLUB, and with a new start and a new team at the helm success was just around the corner because a strong link was established with the local community and the clubs facilities that offered the residence a large Clubhouse, Bar and Function room Together with a ground capacity for 2000+ spectators, which includes seating for 300 in a well-appointed stand, excellent floodlighting is also an advantage at a higher level in which to play our football on.

This showed that after years of being in the wilderness, Bowers & Pitsea Football Club (formerly Bowers United) now intended to take the football side of the club forward.

Michael Barnard and Barry Hubbard joined forces to try to bring success to the club both on and off the field of play.

The recent improvements to the ground and surrounding area as well as the Social Club helped Bowers & Pitsea Football Club to achieve their goal when Rob Small was appointed manager in 2014/15 and in his first season took the club to runners up in the league as well as winning the Essex Senior League Challenge Cup alongside his team of Harry Stevens and Wayne Franklin and with the leagues top scorer award and the league secretary of the year award things were finally looking up for the football club.

In season 2015/16 Rob Small topped his haul from the previous season by winning the Essex Senior League Championship, getting to the quarter finals of the Essex Senior Cup but more impressive was reaching the semi-finals of the FA Vase were Bowers were narrowly beaten by eventual winners Morpeth Town 2-1 away after drawing the home leg 2-2.

We finally achieved one of our goals to reach and play in the Ryman’s League then called the BetVictor Isthmian League and we finished our first season in 6th place just three points outside the playoff positions. This followed with a third-place finish in season 2017/18 which saw us narrowly miss out on promotion, losing in the play-offs to Canvey Island. This season 2018/19 saw us reach the Premier League as we finished the campaign with 92 points, 29 wins, 5 draws and 4 losses with a very healthy 71 goal difference. Season 2019/20 saw our first ever season in the topflight and although sitting 14th the season was abruptly ended due to the Covid19 outbreak. The Development U23 side finished top two years running as well and with the upgrade to a 3g pitch and new stands, changing rooms, bar and turn styles things are heading in the right direction.


Kie Plumley – Young talented goalkeeper on loan from Oxford United. Spent the back end of last season with manager James Collins at Faversham Town.

Dylan Thiselton – Product of the Crystal Palace academy, Dylan joined this summer. Energetic full back who likes to get up and down the right hand side.

Dexter Peter – The commanding centre half joins from Wingate & Finchley. Former Colchester United graduate. Dexter has enjoyed spells at Maldon & Tiptree and Concord Rangers.

Valckx Fernandes – Tall, imposing, versatile defensive player who can play a number of roles. He joins us this summer having featured for Leatherhead, Tilbury and Basildon United.

Jamal Allen – Adaptable defender Jamal joins us from Tilbury this season. Strong and dominating in the air, very comfortable on the ball.

Ugonna Emenike – The tall, athletic, pacy left back joins up with Bowers following his departure from Sunderland in the summer. He was previously at Leatherhead before sealing a move up north to Sunderland.

Jack Unwin – Local lad who has joined up with the first team squad this summer. Attacking, intelligent winger.

Michael Bareck – The pacy winger who can play on either wing joins us following his departure from Ipswich Town.

Mobolaji Dawodu – Bola is best described as a box to box midfielder, good in the air. Was with James at Faversham last year before moving to Herne Bay where he clinched promotion via the play offs.

D’Jean Spencer – Creative midfielder D’Jean joins up with manager James Collins again following a spell at Faversham last season. He was a product of the Tottenham Hotspur youth-set up.

Alfie Osbourne – Young centre midfielder who has impressed over pre season and been promoted to the first team squad. Very energetic and has an eye for a pass. Undoubtedly has a good career ahead of him.

Billy Knott – Billy returns to Bowers & Pitsea for his second spell at the club. A local lad who has a wealth of football league experience to his name. Has represented England at youth team level and was a part of the Bradford side who knocked Chelsea out of the FA Cup in 2015. Previous clubs include Wycombe Wanderers, Bradford, Lincoln, AFC Wimbledon and Sunderland.

Elliot Sartorius – Attacking technical player with an eye for a goal, Elliot joins us following a spell with Lincoln City.

Ola Bello – Young pacy forward, who can play out wide or down the middle. He arrived at Bowers from Ipswich Town.

Emmanuel Oluwasemo – Manny joins us from Margate having joined them in the summer from Faversham. He was top scorer for James at Faversham last season. Powerful forward who can operate out wide or down the middle.

Julian Gibson – Energetic full back who likes to get up and down, equally capable of playing on either side. Julian joins the club following a successful spell out in America. He was on trial at Walsall in the summer before heading to Essex.

Freddie Hockey – young Freddie joins us on loan from Chelmsford City where has made numerous appearances for them. The pacy winger scored against us in pre pre-season. One with a real bright future in the game ahead of him.

Ryan Huckle – the physical, tough tackling centre midfielder with an eye for a pass joins us from Erith & Belvedere. He can also play as a centre back. His previous clubs include Gillingham, Leatherhead and East Grinstead.

Lenny Asamoah – A pacy forward who has come up from our Bowers youth team with a good awareness of the game and is looking to further his football career with the first team.

Ayman El-Mogharbel – Ayman is a new signing just in from a spell at Corinthian Casuals and is looking to get his career with Bowers underway.

Jefferson Aibangbee – New loan

Billy Crook – New Signing

Oscar Shelvey – New Signing

Joshua Blunkell – New Loan

Will Hayes – Will is a confident defender who has plays for our under 18 team and is looking to further his abilities with our first team.

Pierce Knight – Pierce is another one of our under 18 youth players looking to step up into our adult first team to further his abilities.

Harry McKie – Harry joins us after spells at Southend Manor and East Thurrock where has played in goal, Harry is a young but strong and confident keeper who is working hard with our team.

James Collins – Manager – James arrives at the club having previously successfully managed Lordswood, Cray Valley PM, Chatham and most recently Faversham Town where he guided them to their best ever FA Trophy run last season.

Brad Sandemann – Assistant Manager – Brad has a wealth of football league experience having played for Northampton, Maidstone, Port Vale and Rotherham United. He arrives with James having been his assistant at Lordswood, Cray Valley PM, Chatham and Faversham Town.

Laurence Collins – Assistant Manager – Lau has played for a number of non league clubs including VCD Athletic, Erith & Belvedere, Chatham Town and Cray Valley PM. He played under James at a number of clubs and joined up in the dugout with his brother for the first time last season at Faversham Town.

Paul Hayes – Director of Football – Paul was announced as director of football in May 2022. His record in the game speaks for itself with over 500 games in the professional game along with a number of promotions up the football league ladder. His playing career includes stints at Scunthorpe, Barnsley, Preston, Charlton, Wycombe Wanderers and Brentford.



23rd Apr 2022Isthmian Premier LeagueLewes2Bowers & Pitsea2
11th Dec 2021Isthmian Premier LeagueBowers & Pitsea1Lewes3
6th Oct 2020Isthmian Premier LeagueBowers & Pitsea1Lewes1
21st Sept 2019FA Cup 2nd QualifyingLewes1Bowers & Pitsea2
17th Aug 2019Isthmian Premier LeagueLewes0Bowers & Pitsea2


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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

Lewis CareySusie ArlettJack Skinner
Tom CarlseMichael McDowellJohnville Renee
Marcel Elva-FountaineRhys Murrell-WilliamsonTrevor Norwood
Kenny YaoDeshane Dalling
Tom ChampionTom, Alice & Russ MouldRazz Coleman De-GraftThe Ouze
Will SalmonDeon Moore
Mitchell NelsonBilly BeauzileJoe TaylorStuart Fuller
Ayo OlukogaFraser Middleton-Tozer
Bradley PritchardFinley Jenkins
Alfie YoungJamie Mascoll
Tyrique Hyde
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Day two of the weekend and the sun was shining, whilst the rain continued to fall back in England. Naturally breakfast involved the smallest possible cup of coffee and a dirty look when I asked the waiter if they could rustle up a bacon sandwich. Perhaps my mistake was not asking for pancetta, or using my emergency travel Marmite on my croissant that offended him so much. But when he spotted me looking at my map of Monza his eyes lit up.

“I Bagai” he said, which translates as I discovered later not to my smart tan man bag but to “The Boys”, one of the nicknames of Associazione Calcio Monza, Serie A’s newest side, having been promoted for the first time last summer.

Monza is most famous for the location of the Italian Grand Prix, held traditionally on the first week of September. The circuit, just a few miles north of the town centre, has hosted the annual race every year since the competition began in 1950 bar one season, meaning it has hosted more F1 races than any other circuit. Tens of thousands of motor racing fans head to the town for the three-day event every year, meaning that you’d think public transport could cope with a sudden influx of people. Or perhaps not as we discovered.

The football club have spent most of their history in the 2nd and 3rd tiers of Italian football, naturally with a few bankruptcies thrown in for good measure, the most recent being in 2015, which eventually paved the way for the arrival of a man very well known in these parts – Silvio Burlusconi. The former president of AC Milan and Italian Prime Minister on four separate occasions, no stranger to controversy and the courts, took over the club in 2018, through his holding company Fininvest. Since then the club has risen from Serie C to Serie A, via the playoffs.

Being their first season I had thought tickets for games at the 15,000 capacity Stadio Brianteo would be hard to come by. But, as I saw in buying my €14 AC Milan tickets, nothing is what it seems in Italy these days, and four tickets, albeit ones exposed to the elements, were easily procured through the official website. To be fair, all tickets, bar the €50 to €100 ones are open air at Monza and whilst the weather at this time of the year can be very wet and very cold, we struck lucky with warm Autumnal sunshine when we eventually made it to the ground.

I say eventually as unlike the day before with transportation logistics, a simple 10 mile journey from Milan became a bit of a nightmare. The metro runs almost to Monza itself, terminating at a stop called Sesto 1st Maggio. From there you cross the road to the overground station where a 4 minute journey deposits you at Monza Centrale. Hop onto a waiting bus and within 10 minutes you are at the Stadio Brainteo right on the edge of town. Simple.

Very simple. Except when the train doesn’t arrive and then there is a bus strike. Our train to Monza simply disappeared. One minute is was “approaching” but it never arrived. A group of other football fans sensed an issue and jumped in a cab outside the station. Of course, I knew best and suggested we waited as trains don’t just disappear….OK, having experienced similar phenomenon many times with South Eastern Trains I made an assumption such things didn’t happen outside of the UK.

Eventually a train arrived. It wasn’t our train, which was still missing, but it was going in the right direction. We could still make kick-off. That was until we found out the buses were on strike. Uber suggested our nearest driver was 25 minutes away and so we walked. Why do we always think Google Maps is wrong when it suggests the walking time is long. It wasn’t and 41 minutes later we entered the stadium, 10 minutes into the game.

A few years ago the Italian authorities introduced a rule that all tickets for football had to carry the name of the holder on, and IDs would be checked. Of course if you are arriving an hour before kick off in Italy (as opposed to 10 minutes before in England) it may not be an issue with the number of people trying to get in, but 10 minutes after kick-off and any mistakes stick out like a sore thumb, or so you’d think. I presented my Saudi Arabian Visa page in my passport and after a good 30 second study, trying to understand what my name looked like in Arabic, I was in.

We hadn’t missed much, although the two sets of fans were in full flow. The Hellas Verona fans had come in good numbers, making the 100 mile trip, to take up their place in the open stand, perfectly framed against the Alps in the distance. The covered main stand (with the €100 tickets) was half empty, with the fans enjoying the Autumnal sunshine in the cheap seats. They were soon on their feet as Giangiacomo Magnani was sent off for bringing down a Monza forward, after another long VAR review.

Despite having the numerical advantage it took another forty minutes for the home side to score, Carlos Augusto opening the scoring. The visitors bus had to be removed from the parking space in front of the penalty box but they were never in the game. We had a choice at this point – we could gamble on finding a taxi and staying until the end or leave now and start the long walk back to catch the 17:10 train back to Milan. We took the former and subsequently missed another 90th minute goal, Andrea Colpani doubling the lead for Monza.

I shared the good news as we started on our route march. The train was 6 minutes late. And we all know that once a train is late, it only gets later. Apart from in Italy it seemed. Every time I checked on our Olympic paced walk, it had gained a minute. With the station in sight, we saw the train slowing down at the platform. We needed tickets so we sent the youngster ahead to hold the doors. A great idea, except they held the doors open of the train heading north, rather than south to Milan much to the bemusement of the carriage. Our train was indeed still six minute late and we got on without an issue.

We had a twenty minute turnaround in Milan, the Current Mrs Fuller heading home, the rest of us heading to Turin for the final game of the weekend.

Three games, three 90 minute goals missed. Could we make in four out of four?

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#1. On this day in 1996, with Italian legend signed for Chelsea

#2. On this day in 1996 which manager resigned from Manchester City and in the process became the shortest serving EPL manager (a record that still exists today)

#3. On this day in 1986, Sir Alex Ferguson became Manchester United's manager. His first game was a 2-0 defeat to Oxford United. How many non-British players did he name in his starting XI?

#4. On this day in 2014 we beat Leatherhead on the road in the Isthmian Premier League. What was unusual about the game?

#5. Tonight is the Carabao Cup. The competition didn't have a sponsor until 1981. But who was that first sponsor?

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Our leaders- at start of play- Hornchurch were on the road to the coast, where they faced Brightlingsea Regent. The hosts started the weekend without a league win since August Bank Holiday Monday, whilst the Urchins had lost only one of their last eleven, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when Sam Higgins put the visitors ahead midway through the first half- his sixteenth of the season. It was perhaps more of a surprise, however, when the next goal arrived- it went to the hosts, and it went to Zack Litlejohn four minutes after the restart. That turned out to be that, and the Urchins slipped to second.

Aveley were also on the road, but not quite so far away, as they travelled to Bowers & Pitsea. George Sykes, playing his one hundredth Millers match put them ahead with his head eleven minutes after the break- his fifteenth of the campaign- but they held that lead for only twenty minutes, Bola Dawodu with the equaliser. Just before the end the home fans were given the kind of treat they haven’t experienced since August 20th- a winning goal, which went to Elliott Sartorius. The Millers drop to third.

Potters Bar Town started the day just a point behind our leading duo- and ended the day at the top of the pile once more. The Scholars were on the road to White Hart Lane, where they took on Haringey Borough. They took the lead three minutes after the break, Kasim Aidoo (pictured) with the goal, and the same player doubled their advantage just after the hour, pouncing on a defensive lapse and firing home. Borough then gave themselves a chance, Alphanso Kennedy getting a goal back, but hope remained unfulfilled and the Scholars went back to the summit and made it three wins in a row against these opponents.

Canvey Island knew that a win would take them into the top five- indeed, perhaps as high as fourth- but the Gulls needed to defeat the side directly behind them in the table, Carshalton Athletic, and it was the Robins who struck- pecked- first, Tom Beere with the goal. Just before the break the equaliser arrived, Joe Paxman with it- and it was followed by a red card by Robins goalscorer Beere, surely giving the hosts an advantage. They couldn’t capitalise on it, however, despite hitting the bar and having a goal disallowed, and there were no further goals- the sides remaining sixth and seventh.

Cray Wanderers, six unbeaten, played host to Wingate & Finchley, who had lost their last four in all competitions and started the weekend just three points above the drop zone. Wingate don’t usually have a good record against the Wands, with just one win from nine before this weekend- but that victory did come at Hayes Lane last season, and they went ahead for a second season in a row, Antonis Vasiliou opening the scoring with just twelve minutes left. Wands then made their chances of a comeback more difficult, Kellen Fisher seeing red, and the visitors held on for three points, keeping them out of the bottom four.

Horsham and Herne Bay met at the Camping World Community Stadium. Bay had lost their last six matches- and their manager- and they lost a goal midway through the first half, Tom Day converting after a free kick came back off the post. The Hornets had a second with four minutes to go until half time, Lucas Rodrigues doubling their advantage, but Kymani Thomas immediately hit back, firing home from distance. The next goal was critical, and it went to the Hornets thirteen minutes from time, Harvey Sparks surely ensuring victory. If he hadn’t, Jack Mazzone did, with a fourth two minutes before the end- the Hornets up to eighth.

Into the FA Trophy now- and then there were two, as only Invicta and Bognor progressed to the next round from amongst our Pitching In isthmian Premier crop.

Beaconsfield Town were the hosts for Folkestone Invicta. Town, mid table in Pitching In Southern Premier South, had won their last three; whilst Invicta had saved most of their best performances for cup matches this season- and delivered another win, albeit on penalties. Toby Little put the hosts ahead midway through the first half, Ira Jackson volleyed home to level on the hour, and Invicta won the shootout five-four thanks to a fine save from Bailey Vose.

Billericay Town welcomed National League South side Bath City. The two were at the same level last season and City won both encounters- and they did it again, three-one, John Ufuah scored for the Blues.

Hastings United took on Chippenham Town- again. The two met in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup last season and a Kenny Pogue goal sent the National League South side crashing out- but history did not repeat itself. Ben Pope did score from the spot for the hosts after a handball was penalised, but that was an equaliser, and the winner arrived seven minutes from time.

Leamington of National League North played host to our promotion-chasing Premier Division Bishop’s Stortford, and sadly the Blues fought hard but departed, one-nil.

On Tuesday night Horsham played host to Cray Wanderers.

The sides came into the match level on points and level on goal difference, the Hornets ahead only on goals scored- and that remained the same at the end, too, after Wands produced a second half comeback to take a point. The Hornets had only beaten Wands once in their previous sixteen attempts, but it looked like they were well on the way to victory at half time, as early goals from Lee Harding and Jack Mazzone left them comfortable- but that comfort was fleeting, as Anthony Cook reduced the arrears six minutes into the second half and Nyren Clunis levelled with seventeen minutes to go.

Bognor Regis Town are up to eleventh after victory over Bowers & Pitsea. Bowers, buoyed by the weekend’s win over title-chasing Aveley- their first league win in nearly three months, went behind six minutes before the break, and it was a familiar name on the scoresheet, Nathan Odokonyero with his sixteenth of the campaign. It took until fourteen minutes from time for a second goal to arrive, and that also went to the Rocks, Sam De St Croix making it two. Billy Crook quickly got one back from the spot and the visitors had eight minutes to level, but they couldn’t find a second goal and remain fourth from bottom.

In the blue corner of North London, Wingate & Finchley welcomed Corinthian-Casuals. The hosts were far too welcoming early on, giving away a spot kick which Elijah Simpson converted to give Casuals the lead. They held that lead until three minutes from time, and by then had ten men, Trey Masikini seeing red. It took only a minute for the ten men to crumble, Ben Siggers with the equaliser.

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The story is a familiar one. A run of the mill club grabs the attention of an individual with more money than sense. Investment follows, dreams are dreamt and success comes. But then there’s a compelling event and the masses cry “told you so” as the club departs stage left, often never to be seen again.

Thankfully, the community ownership principle offers hope to clubs who were hopeless. We don’t have to look too far from our own front gates to know that. For Lewes read Exeter City, Grays Athletic, Portsmouth and AFC Rushden & Diamonds.

The Diamonds were formed by a merger of Rushden Town and Irthlingborough Diamonds in 1992. They entered the Southern League and won the Midland Division in the 1993–94 season and the Premier Division in the 1995–96 season. They then spent five seasons in the Conference National, before they won a place in the Football League after winning the 2000–01 Conference title. They lost the 2002 play-off final and then secured promotion into the Second Division after winning the Third Division title in 2002–03. The club were living the dream, a ten year march up the leagues, playing in an impressive stadium, built on the success of Dr Martens, located just down the road.

Alas, the withdrawal of support from Max Griggs, owner of Dr Martens saw the club plummet back down the leagues. They were relegated from the Football League in 2006, which two seasons later led to the meetings between the Diamonds and the Rooks in the National League.

The first meeting in September 2009 was also the first time the Rooks had appeared live on TV, with the game being broadcast by now defunct broadcaster Setanta TV. The team, under the management of Kevin Keehan included such players as Rikki Banks, Chris Breach, Stefan Cox and Kerry Mayo. Despite holding out until half-time, the 636 fans were disappointed to see the Rooks capitulate in the second half, conceding four without reply. The return game was played at Nene Park in March ended 2-1 to the home side.

At the end of the season, Rushden & Diamonds finished in 11th whilst the Rooks were relegated in last spot. However, two years later the curtain came down on Diamonds, forced to resign from the league and subsequently folding.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds was created during the summer of 2011 by Rushden & Diamonds fans as a phoenix club. Ten years later and they are playing back at the same level as Lewes, albeit in the Southern Premier League Central, meaning there could be a meeting once again some sunny day.

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It seemed like a long time since our last away game at Chesham. We were faced with a 200 mile round trip to Potters Bar but looking forward to it. Well, a couple of us were. Only Treasurer Al and PJ were up for it. It would mean getting back very late and Roly didn’t want to break the Polegate curfew. Gary decided to stay at home, probably to give his Petula Clark collection another spin and polish his badges. Steve just declared himself unavailable.

Trains were a no-go. Who wants to get home at 01.50 by bus from Three Bridges? Al was at the Pan for a bit of maintenance on the training goals with Terry M. PJ rocked up and we were on our way with Al at the wheel at exactly 16.47 and a bit. We would probably be a bit early but one never knows what the M25 is going to throw at you. It’s the same distance whichever way one goes around the M25 but we plumped for the clockwise route to avoid Dartford and any possible protestors. We don’t like paying tolls either.

It all went swimmingly well and we got to Potters bar Town FC car park a couple of hours later. We were denied entry as we couldn’t convince the steward we were players. Now we had read that if one turned up to this game with another clubs season ticket one could get in for a fiver. It was a special world cup deal. What they didn’t mention was that it didn’t include season tickets of teams playing on the night. In other words, Lewes. We found that rather misleading and grudgingly coughed up the eight quid old codgers rate. Their discount scheme couldn’t have had much impact. We later found out that the attendance was a paltry 173 of which about 30 were Rooks. Pretty poor for a team top of the league. 

We had ample time for a pint and some food while watching a bit of France v Australia playing in some minor tournament out in the middle east somewhere.

The choice of food was somewhat limited. There was no menu. It was either burgers or nothing. No chips. No hot dogs. No bacon rolls. Only burgers. Like it or lump it. Being Stodgebusters means nothing is not an option, and the burgers did look very good on the griddle next to the biggest pan of onions we’ve ever seen. So a couple of £5 “Gourmet” cheeseburgers in Brioche buns were ordered up. We are not burger connoisseurs. We are more your full English or steak and kidney pud types but we thought these burgers were very good. In fact we rated them up there amongst the best burgers we have ever had in a football ground. We gave them an eight-point-five on the Stodge-o-meter, slightly down due to the poor quality serviettes sticking to the burger.

We have to admit that we weren’t that confident of getting a result. They must be doing something right to be top of the league and must start as favourites. But Lewes started strongly and it wasn’t long before Joe fired us in front from a low cross. Joe then put a one-on-one just wide of the post. Lewes were all over them and there was panic in the home defence. Just before half time a mix up resulted in their keeper handling a back pass and an indirect free kick eight yards out. After what seemed like an age getting their wall back on the goal line and explaining to the number eleven what ten yards looked like, Jack Skinner rolled the ball back to Joe who crashed the ball into the net. Two nil up against the league leaders who really looked like nothing of the sort. Woo-hoo! The gloss was taken off it a bit a couple of minutes later when Potters Bar pulled one back just before half time with a nice finish from a partially cleared corner.

We were expecting some changes from Potters Bar, such as clamping down on Razz, but the game carried on like the first half. Potters Bar had plenty of possession and kept lumping the ball forward, but about six minutes into the half Razz broke down the left and crossed the ball to a completely unmarked TQ Addy who could have read a couple of chapters of War and Peace before slamming the ball past the keeper for 3-1. The home team continued to have plenty of the ball but Lewes dealt with it quite comfortably. The question was asked more than once “how are this lot top of the league?” We would find out later.

We made it quite comfortably to 81 minutes. Indeed we could easily have had 5 or 6 by then. Razz had crashed a shot against the post, and had he put in Joe instead of shooting himself it would surely have resulted in another. Then things went wrong. Another Potters Bar corner was headed away OK but landed at the feet of a home player, central and in space. A couple of paces and he lashed it wide of Carey. OK, 3-2 up with less than ten minutes to go, we should be able to see this out. How wrong could we be? Suddenly Potters Bar had fresh belief, are a yard faster and winning most of the challenges.

We brought on Mitchell Nelson to help shore up the defence but they threw the kitchen sink at us. We were defending desperately but kept just hoofing it clear instead of trying to find an out ball. The ball just kept coming back. Potters Bar smelled blood. 90 minutes were up with a further 4 minutes to be added. We were still confident of holding on when a corner was punched out by Carey. Their player was at a very tight angle but he spun and fired into the roof of the net from 10 yards Marco Van Basten-esque. What a bleedin’ goal. He’ll probably never do that again if he plays to 100. Why did he have to do it against us?

The Lewes contingent behind the goal sounded like a Victor Meldrew Appreciation Society meeting with gasps of “I don’t belieeeeeeve it!”

It got worse. Just as we were trying to console ourselves with a point away at the league leaders they struck again. The Lewes defence was all over the place. A cross from the right was rammed home by a completely unmarked player despite us having an extra defender on. We were distraught and several unprintable words might have been uttered. Potters Bar understandably reacted as if they had won the FA cup, the Grand National and Eurovision Song Contest all at once. How the hell had that happened? There was barely time to kick off again.

What a disaster. We had outclassed them for 81 minutes and came away with nowt. We then had to run the gauntlet of some home fans taking the Mickey as we trudged out of the ground. Two games in four days we had been two up and ended up losing both. How has that happened?

It was a pretty muted journey home trying to understand how we had lost that game. We still have defensive frailties and a lack of fresh legs on the bench certainly hadn’t helped.

The Stodgebusters will return at Haringey hoping for better.

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About Coles Park
The ground is slowly being developed by the ambitious owners, including the installation of a 3G pitch,  but it is still a one-sided affair with the main stand which can seat 280 straddling the half-way line and offering good views of the game, whilst just to the side of this stand is a covered terrace.  Apart from that it is hard-floor standing on the three other sides with very little in the way of shade.  There is a decent sized clubhouse behind the main stand and some excellent food options from a pop-up stand in between the main stand and the covered terrace.

The ground was used for games during the 2018 CONIFA World Cup.

How to get to Coles Park
It doesn’t matter which way you choose to get to Coles Park, you will encounter traffic as you try to navigate towards North London.  Head up the A23/M23 and then anti-clockwise around the M25.  Now you have to make a choice.  Either head under the Thames through the Dartford Tunnel and continue around the M25 to junction 25 then head south on the A10 through Enfield until you hit the junction with the A406 North Circular Road OR M25 to junction 2, head London-bound on the A2, through the Blackwall Tunnel, A12 northwards then join the A406 at the Redbridge Roundabout and follow anti-clockwise until the junction with the A10.

Follow the A10 south towards Central London for around a mile and then take a right into White Hart Lane.  The ground is on your left-hand side.  There is a large car park in the ground as well as plenty of street parking if you continue down White Hart Lane and take any of the roads on the left.  It is around 90 minutes from Lewes and a driving time of around 2 hours 15 minutes accounting for the poor traffic.

The nearest train station is probably White Hart Lane, which is a 20-odd minute walk.  Simply head out of the station and turn left into White Hart Lane (don’t get confused by the brand-spanking new Tottenham Hotspur ground!).  Alternatively, the nearest tube is Wood Green which is about a mile away.  Exit station and take a left onto Lordship Lane, then a left into Perth Road.  Follow this all the way until it meets White Hart Lane and then a right and the ground is 250 metres on the right.

Admission at Coles Park

Admission last season was £10 for adults, £5 for concessions (senior citizens and students), and accompanied under 16s admitted free of charge.  I’d expect this season to see a small rise in these prices.

Fancy a beer?
The nearest pub to the ground is The Two Brewers in Scotland Green which doesn’t appear to have much of a choice of beers, whilst the Victoria just a couple of doors away is not a bad option.  The nearest Wetherspoons is the Spouter’s Corner, on Spouter’s Corner which is close to Wood Green tube station.  The Bohem Tap Room is highly recommended but a good 20-minute walk from the ground in Myddleton Road, N22.

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“The Isthmian Football League strongly supports the FA statement that there should be a zero tolerance approach against racism and all forms of discrimination. Accordingly any form of discriminatory abuse whether it by reason of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion and belief, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, sex and sexual orientation or any other form of abuse will be reported to The Football Association for action by that Association.” (The FA 0800 085 0508 / Kick it Out 020 7253 0162).The Isthmian League and all Member Clubs in the League are committed to promoting equality by treating people fairly and with respect, by recognising that inequalities may exist, by taking steps to address them and providing access and opportunities for all members of the community.”

Lewes 2000 FC Limited. Registered in England and Wales with Company Registration Number 03790979. Lewes 2000 FC Limited is 100% owned by Lewes Community Football Club.

Honorary President Terry Parris
Chair Stuart Fuller
Directors Willa Bailey, Tim Bradshaw, Ed Briggs, Scott Currie, Stuart Fuller, Andy Gowland, 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
Communication Manager Jack Towers
Commercial Manager Steph McLaughlin

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

Golden Rook Rob Read
Web Editor Stuart Fuller
Progcast Editor Stuart Fuller, Ashley Adamson-Edwards and Stan Lahood
Club Photographer James Boyes

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  1. Gianfranco Zola
  2. Steve Coppell
  3. Two – Kevin Moran and Paul McGrath
  4. No substitutions were made
  5. The Milk Marketing Board – The Milk Cup