Friday 7th April 2023 3pm – The Isthmian Premier League – The Dripping Pan, Lewes

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Welcome to The Dripping Pan for this afternoon’s Isthmian Premier League game against Herne Bay. 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 our visitors from Herne Bay. I’d like to welcome the fans, players, management and officials from the Kent coast and hope they enjoy our off the field hospitality today.

With just two weeks to go in the season, nothing at the top of the table has been decided yet. The top four have opened up a gap but there’s still so many big games to go that it is almost certain to go to the final day of the season. Whilst our sights remain on Enfield Town in 5th place, you only have to look at Aveley’s run in, where they play the teams above them, and Enfield, in their final four games. Whilst we left Margate last Saturday disappointed with just a draw, we know that we can still put huge pressure on the teams above us with victories in our final four games of the season.

Whatever the outcome of the season, we can look back on some great games and progress. There’s no doubt this has been the most competitive league we have been involved in for the last 15 years and we’ve gone toe to toe with everyone in the league – ironically, bar the one performance against our visitors today back in October. I had been away for business on that night but rushed straight from Gatwick to Herne Bay and got there when we were 4-0 down. A steward let me in and joked whether I really wanted to see the final 30 minutes. We scored the only goal in the game that I saw so I cling on in false belief that as I didn’t see the 4 go in at the other end, they didn’t count.

Our support, both home and away has been superb this season, and we took around 80 fans to Margate on Saturday and made a huge noise there. That support has been a massive help to the team and we ask you to keep that going for our final four games of the season, and just maybe fate will play a part in what happens next.

Finally, you may have seen on Social Media in the last couple of days that Tom Champion has decided to retire at the end of the season. Whilst Tom has only been with us for a season, he has contributed so much as captain to the squad and club and we will really miss his wise head on and off the pitch.

Come on you Rooks!


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After today’s match we will be collecting for the Brain Tumour Charity, which funds vital research to try to find a cure for this condition, which affects all age groups and remains the biggest cancer killer of children and people under the age of 40. Over £700m is spent on cancer research in the UK every year, yet less than 3% is spent on brain tumour research.

Two years ago Supporters Club Chair Dave Evans had surgery, radiotherapy and chemo for a brain tumour. He has been lucky enough to be in remission at the moment, and two weeks from now will be running the London Marathon to raise funds for The Brain Tumour Charity. He’s had fantastic support in the last few months and so far, have raised nearly £6,300, hoping to get to £7,000 so anything you can spare will be gratefully received.

You can see the full story and donate online here, if you prefer.

The Brain Tumour Charity is currently trying to improve understanding of the possible signs and symptoms of brain tumours, as so many patients are diagnosed too late. You can see information about this, here.

Thank you for your support.

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Good afternoon and welcome back to the Pan.  

Last Saturday we were disappointed to come away from Margate with just a point.  In the first half I thought we were really good, very positive and deserved more.  Yes, we conceded two goals but let’s not take anything away from the home side.  The first goal, whilst it came from a quality ball into the box, we should have had someone being proactive and meeting the ball as it arrived.  From our perspective we should have done better, but I couldn’t have been happier with how we responded, pinning them into their final third and we looked like scoring every time we went forward.

The goal came about after a great third man run by Hydie and a superb finish.  A few minutes later we get a corner, play it short and we give it away.  They broke and got a corner at the other end.  Thirty seconds later we have conceded a second goal, with the ball pin-balling around our six yard box and it was one of those where it could have gone anywhere. Out of two set plays they we have effectively gifted them two goals. 

But once again our reaction is top-notch with JT converting superbly to level the scores.  At half-time we spoke about letting the handbrake off and moving out of our comfort zone to win the game. But on hindsight I don’t think we were adventurous enough, and we stopped driving the game. With Margate happy to sit back it became a bit of a non-event.  In our current position we can’t afford for that to happen again.  We need wins, and it was a missed opportunity with the other results around us.

We got the boys in on Monday and went through the video and reiterated the need to be bolder, to take risks and really want to win.  We know that a play-off spot isn’t in our hands but that doesn’t mean we will give up on it.  We trained well on Wednesday night in preparation for the game against Herne Bay, trying to remove that fear of failure.

We have to win all four games and that means we will leave ourselves open but we have to do that without any fear or reprisals – something I hope you all can understand.  We scored 81 goals in all competitions – we know where the net is and we need to find it over the next two weeks to have any chance of a play-off spot.

Teams sit back and wait for us to make mistakes.  Before today we would have tried to mitigate that but now, all bets are off and we will do what we need to do to win games, starting today.  But don’t let the league table fool you.  Herne Bay are a good side – we only have to look back to our game at their place in October. Look at their last six games since their new management team went in there.  I know Kevin Watson and his assistant well, they are great individuals who understand football.  They’ve brought in a few new faces, and have beaten Horsham 3-0, beat Carshalton Athletic and drew 3-3 with Hastings United last week.  They are dangerous up front, organised at the back.

We want everyone to enjoy the game, both in terms of our players and the fans.  We will give Herne Bay the respect they deserve but we will do what we need to do to win the game.  We have a tough game at Bognor Regis Town on Monday as well so we need to bear that in mind too.

The support last Saturday at Margate was unreal and let’s try to recreate that noise for this one here at The Pan.

Come on you Rooks!


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First-half goals from Tom Champion and Joe Taylor helped Lewes return to winning ways with a vital 2-1 win over Potters Bar Town at the Pan, reports Tom Harper (pictures James Boyes and Stuart Fuller).

Tony Russell made two changes to the side that lost 2-0 at home to Canvey Island in their previous game, with Will Salmon and Bradley Pritchard replacing Tyrique Hyde and Jayden Davis in the starting line-up.

The visitors started brightly, forcing a couple of early corners without calling Lewis Carey into any meaningful action.

Lewes nearly took the lead in bizarre circumstances, a long ball up the field being headed back towards his own goal by Adam Martin, with wrong-footed goalkeeper Louis Chadwick forced into evasive action to claw the ball off his own line.

Without being at their free-flowing best, Lewes started to take control of the game, keeping the ball well and pushing forward in numbers as they looked for an opening goal.

Chadwick was called into action to make a smart save to deny Ayo Olukoga at the end of a sweeping move, with the Rooks beginning to turn possession into more clear-cut opportunities.

Lewes took the lead on the half-hour mark, a Razz Coleman De-Graft corner from the right being met by Champion with a thumping header at the near post.

This goal understandably galvanised the Rooks, who saw Taylor narrowly miss the target twice in a matter of minutes leading up to half-time.

Taylor scored the goal he had been threatening deep into first-half injury-time, superbly controlling a De-Graft cross before beating a defender and finishing past Chadwick to put Lewes 2-0 up at the break.

There were few chances of note during the opening stages of the second half, as Lewes kept the ball well without coming close to adding to their lead.

As the half progressed, Potters Bar began to push more players forward, and saw Carey get just enough on a long-range Theo Alexandrou strike to help it over the bar as they looked for a way back into the game.

The Rooks soon started to turn their possession into chances through, as Ryan Gondoh ran onto a Taylor flick-on before seeing his strike saved by Chadwick.

Gondoh went close again minutes later, but once again saw Chadwick make a fine save to deny him and prevent Lewes scoring a third goal.

The visitors made the most of this by pulling a goal back with four minutes remaining, Makise Evans being played through on goal by Wilson Chingoka before finishing past Carey to set up a tense final few minutes.

If anything, seeing their lead halved appeared to re-focus Lewes, who arguably should have secured all three points late on, as a loose ball in the area dropped to Jaydn Mundle-Smith, who could only blast his half-volley wide.

The visitors forced a couple of corners late on, but were unable to create a chance of note, leaving Lewes to reflect on an important win as they continue to push for a play-off place.

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Just four games to go and it is still all up in the air as to who will be going up and who will be competing in the play-offs. Hornchurch’s surprise defeats on the last two Saturday’s have seen Bishop’s Stortford leapfrog them into top spot, whilst Canvey Island’s charge up the table continues at a pace. Aveley’s recent wobble was halted with their win at Haringey Borough but they have by far the hardest run in, facing all of the sides currently in the top five aside from themselves.

Enfield Town, hanging on to that last play-off spot are still the target for the teams below, including ourselves and they don’t have the easiest games remaining. Perhaps Cray Wanderers, still to play three of the bottom five, will fancy their chances of sneaking in?

Bishop’s Stortford (76)Hornchurch (74)Canvey Island (74)Aveley (74)
Aveley (A)Billericay Town (H)Kingstonian (A)Bish Stort (H)
Brightlingsea (H)Carshalton (A)Aveley (H)Canvey Isl (A)
Enfield Town (H)Bowers & Pt (H)Folkestone (A)Horsham (H)
Herne Bay (A)Kingstonian (A)Lewes (H)Enfield Town (A)
Enfield Town (68)Cray Wanderers (64)Horsham (62)Hastings United (60)
Horsham (A)Corinthian Cas (H)Enfield Town (H)Potters Bar (A)
Haringey Bor (H)Herne Bay (A)Hastings Utd (A)Horsham (H)
Bish Stort (A)Kingstonian (H)Aveley (A)Bognor Regis (H)
Aveley (H)Haringey Bor (A)Brightlingsea (H)Billericay Town (H)
Bowers & Pt (A)
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After our 2-2 draw away to Margate, I spoke to some Lewes fans about our chances for playoffs, and there was a mixture in responses. Some spoke with optimism, and others spoke with acceptance that the race was over. Personally, looking at Enfield’s remaining fixtures, we have a chance to jump ahead of them, providing that Cray Wanderers also drop points. Cray’s fixtures are more favourable, but they do face Herne Bay and Kingstonian, who are fighting for their lives to stay in this division, so we could see some shock results in either of those games.

Normally, I only ask one question for the Vox Pop, but as the season is drawing to a close, I thought it was necessary to try fit in an extra question, to continue covering a wide range of opinions shared amongst the Lewes fans (and because we’ve only got one Progcast of the season left after this).

In this week’s Vox Pop, I asked two questions to Lewes fans on LewesClamour via Instagram. Here are some of your responses:

Will we make the playoffs?

“Yes and we will win the Prem in 2035” – Reg

“We’ll move ahead of Enfield (their run-in is super hard) but Cray will finish 5th, us 6th” – Chris

“I can see it, Enfield’s form has just about been bad enough for us to sneak in there last minute” – Harvey

“Probably not, but it’s good to dream” – Neil

“I fear the tide is against us. Herne Bay’s last few results have been hugely impressive. I’m expecting a tough one on Friday. I think Enfield will keep 5th spot. The side game is who comes out on top between us, Hastings and Cray. Some real needle there” – Ash

Why do you prefer non-league to professional football?

“You can switch ends at half time” – Charlie

“It’s real football. Premier League supporters are missing out” – Swoop Art

“It’s for the badge, not the money” – Ben

“I love the atmosphere. It feels more inclusive” – Megan

“Closer to the players and better atmosphere” – Fin

“The style of football is as entertaining as watching the EFL. Non-league has changed a lot over the years” – Adrian

“Can’t glory hunt and it’s local so all your mates probably go as well” – Oscar

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“The whole point about football chants is that they are organic and spontaneous, born out of events unfolding at the time, on the pitch or off it. Like a good wisecrack, they come out of nowhere.” – ‘**** ground no fans’, Jack Bremner

Perhaps one of the most notable things during a match, besides the football, is the chants. Some people like them, some people don’t, but it’s hard to argue against its impact across every single football ground around the world. For Lewes, the Youth Wing make it their mission, every game, to provide new chants for the players, to enhance the match day experience for everybody involved. We’ve heard a Ryan Gondoh chant to the tune of ‘Gold’ by Spandau Ballet, as well as a Joe Taylor chant to the tune of ‘Tequila’ by The Champs. Chants can be catchy, powerful, angry, demanding, and a motivational tool to fans and players. But how did they start?

Football chants trace back to the 1880’s, and one of the oldest known chant was produced by Albert T Smith, for Norwich City, titled ‘On the Ball, City’, which is sung by Norwich City fans still to this day. 

Other notable chants such as ‘Play Up, Pompey’ also originated from the beginning of the 20th century. Interestingly, in the 1920’s, some chants originated from popular music hall songs, such as “Kick, Kick, Kick, Kick, Kick it” from “Chick, Chick, Chick, Chick, Chicken” and “Keep the Forwards Scoring” from “Keep the Home Fires Burning”. Why is this significant? It shows how a hundred years ago, fans were making chants from popular songs, just like how fans do to this very day.

Hymns and classical music have played a huge part in the creation of chants. “Guide Me, O Great Redeemer” has seen chants such as “You’re Not Singing Anymore’ adapted from it, and we’ve seen other hymns sung on the terraces, such as ‘Oh When the Saints Go Marching In’.

It is believed that the 1960’s was the era in which football chants began to drastically change, as the rise of youth culture, popular songs played from public announcement systems, and the mixture of international fans at events such as the 1962 World Cup, may have played a part in the evolution of chants, as English fans began to witness the more demanding and intense chanting from South American countries for example.

Football chants will continue to evolve as time goes on, but one things for sure, the ‘Joe Taylor’s Magic’ chant, will always stay the same.

“Traditional terrace humour is dark, unforgiving and vicious, aimed at hurting opposition fans, nasty policemen, big-nosed managers, perverted tight-fisted chairmen, fat players, illegitimate referees… it is humour based on ancient, deep-seated rivalries, a few degrees short of outright hatred.” – ‘**** ground no fans’, Jack Bremner

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Herne Bay was formed in 1886 and began life in the East Kent League, then having a short period in the Kent League before winning the East Kent League in four successive years between 1902 and 1906 returning to the Kent League as a result.

1953 saw the move to Winch’s Field. Over 1,000 spectators saw their first match at their new home; a 2 – 2 draw against Tunbridge Wells Reserves in Kent League Division 2. Within two years they lifted the Division 2 title, winning promotion to Division 1. In the 1957/58 season, the club won The Kent Amateur Cup beating Bromley 2 – 0 in the final. The following season saw the Kent League fold and a move to the Aetolian League followed. The 1964/65 season saw another move to Division 2 of the Athenian League, where they enjoyed several successful seasons followed by promotion to Division 1 on winning Division 2 in 1970/71. A good run in the FA Cup saw the Bay reach the 4th qualifying rounds, where they lost to the then ‘mighty’ Margate in front of a record home attendance of 2,303.

At the start of the 1974/75 campaign, the Club returned to the Kent League, and in the 1978/79 season they had good runs in the Cup competitions; defeating Welling United in the Kent Senior Trophy and losing to Sheppey United in the Kent League Cup. The nineties saw the Club become the most successful and consistent side in the Kent League, winning four Kent League titles. The 1996/97 season was without equal in the history of the Kent League. Within the space of four weeks, the Club won the Kent Senior Trophy, The Kent League Division 1 Cup and The Kent League Championship. A unique treble!

A complete change of management and playing staff took place after the 1997-98 season, with manager Tommy Sampson leaving the Club to take over the reins at Deal Town taking the majority of the established first-team players with him. That Deal Town side became the first Kent League club to win the FA Vase at Wembley in the last ever Vase Final staged at the old stadium in May 2000. The team had a fantastic 2000/01 season finishing runners-up in the Premier Division, scored 93 goals in the league. Nick Denly (father of England cricketer Joe Denly) received an unprecedented three manager of the month awards in his first full season at the helm.

However, the 2001/02 season proved to be one of great disappointment. Exiting all cup competitions at the first round stage and finishing a poor 7th position in the league, despite being one of the few teams to defeat league and cup double winners, Maidstone. A major grant was awarded to provide new perimeter fencing and refurbishment of the changing facilities and these works were complete prior to the start of the 2003/04 season when the club celebrated 50 years at Winch’s Field. Former Gillingham and Maidstone player, Jason Lillis took over the reins for the 2004/05 season which proved to be very successful as Bay finished runners up in both the League and League Cup, losing out to Ramsgate in both competitions.

Both the 2005/06 and 2006/07 seasons proved to be very disappointing and with several senior players, and Jason, leaving the Club during the 2007/08 season, the Club built on the success of Herne Bay Youth with the introduction of a number of very good young players into the first-team squad. This proved very beneficial and these players formed the basis of the first-team squad for this 2008/09 season. Along with some very influential experienced players introduced by the new manager, Barry Morgan, the Club had high hopes for a successful 2008/09 campaign. Unfortunately, a run of five defeats in six matches in October severely dented any promotion prospects. Despite a twelve match winning sequence Bay fell just short at the end of the campaign and a defeat in the final match saw them finish in 6th position in the League. The majority of the young squad were retained for the 2009/10 season and with new sponsors, there was a renewed optimism within the Club.

With the appointment of Simon Halsey as Manager, Herne Bay FC pushed on to finish runners up in the Kent League Premier Division two seasons running, the second of those going down to the last few minutes of the last match where a goal at Tunbridge Wells gave Hythe Town the title. But, in season 2011/12 Herne Bay swept all before them, narrowly missing out on a Wembley appearance in the FA Vase and capturing the Kent League Premier Division title and promotion to the Ryman League.

The 2013/14 season saw another new start for the Bay with Sam Denly (son of former manager Nick Denly) taking up the managerial reigns following a disappointing first season in the Ryman League where immediate relegation back to Step 5 was narrowly avoided. Achieved highest ever finish and points total in the 2014/15 campaign in Herne Bay ‘s third season at this level. The 2015/16 season Bay faired even better, sitting in the play-off position for most of the season and with a number of poor results in March Bay finally finished 8th, surpassing their highest finish in the Isthmian league achieved in the previous season. Retaining all the players for the 2016/17 season Bay expected to achieve a better position, but a number of poor results in the early part of the season set the tone for the rest of the campaign. Bay hovered around relegation zone until late January. The player’s budget was cut and immediately there was an improvement in results. A ten-match unbeaten run saw Bay climb away from the relegation zone with an eventual finish in 17th place. Sam Denly resigned at the end of the season and all of the players left the club. New managers, professional players, John Embery and Jermaine Darlington, were appointed and they have built a totally new side comprising, a large number of very talented young players, along with some experienced older players.

This was the second time in the last 17 years that a totally new side had been formed and to blood these youngsters into what always proves to be a very competitive level of football. the club was delighted with a mid-table finish in 12th place.

For 2018/19, a couple of players moved on but with new signings, Embery was looking for a higher finish, maybe even a shot at reaching the playoffs. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan, with the club fighting against relegation for most of the season. Only a very good run in the latter part saw the club move out of the relegation zone; eventually finishing 15th. Embery and Darlington quit on 30th March. Anthony Deer and Alan Birchard took over with six fixtures still to play. Rumours were rife about the clubs’ future with social media claiming the club was going to fold. Despite these issues a consortium led by the new chairman, Stuart Fitchie, took over the running of the club, bringing in Ben Smith and his backroom staff to manage the team.

Sadly Covid-19 disrupted what could have been a very successful season, as Herne Bay were 5th place with a play-off position looking achievable. 2019/20 was halted with only six league games played, and as things stand in 21/22 a promising start again has us in 6th place dreaming of a record-breaking season.

2021/22 turned out to be a historic year for the Bay as we gained promotion via the playoffs to reach Step 3 level for the first time. Our early season promise faded in January and it looked like we may miss out on the playoffs. However, a strong finish culminated in victories over Haywards Heath in front of 1102 and the MBS Stadium and a 2-0 win at Ashford United in the Final at their ground when our travelling support among 1865 had a day to celebrate.


Marcel Barrington
Centre Forward who played for Cray Valley PM in 21/22 and joined the Bay in the
Summer. Guyana international.

Dan Johnson
DJ has 156 appearances for Bay in his 2 spells at the Club. He re-joined Bay from Bromley when he had also gone on to play for England C.

Hamilton Antonio
A 2nd term at Herne Bay since joining from Walton Casuals during the 21/22. An instant hit in the centre of our midfield, Hamilton has also played for Corinthian Casuals.

Jack Parter
Attack-minded left-back who signed in July 2021 after nearly 300 appearances for Tonbridge Angels. He was a former Gillingham youth player.

Jordan Perrin
Joined from Sittingbourne for the 21/22 promotion-winning season keeping 14 clean sheets. Ex-Wigan Athletic U23s.

Kymani Thomas
Has impressed during the pre-season in a winger role. Only 18 years old, he played recently for Beckenham Town and Dulwich Hamlet U23s.

Laurence Harvey
Captain of the promotion-winning side now in his 4th season since joining from Canterbury City in 2019. Experienced centre-back.

Mike West
Inspiration behind Bay’s promotion after joining on loan from Ebbsfleet. Back with the Bay for 21/22. Ex Crewe Alex & Eastbourne Borough.

Rory Smith
Joined Bay early Nov ‘21 from Ramsgate and scored 8 goals. An attacking midfielder who played for Redlands United in Australia.

Troy Williams
Returns to Herne Bay following a spell with Wingate & Finchley. Originally joined in March 2021 from Braintree Town. Also featured for Grays Athletic, Lewes, and Horsham.

Mason Saunders-Henry
Joined the Bay from Tonbridge Angels. Favoured position is on the wing but capable of playing anywhere across the front. A player who enjoys getting on the front foot.

David Ozobia
Midfielder who signed for the Bay from VCD Athletic. Formerly of Charlton Athletic’s academy setup, and Harrow Borough, David adds extra strength & experience to the middle

Briggs Ojemen
Joined the Bay from Leatherhead. Can play in defence as well as midfield, Briggs also counts Guildford City, Welling United, Romford, and Bromley among his former clubs.

Monty Saunders
Primarily an attacking player, Monty broke into the first team setup this season. Formerly of Ramsgate, Monty also played for the Kent Schools FA squad. Dual registered with Canterbury City.

Finn O’Mara
Signed on a loan deal from Hastings United. Formerly of Gillingham and Folkestone Invicta, the versatile defender can operate at the heart of the defence as well as on the right-hand side.

Emmanuel Martins
Joined on a dual registration deal from Cheshunt. The fullback, who can play further up the pitch, adds versatility and raw skill to the Bay starting eleven. Formerly of Colchester United

Connor Dymond
Former Crystal Palace product joins the Bay from Cray Valley PM, where he previously played under Bay boss Kevin Watson. Dymond perfectly comfortable in defence or midfield.

Harry Brooks
Former VCD Athletic shot-stopper who signed for the Bay while Jordan Perrin was suspended. He made his debut against Brightlingsea Regent, helping his side to a 2-1 win.

Jude Russell
Jude is a former Crystal Palace youth. He was also part of the Under-23 side that clinched promotion to the Premier League 2 Division 1. Signed for the Bay from Brentford B.

Troy Howard
Joined the Bay from SCEFL side Deal Town, having started the 2022/23 campaign with Isthmian League Premier Division rivals Margate. Pacy and versatile wide player.

Jack Sammoutis
Former Millwall academy graduate who signed for the Bay from VCD Athletic. Formerly of Cray Valley PM, Greenwich Borough, Hythe Town, and Walton Casuals, among others.

Donnell Anderson
Formerly of Sutton Athletic, Donnell registered with the Bay midway through the 22/23 Isthmian League Premier Division season. Further improves our current midfield unit.

Daniel Ogunleye
Formerly of Southampton and Forest Green Rovers, Daniel joins the Bay from Assistant Manager Adam Flanagan’s former side Brentwood Town. A tricky forward that offers versatility and pace.



11th October 2022Isthmian Premier LeagueHerne Bay4Lewes1
21st October 2017Isthmian League SouthLewes8Herne Bay 1
12th August 2017Isthmian League SouthHerne Bay0Lewes1
14th January 2017Isthmian League SouthLewes3Herne Bay1
10th January 2017Isthmian League SouthHerne Bay1Lewes4


In the days before we did video highlights, the Rooks romped to a 8-1 victory over Herne Bay in the Isthmian League South. The visitors lead in the 12th minute thanks to a goal from Tom Carlton and it wasn’t until injury time at the end of the first half that the Rooks drew level, with Billy Medlock on hand to tap the ball home. However, the second half saw Lewes blow away the visitors with seven goals on a stormy afternoon. Bouwe Bosma, Jamie Brotherton with 2, one a penalty, a further two for Medlock, Ronnie Conlon and Wilfred Grimaud completed the scoring in front of 472 fans. Pictured thanks to James Boyes.

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We are getting to that time of the year when the county cup competitions come to a climax. This year’s Sussex Senior Cup has been farcical to say the least, with games being delayed for months for what appears to be petty squabbling and points scoring, which means that at the time of writing, the third round still hasn’t been completed and the Semi-Final line up still has six teams on the fixture list rather than four. Our own experience from this season has been painful to say the least, but let’s not dwell on that but instead look at some of the less well-known, but still equally important Senior County Cup Finals due to take place over the next few weeks.

In total there are 46 County Football Associations, each of which can, but not necessarily does, run a senior cup competition. Some Counties do not have any senior (either professional or in Step 1) teams but that still doesn’t stop a competitive cup competition that gives clubs the chance to win some silverware and play a game at a decent ground in front of a decent ground.

So whilst we will have an eye on the Sussex Senior Cup Final in May at the Amex, here’s a couple less well know competitions and who is likely to be walking away with the silverware at the end of the season.

Huntingdonshire Senior Cup FinalYaxley vs St Ives Town

Huntingdonshire is part of Cambridgeshire, located to the north-west, essentially following the A14 then A1 towards Peterborough. Only seven teams entered this season’s competition with Yaxley, of the Northern Premier League Midland Division, receiving a by through to the semi-final, where they beat Eaton Socon to reach the final where they will face St Ives Town, who beat Godmanchester 4-0 in the other semi-final. The final will be on the 25th April at St Neots Town FC. Yaxley haven’t had a season to remember, being the first side in the top eight levels of English football relegated, and have just 5 points to their name after 34 games played.

East Riding Senior Cup FinalHedon Rangers vs Bridlington Town

East Riding is the area of Yorkshire that could be considered the “East” of the country, stretching from the east of York to the North Sea. Nineteen teams entered this season’s competition, the majority of whom are from the Humber Premier League (Step 7 of the pyramid), plus Hull City’s Under23s and Bridlington Town, the highest ranked side, who play in the Northern Premier League Division One East (Step 4). It the favourites from Bridlington who will be in the final at the end of the month, to be played at Hedon Rangers, who beat Hull City on penalties in the Semi-Final.

Norfolk Senior Cup FinalTBC

We’ve all heard of Norfolk but with only two relatively senior sides, it is considered an open competition every year, with recent winners including Gorleston, Norwich United, Mulbarton Wanderers and Dereham Town. In fact it will be three of these for (swap Norwich United for Wroxham) who will compete in the semi-finals this year for a chance of a game at Carrow Road, home of Norwich City in early May. The Canaries have only won the competition twice in the last 25 years.

Sheffield and Hallamshire Senior Cup FinalMaltby Main vs Emley

Sheffield and Hallam – the two oldest football clubs in the world. So it is no surprise they have their own County FA and Senior Cup competition, which dates back to 1867 when The Wednesday beat Heeley at Bramall Lane in front of an estimated 8,000. Today the competition is only open to sides at Step 3 and below, meaning no Wednesday or United. Thirty two teams entered this years competition including Oughtibridge War Memorial, St Joseph’s Rockware of Worksop and Ecclesfield Red Rose, with last season’s beaten finalists Maltby Main and Emley in the final, to be played in May at either Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium or Rotherham United’s New York Stadium.

Walsall Senior Cup FinalChasetown vs Rushall Olympic

Another sub-set of a bigger county, the Walsall Senior Cup is a very competitive competition, with 17 sides entering including Walsall’s Under23s, who received a walkover in the quarter-final to set up a semi-final against Chasetown of the Northern Premier League. Alas they missed the opportunity to get through to the final, and have home advantage, against Rushall Olympic, playing at Step 3 in the Southern Premier League Central.

West Riding Senior Cup Final – Campion vs Liversedge

The West Riding of Yorkshire snakes up the middle of the country, from Doncaster all the way up to Cumbria, skirting around Manchester. Twenty six teams entered this season’s competition including FC Halifax Town and Bradford (Park Avenue) but it has been the underdogs who have enjoyed the competition, with Step 6 Campion the first to reach the final where they will meet last season’s winners Liversedge. The final is set to be held at Brighouse Town in early May.

Alas, there’s a few County FA’s who no longer run a senior cup, including Cornwall, Devon and Westmoreland, whilst other FA affiliations mean some clubs get to play in two tournaments such as those affiliated to the London FA and Kent/Surry or Middlesex. It’s a strange old game.

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Lewes came from behind twice to salvage a draw at Margate, but were unable to close the gap on the play-off places on a rainy afternoon in Kent.

Tony Russell made one change to the side that beat Potters Bar Town 2-1 in their previous game, with Tyrique Hyde returning from injury and replacing Archie Tamplin in the starting line-up. 

This change saw Ayo Olukoga move to right-back, with Hyde playing in an advanced role in midfield.

Margate made a bright start and took the lead after three minutes, the unmarked Sam Blackman heading a Ben Greenhalgh free-kick past Lewis Carey and into the top corner.

Lewes soon grew into the game though, keeping the ball well and beginning to stretch the Margate defence.

The Rooks equalised on 16 minutes through Hyde, who found space down the right-hand side of the penalty area before beating Margate goalkeeper Daniel Jinadu at his near post with a powerful strike to send the travelling fans into raptures.

Margate regained their lead just four minutes later, a corner from the right causing mayhem in the Lewes penalty area before eventually being forced over the line by Ruben Soares-Junior.

Lewes came close to an immediate response, Alfie Young heading a Razz Coleman De-Graft corner over the bar.

The Rooks scored a second equaliser on 34 minutes, an excellent passing move ending with Ryan Gondoh crossing from the left and Joe Taylor sending a sublime flicked finish past Jinadu and into the far corner.

After an entertaining, end-to-end first half, the second saw very few chances for either side, with Lewes dominating possession but finding it difficult to turn this into clear-cut opportunities.

Set-pieces provided their best chance of a third goal, a De-Graft corner from the left being helped back across goal by Will Salmon at the far post, before eventually being scrambled clear.

Minutes later, a goal-bound free-kick from Young was headed clear by Greenhalgh when it seemed destined for the top corner.

Margate briefly threatened themselves, Carey racing off his line to save bravely at the feet of Harvey Smith as he ran onto a Greenhalgh through-ball.

The Rooks continued to see more of the ball late on, but were unable to build up a real spell of pressure, meaning they had to settle for a point and leaving them four points adrift of the play-off with four games remaining.

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Last year on our trip to Margate, we were greeted with sunshine, beer and a calm sea. This year, we were greeted with sideways rain, free entry to the crab museum and even more beer… and shots…and beer.

After a 7 am start, I jumped into the Hottingermobile with Dom and raced to Lewes. If there was a time where I was fearing for my life, it wasn’t from the stormy weather, high waves, or the threatening looking crocodile (that I mistook for a dinosaur) that greeted us in the ground, it was in this car journey to Lewes, to get us to the train station on time. It was like something out of Hot Fuzz, but instead of a swan in the back, it was me.

We made the train, and after 2 and a half hours, we were finally in Dreamland. The Youth Wing were in different groups across Margate. 4 of the boys were there already to swim, and experience the beach sauna. The London Lewes Loyal travelled around the same time as we did, but were on separate trains, enjoying some mid-morning Bucks Fizz, and my group were on the train with fellow Lewes fan Alec, who informed us he had only missed 4 Lewes games since 2010. Incredible effort. 

After a quick visit to the Crab museum, where we witnessed a crab claw the size of a small car, we stopped by the Barnacles, to then make our way over to Spoons, where all the boys united. This was it. After several rounds of shots, we walked to the ground, the buzz was in the air, as we made it to the ground with lots of time to spare (or so we thought), as the queue for the bar felt like a ticking time bomb. Every minute that went by, I just wanted to get outside. 

Within just a few minutes, we were 1 nil down from an indirect free kick. Great start. Hyde equalised for us, and sent the Lewes fans into raptures, as he found space in the defence, to smash it past the keeper. Not that much later, Margate scored from another set piece, and somehow, despite being in control of the game, we found ourselves 2-1 down. 

Then, Gondoh, coming in from the left wing put the ball into Taylor, for Taylor to back heel the ball past the keeper, to send us into celebrations again. Limbs. Taylor ran past the Margate fans holding his hand next to his ear. If there’s one thing Taylor can do well besides scoring, it’s celebrating. I heard there were a few Margate fans giving Taylor stick, so a celebration like that is only fair enough. 

The first half ended 2-2. We were all thinking, if there were 4 goals in the first half, how many would there be in the second? It was hard not to be pumped up. The rain started lashing down, and as I collected my second half pint and started to head over to the away end, I looked over at the tin shed, and realised it was packed tighter than a tin of crab sticks with Lewes fans. It was a glorious sight. This was the best away support of the season. 

Unfortunately, despite all the incredible chants and atmosphere that was created by the Lewes fans, the second half wasn’t up to scratch, with a lack of creativity by Lewes to find a third goal. The game finished 2-2, and we find ourselves in the same position we were in before the game, as Enfield and Cray drew. 

It is certainly not over. Enfield’s remaining fixtures give us a decent chance of catching up, whilst we also need Cray to drop points too. Cray have Herne Bay and Kingstonian to play, who are both fighting to stay up. There’s every chance either of them may get a result there, so keep the faith.

The train home was an eventful one for me, as I fell asleep in the wrong carriage, and when I woke up, I was in West Worthing. I got off and walked for about 20 minutes, until I realised that I had absolutely no idea where on earth where I was. Phone’s dead. No one’s around. Worst of all, I was in Worthing. If a Worthing fan saw me, I’d be toast, as I was roaming the streets of Worthing in my Lewes colours in the middle of the night. Thankfully, a cab eventually drove past, and I was able to get a ride home, at the reasonable price of £70 of course, to eventually walk through my front door at the even more reasonable time of 1:30 am. I had been out of the house for 20 hours. That’s Margate away for you. See you at the next one. Follow @LewesClamour on Instagram or Twitter for more match day reports.

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The two top scoring sides in the Pitching In Isthmian Premier clashed at the Camping World Community Stadium. Leaders Hornchurch were without a win in three as they headed to eighth place Horsham with a one point advantage at the top- but they had a very good start, Tom Wraight opening the scoring on six minutes. The Hornets drew level seven minutes before the break, Charlie Hester-Cook delighting the home fans, but immediately after the restart Liam Nash restored the leaders lead. They could have extended it, a Sam Higgins goal controversially disallowed for offside- however the tide of the match then turned, and with seven minutes left Jack Mazzone levelled for the Hornets. It then got worse for the visitors, as Mazzone added a third for the hosts- and the Urchins fans had not only seen a lead turn into defeat for the second weekend in succession, they had also seen their side removed from the summit. Horsham hadn’t defeated Hornchurch in six attempts, but it was very much lucky number seven. One thousand, two hundred and ninety eight watched on, and most of them were delighted.

Second place Bishop’s Stortford were on the road to South London, where they faced Carshalton Athletic– and they had a perfect start, talisman Frankie Merrifield opening the scoring after just five minutes- his twenty second of the season. Soon after the restart the Blues added another, Harry Beadle with their second, and the side with the best defence in the Division held on comfortably to take three points and return to the summit. That’s two two-nil wins over the Robins for the Blues this season.

Canvey Island closed to within two points of the top with victory at Wingate & Finchley. The Gulls delivered a sucker punch after a goalless first half, adding two goals in four minutes to take total control. Bradley Sach got the first, Conor Hubble headed home the second, and that turned out to be that. The Gulls are level on points with the Urchins- and with the Millers.

Aveley have a cup final to look forward to next week, but in the meantime still had their eyes on automatic promotion as they made the relatively short trip to Haringey Borough. The Millers travelled with an eleven match unbeaten run behind them, and were quickly ahead, Harry Gibbs taking only three minutes to break the duck. They seemed to have made sure five minutes from time, Oli Coker making it two, but the hosts then struck back, Ben Allen converting from the spot. Despite their best efforts, however, that was as good as it got for Borough- and Aveley completed a double.

Fifth place Enfield Town welcomed sixth place Cray Wanderers in what was perhaps our match of the day. Four points was the gap between the two sides at kick off, so the match was particularly crucial for Wands- but they didn’t have the best of starts, Adam Cunnington putting the Towners ahead after just six minutes to delight most of the five hundred and thirty five watching on. It took another seventy five minutes before the contest had another goal, and the second one went to the visitors, Harrison Sodje levelling for Wands. That was that, both sides ending the day where they started it- and with only four games left that’s undoubtedly better for the Towners than the Wands.

Herne Bay had only managed to defeat Hastings United once in their last nine attempts, and within twenty one minutes at Pilot Field it looked likely that the stat could be changed to one in ten, as United were two goals up- Joe Gbode and Craig Stone with the goals. Bay then hit back, Jerson Dos Santos with his first goal for his new club, and suddenly it was two-two, Marcell Barrington continuing his fine run and scoring for the third game in a row, his fifteenth of the campaign. Just before the break the home fans were silenced as Dos Santos added a third to complete the comeback, but the next act went the way of the hosts, Jack Dixon levelling on sixty three minutes. That turned out to be that, a point each not really the outcome that either set of fans in the eight hundred and seventy three watching on could be happy with. Bay drop a place to twentieth, and are four points from safety.

Folkestone Invicta’s promotion hopes had evaporated with defeats in their last three matches; whilst visiting Kingstonian’s survival hopes had been severely hampered by defeat in their last four- and things didn’t look good for the visitors when Ira Jackson opened the scoring from the spot just before the break. The K’s struck back, however, Hugo Odogwo-Atkinson levelling soon after the restart, and eight minutes later they went ahead, Darnell Goather-Braithwaite delighting the travelling contingent. When David Nyarko added a third five minutes from time there was even more delight, as the K’s are three points clear of the bottom four.

Bognor Regis Town and Billericay Town met in a mid-table match between two sides who had failed to achieve what their supporters hoped for them this season. The Rocks had followed a W-L pattern for their last six matches, and it looked like that would extend to a seventh when Imran Uche put the visitors ahead seven minutes after half time. That turned out to be the case, Billericay twelfth, the Rocks fourteenth.

Potters Bar Town had dropped from first to thirteenth over the last few months, and had won only two of their last twenty- so it wasn’t entirely a surprise when relegation-threatened Corinthian-Casuals took the lead on the stroke of half time at the Lantern Stadium, Finley Lovatt with the opener. That was the only goal of the game, and it keeps alive Casuals slim survival chances- they are ten points from safety with four games left.

Finally, we had a critical match between two of the bottom three as Brightlingsea Regent hosted Bowers & Pitsea. Twelve points away from safety, Regent knew that another defeat could relegate them, and they didn’t have the best of starts, Brandon Aviero scoring his fourth Bowers goal in his seventh Bowers game after just six minutes. It was two-nil just after the half hour, Montrell Deslandes making life more comfortable for the visitors, and that was that- Bowers closing to within three points of safety, Regent’s relegation confirmed.

On Wednesday night, Aveley won the Velocity Isthmian League Cup, beating Potters Bar Town on a rain lashed Parkside pitch 3-0.

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Back in 1992/93 the Premier League launched, but with a couple of notable absentees. OK, so I may be slightly biased to say one was West Ham United, but also missing was Newcastle United, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City. So instead of the razzmatazz of the bright shiny new age of football, the League One (as was the second tier back then) sides played in the reformed Anglo-Italian cup as compensation.

The competition was based on both the English and Italian sides playing their own mini groups in the first round, before they were paired together in the second phase. West Ham became the last English side to progress based on their fate being decided on the toss of a coin, having finished in their group with an identical record to Bristol Rovers. In the second stage they were drawn in a group with Pisa, Reggiana, Cosenza and Cremonese. The games weren’t without their challenges. The crowds were really poor – just 7,000 saw the Hammers take on Pisa, the away game in Cosenza saw just 800 fans, whilst the trip to eventual winners of the tournament, Cremonese, saw 1,600 spectators.

That was my one and only point of reference with US Cremonese before this season. At the time I had wanted to travel to Italy to see the game but the club trip was exorbitant – if only there was some inside information about how to travel overseas to watch football back then! They had last been in Serie A in 1996, dropping down as far as the fourth tier at the turn of the century. But in May 2022 they returned to Serie A, finishing as runners-up in Serie B.

It is fair to say that the return may be short-lived. It has taken them 24 games to get their first victory, a 2-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma although it is a surprise that they are still only 6 points from safety despite only having 12 points. So now was the perfect time to take in a trip to see I Grigiorossi (The Gray and Reds) before they return from where they came.

Task number one was to find Cremonese on the map. Well, you can’t. They hail from the city of Cremona, Lombardy, not to be confused with the town of Crema, Lombardy, just a twenty minute drive up the road. Task number two – find a suitable game to attend – with a relatively small capacity stadium (20,600), and an easily accessible location from the major cities in the north of Italy (Milan, Turin, Bologna, Florence), tickets for some games would be at a premium, as well as one that could be reached without an overnight stay. Task number three…book it!

For some reason the concept of doing a day trip to Italy to watch football seemed strange to many. The flight times and costs were perfect, and whilst we opted to hire a car, we could have done the trip by train. Every weekend there’s opportunities for day trips to Italy, Germany, Spain and even further afield if you put the research effort in.

Everything was going to plan. Tickets had been nabbed as soon as they went on sale, Danny had managed to get from Gatwick Train Station to the gate in less than 15 minutes, the flight landed 30 mins early due to strong tail winds over the Alps, the sun was shining and our hire car was ready and waiting for us.

We headed north to start, trying to find a magic door at Como 1907’s stadium, Stadio Giuseppe Sinigaglia. Located on the shores of Lake Como, there are few more scenic locations to watch football in Europe. Alas, there was no way in. Despite rattling a few doors, alerting the security guards to our presence, there was no way in. One to return to on match day, and definitely one that can be done on a day trip to/from Milan Malpensa.

So we headed south then east(ish), eating up the relatively empty Italian motorways. Just outside Piacenza we pulled into some services for some food. None of your greasy burgers here. A double espresso and a toasted mortadella and mozzarella focaccia was the order of the day. We got back in the car with our lunch and pulled back onto the road.

No more than 50 yards down the road the bottom half of my lunch collapsed and fell on the floor. I pulled over onto the hard shoulder and tried to recover as much as possible. Dan tapped me on the shoulder and I looked up to see the first police car in our 90 minute drive so far pulling in, with its lights on in front of us. It’s illegal to stop on the hard shoulder on Italian motorways unless it is an emergency. A dusty sandwich isn’t going to be included in that bracket.

Now was the time for quick thinking as the police car door started to open. I waved, gave a thumbs up and started to indicate to go back on the road. Panic over, they saw my intentions and sped off. Had they asked us to stop we quickly came up with a plan. There was a wasp in the car, I am allergic to them and thus we pulled over to get rid of it rather than me slumping over the wheel in anaphylaxis. One for the memory bank for next time.

Cremona is the home of the violin. and the birthplace of Antonio Stradivari (add a “ous” to the end to work out what he gave his name to). We chuckled at signs for the Museum of Violins but it is a serious business in these parts, or at least that is what it seemed with so many police at the toll booths and on major roundabouts. That or they were waiting for the few thousand Il Viola fans who were making the 3 hour journey up from Tuscany.

Stadio Giovanni Zini is located near the main train station to the north of the historic centre of Cremona. We were early enough to get a decent parking spot little more than a 10 minute walk away. There was certainly a different feel to Cremonese than other Serie A grounds – whether than was from the apparent older age of the fans making their way into the ground, or the lack of any real fan engagement outside – one pop up stand and one food outlet, poor in comparison to what you see at Torino, Monza or Bologna.

We made our way in, having a decent view of the action from the corner of the Distinti. The Fiorentina fans had indeed come in their numbers and had the whole of the open air Curva Nord, filling it with their purple-ness. Next to us, in the Curva Sud was Le Tigri, the tigers of Cremonese, the hardcore fans who welcomed the teams onto the pitch with a few flares, flags, scarves and their own version of Take Me Home, Country Roads. They still had belief, they still had hope.

The away side had a chance in the first 90 seconds but Dessers headed over, and that was the tone for the opening half hour minutes: Fiorentina would make a mistake at the back and Cremonese would hurl numbers forward but never quite get it right, despite the away side being there for the taking. It was entertaining stuff alright and just before the 30 minute mark we got the first goal. A sweeping move from the edge of their own box eventually saw the ball fall favourably to Ikoné fifteen yards out and he smashed it home.

The second half was less than five minutes old when Fiorentina doubled their lead. A neat interchange of passing saw Mandragora through on goal and he squared the ball for Cabral to tap home. Game over. Whilst Cremonese tried to find a way through, that final ball was always just not there. The frustration of their whole season could be seen in the final ten minutes of so near, yet so far passages of play and it was with quiet resignation that the home fans streamed out into the sunshine at the full-time whistle as “Just Can’t Get Enough” optimistically blared out over the PA.

We had an hour to kill post match so went into the historic centre, which like so many hidden gems in Italy, was amazing. The musical history was everywhere and after a Caffe Violini and a violin-shaped pastry, we headed back to the car and our return flight back home. A long, but very rewarding and enjoyable day.

There’s a number of clubs you can easily do on a day trip from London assuming the kick-off times align. Milan, Turin, Bologna, Napoli, Salerna, Rome, Bergamo (Atalanta), Genoa and Verona to name but a few. Tickets for most games are easy to arrange – you just need a keep an eye out for when they go on sale and on what ticketing website.

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The Cook Islands is a self-governing island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand. It comprises 15 islands whose total land area is 240 square kilometres and football is about an alien concept to the inhabitants as skyscrapers and air pollution is. This is rugby world, with the Cook Islands taking part, and losing to England in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup (played in 2022 due to COVD), as well as the Commonwealth Games Rugby 7’s last year.

Football wasn’t played seriously but in 1971 they were allowed to enter a team in the South Pacific Games, and perhaps soon wished they didn’t, losing 16-1 to Papua New Guinea, 15-1 to Fiji and then a record, at the time, defeat to Tahiti 30-0.

It would be nearly 25 years before they would play as a national side again, losing 9-0 to New Calendonia but a few days later they recorded their first ever win, a 2-1 victory over Wallis and Futuna Island. Normal service was resumed 2 days later with a 16-0 defeat to Solomon Islands.

They’ve lost 17-0 and 16-0 to Australia in the OFC championship twice but have also managed a couple of wins, including beating fellow rugby playing islands Samoa and Tonga a few times. They started qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with two wins but then defeat against American Samoa saw them eliminated. They played the 2022 qualifying tournament in Qatar but COVID decimated the tournament, with games against Tonga, Tahiti and Vanuatu cancelled, then a defeat against the Solomon Islands seeing them eliminated.

The current squad mainly play on the islands in the Cook Island Round Cup where the current champion is Tupapa Maraerenga. The team are coached by Brit Alan Taylor, not the former West Ham striker, but the 79 year old former Blackpool and Southport goal keeper. The national stadium is the 5,000 capacity “multi-use” Tereora Stadium in the national capital of Avarua, population 4,906, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Remote is an understatement for the Cook Islands. Their nearest neighbour is the island of Niue, some 700 miles away.

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About Nyewood Lane
Nyewood Lane is a picturesque ground that has an open feel to it. One end is overlooked by ‘Seasons”, the clubhouse and has a small open terrace in front. Opposite is a small covered terrace, at the Sports Club End, which has a small electric scoreboard on its roof. On the North side of the ground is a small covered terrace, being a few steps high, which runs for around half the length of the pitch. On the other side is the new Main Stand, constructed 18 months ago and is a smart addition to an already excellent non-league ground.

How to get to Nyewood Lane
From Lewes head west on the A27 all the way to the Fontwell Roundabout and take the A29, the second exit, passing the racecourse on your right-hand side. Continue to follow the A29 towards Bognor Regis town centre, passing over numerous roundabouts until you get to South Bersted and the roundabout where the B2259 intersects.  Take the fourth exit and then the third left into Hawthorn Road.  After ½ mile just after passing the Co-Op on your right-hand side, take a left into Nyewood Lane and the ground is 200 yards on the right-hand side.  Journey time around an hour from Lewes (38 miles).

There is ample on-street parking in Nyewood Lane and surrounding roads. There is also free parking available within the Bognor Sports Club, via the entrance in Hawthorn Road. There is a turnstile giving access into the ground from this car park and you will also find a bar within the Sports Club which you are very welcome to use.

If coming by train (approx. 90 minutes and at least one change at Brighton), either take a taxi (approx. cost £4.50) or if walking, turn right out of Bognor Regis station and walk along Linden Road until you reach Parklands Avenue, where there is a footpath on your left (opposite Town Cross Avenue) that leads all the way to the entrance of the football club – should take around 15 minutes to walk.

Admission at Nyewood Lane
Admission this season is £13 for adults, £10 for concessions (senior citizens and students), Under18s £5 and accompanied under16s free of charge. There’s an extra £1 charge to sit in the main stand

Fancy a beer?
The nearest pub to the ground is The Wheatsheaf, which is a pub-restaurant chain, on Hawthorn Lane, about five minutes away from the ground.  The pub of choice in the past has been the Wetherspoons outlet, the Hatters Inn on the corner of Queensway and West Street. The bar at the ground is also pretty decent.

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#1. On this day in 1988, Alan Shearer broke which record?

#2. On this day in 1994, what did Gazza do?

#3. On this day in 2010, Arsenal took the lead in the Camp Nou in the Champions League Quarter Final against Barcelona to make the aggregate score 3-2 in their favour. But what was the final score over the two games?

#4. On this day in 2007, which current League One side beat Manchester United in the Premier League?

#5. On this day in 2018, The Rooks won 3-1 at Corinthian-Casuals. Who was in goal for Lewes?

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This one of our favourite awaydays of the season, and, judging by the number of Rooks fans who travelled the not insignificant distance to Margate, it’s high up on their list too. It would have been even better if the fixture computer had spat out a schedule with this one in the warmer months at the very beginning of the season.

We’re not sure why we like it so much. Maybe it’s memories of summer holidays here in bygone days, Dreamland and Only Fools and Horses. Or maybe it’s the wonderful 6-2 victory last season when Ollie Tanner ran riot through the Margate defence. The poor young lad at right back that day probably still has nightmares about that game. It’s not the greatest ground in the league when it rains as there’s not a lot of cover at the ends, and when there is a sizeable away following it gets quite cosy in their little metal stand behind the goal. We’ve never really found a good Stodgebuster type café in Margate either. Until today that is. In the past we have tried the pub outside the station and a chippy along the front. Both weren’t very good.

It’s a long old journey on the train. Over two and a half hours. Treasurer Al would be tearing his hair out if he had come along. But it is through some very scenic Sussex and Kent countryside, and at seventeen quid a head even us old tightwads don’t think it is too expensive. Taking the London route is much more expensive, and one doesn’t have to be a Mastermind Champion to see why that route is the train companies default when selling tickets.

Steve was jet lagged so couldn’t make it. Neither could Treasurer Al who had family commitments. PJ often jokes that if certain members of his extended family come visiting it would actually be a good reason to be out. Well, we assume he’s joking. He had to wriggle/bribe his way out of a nightmare day at Gunwharf Quays for this one, after having the “it’s only one game” line thrown at him by his beloved. She doesn’t understand. As Bill Shankly once said:

 “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”

And so, it came to pass that Gary and PJ were on the 10.15 from Lewes bound for Eastbourne, joined by club stalwarts Roger and Jim, and a sprinkling of others decked out in red and black. Roly joined the party at Polegate as usual. A quick change at Eastbourne and onto the Ashford International service. Now it was time for the sweets. From having nothing last time out, we had all remembered this time. We were spoiled with a choice of lemon sherberts, jelly babies and dolly mixtures. We know how to live.

For once the train journey was faultless with no involuntary April Foolery from the train companies. We pulled into Margate pretty much on time. Roger and Jim went off in search of a pub while we made our way along the seafront, past the rather tired looking Dreamland, en-route to the new, for us, restaurant that PJ had painstakingly researched. We passed the chippy we had ventured into during a previous visit to find it was closed down and boarded up. No surprise there. It had been one of the few establishments where we have had cause to complain.

We were going to give The Beano café a bash. How unusual that we would be visiting two separate cafes called The Beano on consecutive awaydays. Maybe it’s a Kent thing. This one had a whole shelf of Beano annuals dating back to the 70’s on display. That took us back, although we were never really into the Beano. We were more into Scorcher and Score, and Tiger, with Roy Of The Rovers. Just how did Roy Race play top level football for forty years? Anyway, we found ourselves in a very traditional seaside family restaurant serving up very traditional seaside family fare such as fish ‘n’ chips, grills and dinners. It looked right up our street. It also looked like organised chaos with what looked like not enough staff running around trying to serve everyone. There was a bit of a delay, but we were served up with three slightly differing All Day Breakfasts. Jolly nice it was too, apart from the bread and butter where one almost had to put it under a microscope to see the butter. But that was only a minor quibble. The cook came over and asked if everything was ok, which we thought was a nice touch and secured the tip. We gave it a 9 on the Stodgebuster scale and will happily revisit next season.

Google maps recommended a shortcut to the ground across the park. In horseracing terms the Going would officially be declared as Heavy by the Clerk of the Course so we stuck to the tarmac.

We all fancied nicking a win here. With games running out we needed a win and hoped that Enfield v Cray ended all square.

Things didn’t start that well. Only three minutes had elapsed when a free kick was launched into our box and, yet again, an attacking head got to it seemingly without much competition and planted it in the net, much to the delight of the home support and their ever-present screeching lady with the drum. Who was supposed to be marking him? It would be interesting to see how many goals like that we have conceded from set pieces this season. We weren’t disappointed for too long, though, as a lovely little flick by Joe Taylor put Tyrique Hyde through on goal. Although it was a tight angle, he finished it beautifully and ran over to where we were celebrating for a group hug. Cue a number of the Lewes contingent joining in behind us spilling their beer everywhere.

Honestly, it was like being in the front row of a Six Nations scrum. One-all, that’s better. Lewes had looked by far the better footballing team and the equaliser was well deserved. Now let’s get in front. It looked like we would too with the way we were playing. But not everything happens the way it should. As battle-hardened Lewes supporters we should have known that. We won a corner. It was a poor corner, and we surrendered possession with everyone forward. Margate tore away on the break, and we were thankful to Lewis Carey for tipping a shot around the post for a corner. All from our corner! We don’t like corners. We get more nervous at corners than a government minister facing an ethics committee. The ball came over. At least it wasn’t another free header, but before anyone could say “clear the ****** thing” it was in our net after a bit of a scramble in the box. “Oh fiddlesticks” and other expletives could be heard among the away contingent.

Still, plenty of time to go, we were playing well, making openings and it looked like we could score more. We equalised again on 34 minutes when Ryan Gondoh went down the left and his low cross into the six-yard area wasn’t cut out. Joe Taylor performed an audacious back heel to level it up. You beauty! He then emulated Tyrique and came over to us for another group hug resulting in another scene not too dissimilar to the mosh pit at an AC/DC gig. And it rained beer again.

We really fancied ourselves to go on and win it in the second half. The rain and the excellent number of travelling Rooks fans meant it got quite cosy in the aforementioned all metal stand. PJ joked that he had enjoyed the goal celebrations so much that he hoped we scored at least a couple more. The atmosphere within that stand was superb with the Youth Wing in full voice. Unfortunately, although we were playing all the football, the expected assault on the Margate goal never really materialised. The home keeper provided us with some entertainment by kicking the ball straight out of play in the same spot by the bench time after time. Whatever tactic that was it wasn’t working. Margate had shown a rather strange, unambitious approach to the entire game by employing a ridiculous amount of timewasting tactics from the off. It got very silly near the end when the main culprit, their number 14, went down after a light brush with his own keeper who we swear used the words “stay down”. He eventually got up after the physio had wasted a tin of spray on him, and he ambled towards the touchline like an asthmatic tortoise, stopping once to pull up his socks that didn’t need pulling up. Even the ref had had enough and booked him for what we term “extracting the urine”. Our jeers turned to cheers, and the arms wide gesticulation of “Whats That For?” only added to the stick we were giving him. He could conceivably have been sent off barely a minute later for booting the ball away at a free kick. Pathetic really considering they weren’t even winning.

It ended as a Desmond. Two-two. A bit disappointing as Cray had done us a favour and had got a draw at Enfield. So, it’s as we were but with one game less to play which obviously makes things tougher to reach a playoff place.

It was a faultless journey home although the connections weren’t great with a bit of standing around waiting for trains. The hot chocolate, coffee and three Tunnocks’ Caramel Wafers, (a Stodgebuster favourite), went down well at Margate station whilst waiting. Fair play to the youth wing. One could still hear strains of “Lewes!, Lewes!” as we exited Lewes station a shade after 9pm. PJ got home exactly twelve hours and eight minutes after he had set out, smelling of beer although he hadn’t drunk a drop. It had been a smashing Jolly Boys (and Girls) outing with all the Lewes fans. Just a shame we didn’t get all three points. That would have made the day Luvly Jubbly.

The Stodgebusters will return at Bognor.

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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, Trevor Wells
Chief Executive Officer Maggie Murphy
Club Secretary John Peel
Fan Engagement Manager Shrey Nilvarna
Youth Secretary Ryan Sullivan
Operations Manager James Barker
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 and Stan Lahood
Club Photographer James Boyes

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  1. After having made two substitute appearances in the League for Southampton Alan Shearer made his starting debut for the Saints against Arsenal at the Dell and at 17 years 240 days of age became the youngest player to score a hat-trick in the top flight. Southampton won 4-2
  2. Gazza suffered another career threatening injury came on April 7th 1994 with a broken leg suffered in a training incident when with Lazio, an injury that saw him miss nearly all of the 1994/95 season.
  3. After Nicklas Bendtner had given Arsenal an aggregate lead over Barcelona in the Champions League Quarter-Finals the 93,330 Nou Camp crowd witnessed a Lionel Messi masterclass. He scored all four goals in Barcelona’s 4-1 (6-3 aggregate) victory.
  4. On this day in 2007, Portsmouth blew the Premier League title race wide open as they beat Manchester United at Fratton Park thanks to goals from Benjani and a Rio Ferdinand own goal.
  5. Max Huxter made his one and only Rooks appearance at Corinthian-Casuals on the 7th April 2018, coming in for Chris Winterton who had an exam.
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