Saturday 15th April 2023 3pm – The Isthmian Premier League – The Dripping Pan, Lewes
Welcome to The Dripping Pan for this afternoon’s Isthmian Premier League game against Haringey Borough. Here is your complimentary e-programme.
JOIN THE TEAM & BECOME AN OWNER TODAY!
NOTES FROM THE CHAIR
Good afternoon everyone and welcome back to the Dripping Pan for this afternoon’s Isthmian Premier League game against our visitors from Haringey Borough. I’d like to welcome the fans, players, management and officials from North London and hope they enjoy our off the field hospitality today.
Last weekend was a real rollercoaster of emotion for anyone following the Rooks. We appeared totally in control against Herne Bay at half-time, so much so a fellow director reminded me of our previous meeting at the Pan when we had gone 1-0 only to score seven in the second half. We had the opportunities to put the game to bed but somehow we let them back in it. It was a flat Friday night that’s for sure. But other results still kept us in it and you couldn’t have asked for a better response on Monday when we blew Bognor away.
We know a top five spot isn’t in our hands and I am sure some fans will look back in anger at some of the draws. But for every disappointing 2-2 there’s been the superb away wins at Bishop’s Stortford and Enfield Town. We’ve only lost two games out of eleven played against the teams above us. We’ve beaten Stortford and Enfield twice. It’s been a fantastic season with a superb group of players and we will not give up until we can fight no longer.
The two disappointing incidents at Bognor were the sending off of Deon and the beer throwing incident. Addressing the former, there was no doubt Deon was provoked, with Calvin Davies playing to the officials to get Deon sent off. The officials saw him raise his hands and that’s a red card unfortunately. Davies can count himself lucky he only saw a yellow.
Joe Taylor’s record breaking goal saw some wild celebrations but unfortunately someone decided to throw a cup of beer at the referee. Harmless fun you may think? Well, we have been charged by the FA and at the very minimum will be fined. Depending on evidence from Bognor and the referee the sanctions could be worse. I hope whoever the culprit was is proud of their actions as it tarnished our reputation and took some gloss of the win.
On Wednesday we also witnessed vandalism on our 3G with fences broken and someone setting fire to the portaloo. I’m sure those responsible will also claim it is “harmless fun” but once again, these are costs the club can ill-afford.
As this is almost certainly our last home game of the season (miracles do happen but it will take the miracle of miracles for it to happen), I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has supported the team home and away this season. Our following has been brilliant and the interaction with the players has been fantastic to see. To the players – thank you. You have represented the club superbly and I know some of you won’t be back here next season, and wish you good luck wherever you go. The management team are the best I have ever worked with and we hope we can continue the evolution of what we have achieved so far next season, so Tony, Joe, Nathan, Grant, Vik, Hendo and Toni a massive thanks for all you have done.
There’s dozens more I could thank, from the tireless work of the Supporters Club, to the staff and volunteers. Brian, who funds the player of the match awards out of his own pocket, which makes up for some of the strange choices on occasion. Boysie and his superb pictures. Stan (Lewes Clamour) for his contributions and stepping up when we needed help on the progcast. The list goes on – everyone contributing to make the club so fantastic.
The summer is a time for change in football and I am sure there will be some surprises, both good and not so good (depending on how you view things!). The show goes on, we are mere actors on the stage.
Come on you Rooks!
Good afternoon and welcome back to the Pan.
Easter weekend, not sure where to start, if I’m honest!
I guess we see in them two games over Easter a good a summary of the season. Good for 90% of it, players getting injured, some excellent football. We scored a lot and could have scored more but came up short of the points we wanted. Season of 22/23 in a nutshell…
I love working with this group; I really do. They are so talented, and one of the best changing rooms I have worked in. A real mix of characters that somehow makes for a great environment to come and enjoy football. However, for all their undoubted talent, I have never worked with a group who have the ability to somehow not win a football match when they are in so much control of it. They seem to find a way! On Friday, we went 3-1 up, and Herne Bay was out on their feet. I could feel it from the pitch side; we had moved them around, and it had taken its toll on them. We had the chance to get a 4th, and I honestly think if one of them had gone in, we would have scored 6-7. We were in complete control. Hydey & Will both have to come off injured, then out of nothing, the right back over hits a cross, and the ball loops over Lew.
We had been good for 75mins then, as we have done too many times this season we don’t deal with the setback well. They go on and make it 3-3, and it takes the wind out of our sails. Full credit to Herne Bay for never giving up, I know the management team well, and they and the players are having to deal with a lot right now, so it would have been easy for them to roll over and get beat 6-7, but they didn’t so fair play to all involved. For us, it’s a story we have seen far too often, I’m afraid. We have only lost eight league games this season, that’s the joint lowest in the league, but the draws have cost us. Out of the 14 or so draws, I would say 6 were fair draws. The rest are games we should have won, and when you add them points on, you can’t help but think what could have been, but I guess the class of 22/23 will be remembered for that stat.
Loads of talent
Play great football
Score lots of goals
Draw games they should win.
As you can imagine, the huddle after was a pretty sombre place. Razz went straight into the dressing room as he was so upset, and Vines was as angry as I have ever seen him. We ride in together, and I couldn’t find him anywhere, so, in the end, I walked to my car in the college car park, and there he was, just standing next to it. We were all so down as we knew the chance we had just given up. I spoke with the players at the end & pretty much said my summary of them in this game and the season. Some harsh words were said, but comments that needed to be said. As much as I care for them all, I said they would look back on this season and regret it because I think they are the best side in the league, and I know the table doesn’t lie, so, it sounds mad, but I honestly believe it. The best side doesn’t always win games or leagues. You must also have that as a group to win when you don’t deserve to or nick a draw when you are about to lose. We haven’t done that enough this season for me.
I was driving to Bognor on Easter Monday. I remembered that same time a year earlier when we drew 3-3 on Saturday and played Bognor and lost 1-0 in a crap game of football that we just moped around all day, feeling sorry for ourselves, and it was a waste of time for everyone.
The whole team talk was about the club and the people connected to the club. The big number of fans we get for home and away games, the people who work so hard for the club, and I said we were lucky to be part of it. Everyone’s deal is up in 2 weeks; mine included, so this could be the last three games we have at Lewes. So do you want to be remembered as a team who gave up with three games to go? A team who wasted everyone’s bank holiday and felt sorry for themselves. Screw the playoffs. I don’t care about them, if I’m honest, at this point. What I care about is this team showing how much it means to play for Lewes and each other. Run more, jump higher and, tackle harder & fight for each other (that bit did come back to bite me about 10mins in)
We went for it in the team selection playing Razz at left-back, but I wanted us to go for it. They are box office this group when they get in a flow, so playing a winger at left-back told the players we were going for it. Let’s entertain our fans and give them something to shout about
We started like a house on fire, high press, and the ball fell at RG’s feet 35 yards from goal. He runs at them, beating his man before letting a right-footed shot off into the bottom corner. One quickly became two as Deon ripped his man out wide and pulled the ball back for that man again to put us 2-0 inside 9mins. Now most teams after that start would have had a lovely day at the office, but not us! 1 min later, Deon gets fouled to the floor, and the Bognor player then pushes his head into the ground then runs off. Deon’s reaction was poor, and he went after him. Next thing you know, the Bognor player is rolling around on the ground. Deon gets a red card, and the Bognor player is back up on his feet in no time. We changed the shape and were still the better team in the first half. JT having two great chances to add a 3rd. Plus, Raz went close with a free kick
We got them in at half-time, and it was a simple question for them. Are we going to roll over and not win this game? For every question we said about us as a group, you have the chance to answer them today. Can you dig in when you need to? Your mate is off, so can you all chip in and run some more to make up for his running? How much do you want it..
Well, the second half couldn’t have got off to a worse start as Bognor scored earlier, and now they have their tails up. I said to Vines on the line well, now we will see if those words before the games meant anything to them.
We had to dig in for the next 10mins, but then we started to punch them back, and we soon got back on top. RG raced down the left and put a lovely ball in for JT to Volley, only for the keeper to make a good save, and just when you thought the chance was gone, JT slid it in to make it 3-1 and broke the club record for goals in a season. I love seeing people doing well, so to be there when he did it and to see him going mad with happiness was a special moment. I can’t add anything about JT that you haven’t already read or seen in terms of him as a player, but what I can add is about him as a person. Me and him have a deep loyalty to each other that’s not to say he will be with me forever, as I wouldn’t put it on him like that, but it just works with us. I get a great player, and he gets loyalty and complete trust and also gets to play football he loves and gets loads of chances. That’s not to say we don’t have our moments. We are both highly strung, so we do have our moments, but the bottom line is I have complete trust in him, and he does in me, and you don’t get that very often with players. He has become a natural leader within the group, and I hadn’t seen that side of him, so I think he is getting better.
Soon after, he made it 4-1 from the spot, and we could maybe have scored a few more with Razz and Hydey and also a very good penalty shout at the end with Archie getting pushed over when clean, though. With added time, we played 89mins with ten men away from home, and it’s easy to say Bognor was poor on the day, but that’s the same team who won 4-0 on Saturday, and I happen to think they have some excellent players and a manager who knows football more than most that I have met. I like Robbie. He is just a good football man who calls it how he sees it, and I like people like that. He will get them firing next season. I have no doubt in my mind. Borgor is a great club, so it’s always special playing them.
The huddle at the end was a very different place from Friday. I was just so proud of them as a group. They answered every question we put to them. The game couldn’t have panned out better in terms of a test. Leading, down to 10 men, then them making it 2-1 with so long to go. I’m not saying we have cracked the code, but I’m a big believer in growing teams over time and days like Monday help that going forward.
Like everyone, I get so frustrated with them, but when they are like that, you sit there and think we are not a million miles off.
As for the playoffs, it’s not something that’s on my mind. All I care about is this team running and giving everything they have for this club, and if they do that and come up short, I can handle it.
I enjoyed most of Friday and all of Monday, so let’s see what comes on Saturday; one thing is for sure, you don’t get many dull days watching football with this lot!
As I said earlier, in a couple of weeks, we are all out of contract, so in football, you never know what is going to happen, so there is a chance this is the last game in Lewes for a few of us wearing the Lewes badge. It would be great to see as many of you as possible one last time. The Pan is a fantastic place to play football, and the fans are a significant factor, so be loud and let’s finish the last home game with a win.
Before anyone tries to find a negative in any part of this, I’m not saying me & all the players are leaving, and I’m also not saying we have given up on the playoffs; this has come from seeing everyone so down on Friday, so I want everyone to take a step back to see how lucky we are to be associated with a great club like Lewes. The fans are seeing goals galore and good football, and we get to play in front of 1k plus on a beautiful pitch. Whether we play 2/3 or even four more games this season, I want us to have the Bognor mindset. Fans & players giving their all and enjoying the game we all love. The rest are just add-ons.
Enjoy the game
Come on you Rooks!
THANK YOU AND GOODBYE
Two familiar faces around the Pan who will be leaving us in the next few weeks are Biram Desai, our Financial Controller, and James Barker, our Facilities Manager.
Biram has been with us for nearly three years, steering us out of the COVID period and into the world of Russell-ball. Despite being a Spurs fan, you cannot ever fail to enjoy spending time with Biram. He has a rare mix of an eye for an opportunity and prudent financial management – someone who has bought tenuous personalised number plates and tried to sell them to Premier League players and has successfully invested in Crypto. The support he has given me, the board and the management teams has been brilliant and we wish him well in his next role where I believe he will be partly responsible for organising p@ss ups in breweries, or at least how they are financially managed. He will be hugely missed by everyone at the club.
James joined us during COVID as well, taking on the the huge task of getting the Dripping Pan compliant with the stringent requirements necessary so we could first host games again, and then welcome fans back. Last summer he was instrumental in the removing of the old pitch and the installation of our new “magic carpet”. There’s not a job James hasn’t turned his hand to over the last few years and he is one of the unsung heroes who makes sure we have games on the Pan and at the 3G. James is leaving us to go travelling and we wish him all the best in his adventures and he is welcome back any time as our guest here at The Pan.
LEWES 3 HERNE BAY 3 – FRIDAY 7th APRIL 2023
Lewes surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 at Herne Bay, a result that could prove costly in their push for the play-offs, reports Tom Harper, pictures James Boyes.
Tony Russell made one change to the side that drew 2-2 at Margate in their previous game, with Jayden Davis returning from injury and replacing Bradley Pritchard in the starting line-up.
Lewes started brightly, knowing that a win would move them to within a point of the play-off places with both Enfield Town and Cray Wanderers immediately above them playing tomorrow, and saw Razz Coleman De-Graft hit the bar with a long-range strike inside the first minute.
They were then denied an early lead by the linesman, who flagged Joe Taylor offside as he converted a Tyrique Hyde cross from close range.
After weathering an early storm, the visitors took the lead with the first attack on 15 minutes, Marcel Barrington running onto a long ball forward, taking it past Will Salmon and finding the bottom corner.
The Rooks continued to see plenty of the ball, but struggled to break down the Herne Bay defence now they had something to hold onto.
De-Graft was at the heart of all Lewes’ best moments, shooting just wide from the edge of the area after being teed up by Taylor.
The Rooks levelled the scores five minutes before the break, as incisive build-up play down the right ended with Taylor sending a thumping finish past Jordan Perrin and in off the underside of the bar.
Lewes stayed on the front foot and took the lead a minute later, Perrin making a smart save to deny Davis, only for the Rooks to keep on the attack and see Tyrique Hyde play Ayo Olukoga through on goal to poke the ball under Perrin and spark jubilant celebrations behind the goal.
The Rooks started the second half as strongly as they had finished the first, Perrin pushing a long-range Davis strike round the post, before making a superb save to deny De-Graft at the far post after Tom Champion had flicked a corner on.
Lewes finally scored the third goal their pressure had been threatening, a deep De-Graft corner from the left being headed past Perrin and just inside the far post by Salmon.
The Rooks remained on top as they looked for a fourth goal to seal the win, with Ryan Gondoh cutting in from the right but seeing his effort deflected just over the bar with Perrin beaten.
Herne Bay gave themselves a lifeline with 15 minutes remaining, a mis-hit Troy Williams cross from the right deceiving Lewis Carey and dropping just inside the far post to halve the deficit.
The visitors then shocked the majority of the impressive crowd of 1,108 by levelling the scores on 80 minutes, as David Ozobia forced a fine save from Carey and the loose ball fell to Mason Henry-Saunders to finish into the empty net.
Lewes saw plenty of the ball in the closing stages as they searched for a winner, with Pritchard seeing a deflected effort saved by Perrin’s legs in the final few minutes.
This was the closest the Rooks came to winning the game late on, leaving them to reflect on a disappointing draw that could prove costly in their push for a play-off place.
A CHAMPION LAST STAND
After a career of 600+ games, spanning almost 20 years, our skipper Tom Champion will hang up his boots after our final game of the season (could that still be a play-off final???). Champs joined us last summer from Woking and has been inspirational in leading the team this season, making 41 appearances in all competitions so far, scoring three times.
He started his career at Barnet, and few may know that he turned out over 100 times for Bishop’s Stortford before playing for Braintree Town and Dartford. It was at Cambridge United where he got a real taste of winning though as he was part of their squad that won the FA Trophy at Wembley and promotion back to League Two from the Conference as well as a FA Cup appearance at Old Trafford, marking Wayne Rooney.
Spells at Barnet, Lincoln City and Boreham Wood, in League Two and National League proved his ability to play at the highest level. We were incredibly lucky to grab Champs for one final season and whilst today is going to be his last appearance here at The Pan, I’m sure he won’t be a stranger to visiting in the future.
Good luck Champs!
GET VOTING FOR THE ROOKS
Lewes FC have received a number of nominations in the forthcoming Non League Bible awards. The awards are in their first season, and we are really pleased to see that the club has been nominated in the following categories
- Best Non-League Content Creation – Lewes Clamour
- Best Non-League Footballer – Joe Taylor
- Club of the Year
- Women’s Club of the Year
You can make your vote count here.
JOE TAYLOR – RECORD BREAKER
In the 59th minute of our game on Monday at Bognor Regis Town, Joe Taylor followed up on a his own shot saved by the keeper to score. In doing so he broke the record for the most number of goals scored in a Lewes shirt since records were kept.
His 35th, and soon after, 36th goal of the season beat the previous record of 34 shared by Paul Booth and Lee Newman and with two games to go, Joe will have his eyes firmly on the Golden Boot, awarded for the most League goals in a season, currently with Sam Higgins on 30, one ahead of Joe.
Whatever his final tally is, there’s no doubt we have the best striker at this level of Non-League football.
DAVE EVANS MARATHON MAN
Next Sunday Lewes Supporters Club Chairman Dave Evans will run the London Marathan, raising funds for the Brain Tumour Charity. Dave was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2021 but has taken an inspirational approach since.
“From the start I have tried to focus on the things I can control rather than worrying about things that I can’t control.” Dave told the Argus recently. First hand I can vouch for that as he continues to drive fund raising for the club via the Supporters Club initiatives.
“There are many people running the London Marathon to raise funds for research into various forms of cancer. I think I am probably unusual in that I will be running as someone actually diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.”
Dave has tirelessly worked on both fund raising for the charity and the club and we wish him all the best on the run next week.
You can donate to his fund here.
THE RACE FOR PROMOTION
Just two 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. Canvey’s postponed game with Aveley complicates things, and whilst it is still possible for us to finish 4th and thus could host a Play-off Final, it is almost certain today will be our last game here this season at The Pan.
|Bishop’s Stortford (82)||Hornchurch (78)||Canvey Island (77)||Aveley (74)|
|Enfield Town (H)||Bowers & Pt (H)||Folkestone (A)||Horsham (H)|
|Herne Bay (A)||Kingstonian (A)||Aveley (H)||Canvey Island (A)|
|Lewes (H)||Enfield Town (A)|
|Cray Wanderers (70)||Enfield Town (69)||Horsham (66)||Hastings United (64)|
|Kingstonian (H)||Bishop’s Stort (A)||Aveley (A)||Bognor Regis (H)|
|Haringey Borough (A)||Aveley (H)||Brightlingsea (H)||Billericay Town (H)|
|Bowers & Pt (A)|
THE CHAIRMAN’S AWARDS
A few alternative highlights from the season from the Chair.
Best Goal – Once again we have scored some great goals this season such as another Russell-ball effort at Enfield Town, or Rhys’ superb strike against Wingate & Finchley but for me, Ayo’s thunderbuster at Bishop’s Stortford is head and shoulders above everyone else. Have a watch yourself at 3mins 20 seconds (or enjoy the whole episode of the win of the season).
Best Goal Celebration – This is a tough one as they have got better as the season has progressed, with the players never shying away from celebrating with the crowd. When we faced Wingate & Finchley in January the team took celebrating with the crowd to another level. Cue a last minute strike from Rhys Murrell-Williamson and most of the team lined up to pose for a picture…except Ryan Gondoh who was enjoying his own little party with the fans. A few days later when we faced Kingstonian and in the 67th minute Ryan scores. The team race to set up the picture again…and Ryan is off again doing his own thing.
Best Boardroom Hospitality – Whilst we won’t miss the long journey to Brightlingsea Regent, we will certainly miss the boardroom hospitality which included 3 different types of pork pie, a cheese board and Frazzles.
Best away day of the season – A last minute winner at Folkestone? The 3-0 drubbing given to Stortford or the 4-1 win on Bank Holiday Monday at Bognor Regis? Actually, I’m plumping for the 4-2 win at Enfield Town, inflicting another heavy defeat on one of the favourites for promotion, in the rain and scoring another superb team goal in the process.
Always Late For Everything – A score draw on this one between Ayo and Razz. Without fail these two compete to see who can annoy the linesman the most by being the last out of the dressing room.
Unsung Hero – Has to be Toni Miller, our amazing physio. I’ve seen what the players try to get away with, and the way she handles them. In a season where we have been blighted by muscular injuries she is prepared to put her hands where many fear to go. An absolute rock star.
VOX POP – YOUR TEAM OF THE SEASON AND WHO DO YOU WANT TO SIGN FOR NEXT SEASON
In the last Vox Pop of the season, we wanted to hear who you think makes our team of the season, and after receiving all your votes, these are the players…
We’ve seen some fantastic performances from these players this season. There were some close calls in some positions, with Tamplin and Moore just missing out. Tamplin has demonstrated an impressive ability on the pitch, and he’s certainly an exciting younger player we’ve got on the books here. Moore has scored the second highest number of goals this season, with 9, and has scored in some hugely significant games for us, such as against Folkestone away and against Enfield at home. Both are valued players to this squad.
As we reflect on our team of the season, we asked some fans who they’d like to see us sign next season, as we continue to look for ways to improve our team to the best of its ability. An opposing player that I was most impressed by was Nathan Odokonyero from Bognor, who successfully managed to score against us 3 times this season. Here are some other opinions…
Who would you like to sign?
“Lewis Knight, Enfield centre-half, looks a very solid player” – Harvey
“Ben Greenhalgh, Margate midfielder with 10+ goals and assists in 2021/22 & 2022/23” – Jamie
“Greg Halford, Hashtag United, to give us more security at the back” – Leo
“Joe Taylor (again) so that he can score 70 goals for us” – Neil
“Odokonyero. Although we’ve had a good attack, that extra fire power would take us to another level” – Ollie
INTRODUCING OUR VISITORS FROM HARINGEY BOROUGH
It was not until 1970 that a team competed under the name of Haringey Borough when WOOD GREEN TOWN who had played at Coles Park since 1930 changed their name to Haringey Borough. A merger with EDMONTON FC resulted in a brief change of name to Edmonton & Haringey FC until 1976 when the present name was re-adopted The merged Club played in the Athenian League until it ceased to operate at the end of the 1983/84 season and then played for 4 seasons in Division 2 North of the Isthmian League. After a period of instability culminating in year in the wilderness away from Senior football.
In 1988/89 they were admitted to the Spartan League in 1989/90 retaining Premier Division membership throughout until the South Midlands League merger in season 1997/98 when they finished 7th.in the Premier Division South to secure membership of the new “combined” Premier Division for 1998/99 as well as being runners up in the League’s Premier Division Cup. In 2004 after an unsuccessful attempt to move the Club to the nearby New River Sports stadium and a walk out of the existing Committee Aki Achillea who had commenced his association with the Club in 1995 was appointed to lead the Club forward and together with George Kilikita and Secretary John Bacon the club sought to engage more with the local community and tap into the talent locally.
The senior men’s team having been relegated to Division One of the Spartan South Midlands League in 2006/7 bounced back with promotion at the very first attempt and a fine season ended with both promotion and the winning of the Division One Cup. Back in the Premier Division for the season 2008/09 the Club again quickly found itself among the relegation strugglers leading to the appointment of the current Manager – the vastly experienced Tom Loizou. Tom and his excellent loyal team of coaching staff have been instrumental in turning around the Club’s fortunes in the intervening years. In 2011/12 a highest ever 5th place was achieved and the League Challenge Trophy won.
After massive stadium improvements in the close season with the erection of a new Clubhouse and new dressing rooms hopes were high for 2012/13 but the poor weather and the problematic pitch led to a massive fixture backlog which negated any chance of a serious challenge for honours and the Club finished 9th. In 2013/14 the Club’s challenge for promotion took place in the Essex Senior League following a sideways switch imposed by the FA. The Club had what was then its most successful season ever finishing runners up by just a solitary point to Great Wakering Rovers and ended the season with 20 wins and one draw from the final 21 League games.
The League title was nevertheless secured at the second attempt in 2014/15 with a haul of 103 points from 38 games and with it promotion to Step 4 in which we were allocated to the Ryman League Division One North. The first season at the higher level was a baptism of fire when only 7 points were garnered from the first 17 games but by the close of the season a further 43 points had been amassed from the remaining 29 games and the Club finished in a comfortable 15th place.
The first season in the FA Trophy produced two fine victories before a replay loss to Hitchin Town of the Evostik South Premier Division. The summer of 2016 saw yet further investment in the close season in the form of a 3G synthetic main pitch and added improvements to the perimeter, the spectator rails and the floodlights and has created a facility of which the Club can be proud; and has afforded a greater opportunity for the Club to move forward in all aspects.
The first team in 2016/17 improved markedly on the previous season and had an excellent all round campaign although rather unfortunate not to finish the season on a high having ended with the “double heartbreak” of missing out on promotion through a 4-5 closely fought semi final play-off defeat at Maldon & Tiptree FC after finishing 5th in the Division and an odd goal 2-3 London Senior Cup semi-final loss at Metropolitan Police. But 2017/18 was to be the Club’s best ever and culminated in promotion to Step 3 via the play-off route with a 3-1 win over Canvey Island after automatic promotion had been missed by just two points. And in FA Competitions the 4th and final round of the Qualifying rounds for the FA Cup was reached, although that ended in disappointment with a 2-4 home defeat by Heybridge Swifts who then enjoyed a visit to Exeter City in the First Round Proper.
In the FA Trophy we went right through the qualifying campaign and were lucky enough to draw Leyton Orient in the First Round Proper which brought a record attendance of 1,133 to Coles Park and “The O’s” left mightily relieved at having come back to win 2-1 after going a goal down in the fifth minute. 2018/19 was another great but ultimately disappointing season season with an FA Cup run which took us into the First Round Proper where it was ended rather cruelly by AFC Wimbledon’s last minute goal at Coles Park in front of a record crowd of 2,710. Having led the Premier Division for several weeks in mid-season it was somewhat surprising that we dropped from 2nd to 3rd on the last day of the season after a poor late run but still enjoyed home advantage in the Play-Off Semi-final in which a 45 minute second half onslaught on the Tonbridge Angels goal produced only one goal in response to the two they had scored before the interval.
The 2019/20 season’s early termination was less of a disappointment for us than for most other Isthmian Premier Division Clubs as we were marooned in mid-table with no realistic prospect of entering either the promotion or relegation zones. The highlight of the season should have been the visit of National League Yeovil Town in the Final Qualifying Round of the Emirates FA Cup but, as is well known, appalling crowd behaviour brought that game to an early end and the second game seemed something of an anti-climax. In fact, without making excuses, that unpleasant episode seems to have adversely affected our players for some time for, whereas we had been well in the promotion places mix, thereafter we just drifted downwards.
The early termination of League Fixtures for 2020/21 was more of a blow than was the previous seasons voiding as we were well placed to make a charge towards a play-off place at least. However the Buildbase FA Trophy continued and we enjoyed a run through to the 4th Round Proper when Oxford City of the National League South finally eliminated us 4-2 after we had been two up; en route we had overcome Faversham Town, Bishops Stortford, Eastbourne Borough and Dartford, the last two also being National League South Clubs. The London Senior Cup also carried on and due to withdrawals, we reached the quarter-final without playing a game but lost a penalty shoot out to Hanwell Town after a 2-2 draw. The 2021/22 season was more or less a non-event as regards any real challenge for the League top spots but the semi-finals of The League Cup and the London Senior Cup were reached with both game ending in odd goal defeats in the space of a week. We may well have set a Club record for the highest number of injuries sustained in any season and that even led to an outside chance of relegation towards the end of the season but the failings of others meant we were never in serious danger.
2016/17 saw the introduction of a much needed “second” team, formed to compete in the Ryman Development League it being basically intended for Under 21 players but with the facility to include up to 4 older players in every squad. The team held their own comfortably in the League finishing a very creditable 6th place and the benefits of the Club’s participation were all too evident with the introduction of a number of players into the first team squad throughout the season and the opportunity for first team squad players to keep fresh and those who were returning from injury had a platform to get fit. Thereby proving the benefits of having such a side. The age restriction was amended to Under 23 for 2017/18 and the team has always been near the top of the table, continued to do well in the following seasons and won the North Division Championship in 2021/22 but lost to South Division Champions Hastings United in the “Champion of Champions” play off.
Youth teams were commenced and run successfully for many years at various age levels with some considerable success particularly at the older age groups including progress into the 2nd round proper of the FA Youth Cup in 2006/07. They were Divisional winners of the Southern Counties Floodlit Youth League in 2004/05 (and also winners of the League’s Colwyn Cup competition) and 2009/10. After a few seasons absence from Youth football the Under 18s rejoined the Southern Counties competition in 2017/18, winning its Divisional Championship at the first attempt and finishing towards the top of the table in the following seasons. This will again provide a pathway for talented local boys to make their way into the first team squad and ultimately the first team itself.
The Women’s Team was formed in 1999 and competed in the Eastern Region Womens League winning promotion in its first season and then to its Premier Division for 2002/03; and there they have remained save for two seasons, the first being in 2011/12 following relegation to Division 1 from which they made an immediate Premier Division return as runners-up . Steady improvement began and we were extremely fortunate to have been approached midway through the 2014/15 season by renowned coach and former professional footballer Steve Browne who at the time was involved in the highly successful S & T Academy Girls football.
Steve was duly appointed Manager and preserved the Women’s Premier Division status. In 2015/16 a mid table position was easily secured from an uneven campaign which included convincing away wins at the top 2 Clubs and some surprisingly disappointing performances against lower placed teams. In 2017/18, by Christmas the team were runaway League leaders only to be thrown off course by the tragic early death of Steve on New Years Day but after a shaky period the Women re-asserted themselves to win the League Championship on the last day of the season and with it, promotion to the Women’s Premier League and followed that up by adding the League Cup with a 5-1 win over Cambridge City to complete the double which was a a fitting, lasting legacy for their Manager. The loss of many of the successful squad, several to American University Scholarships, proved too much of a handicap at the higher level and relegation back to the Eastern Regional League was an unsurprising outcome. Now under the stewardship of Bobby Cato significant steps forward seem certain and promotion is again a realistic prospect. An exceptionally young and talented squad was unlucky to find itself in danger of relegation towards the end of the 2021/22 season due to a high number of odd goal defeats but pulled clear with 4 vital points from the last two games. They look capable of going places if they stick together when experience is added to their armoury.
The foundations are in place for an eventual assault on the title to secure a National League place for the men’s senior side and an exciting season is in prospect in which a challenge for at least a Play-off position is a realistic prospect as we pursue our ambition to achieve promotion to the National League should be within the capabilities of our talented squad. The facilities and structures are in place for all the Club’s teams to improve and enhance on recent successes
TOM LOIZOU (MANAGER) A man with wealth of experience and knowledge of the game who is always running around for the club; his passion is there for everyone to see and he keeps everyone at the Club on their toes – not just the players! With us since early 2009
DAVID CUMBERBATCH (FIRST TEAM ASSISTANT MANAGER) long serving back up to the Manager and the first to judge the merits of the many applicants seeking trials with the Club
JOHNNY FITSIOU (HEAD OF FOOTBALL OPERATIONS) Has a wealth of experience in professional and non-league football. He supports Tom and the Chairman, Aki, in everything football related
THOMAS O’DONOGHUE (FIRST TEAM HEAD COACH) known as ‘Tucker’ is an experienced coach who joined the coaching staff at the Borough in 2016. Having started with the first team. Father of player Michael
MUSTAFA BASHKAL (FIRST TEAM COACH) “Bash” has joined the first team coaching staff, having previously managed Leatherhead football club 1st team.
PHIL STONE (GOALKEEPING COACH) Started out with Clapton FC then moved to Leatherhead
JESSICA DEHAAN ( FIRST TEAM PHYSIO) qualified therapist with previous experience in Rugby and NFL
BEN ALLEN – attacker signed from Aveley on the last Saturday morning of January 2023 who made a scoring debut that afternoon. He was a young player at Phoenix Sports when snapped up by Gillingham, where he turned out for their Under 18 side and a few times for the first team. Loan time at Greenwich Borough followed, and then he moved to National League Bromley, before having some loan time at Lewes, Also has National League experience with Welling United, Concord Rangers and Hungerford Town..
GEORGIOS ARESTI – Cypriot International midfielder who numbers AEK Athens among his previous Clubs; 2017/18 deadline day signing and now virtually an automatic selection for every match
BOBSON BAWLING –attacking midfielder in second spell with us who left for Hendon at the end of last season but came back at Christmas. Originally joined us from Enfield Town at the start of the 2020/21 season having previously been with Crawley Town, Woking and St. Albans City.
RIO DAVIDSON –PHIPPS Deadline day signing. A right back who was with Bishop’s Stortford last season but has been out of action this season through injury.
ERALD DESA Attacker recently signed who has considerable past Isthmian experience with Merstham, Cray Wanderers, Cheshunt and, most recently, Corinthian Casuals and has also been with Welwyn Garden City and Brimsdown. Has represented Albania at Youth International level.
CHRISTOS DJAMAS Cypriot Under 21 International signed in October 2020. Midfielder who was most recently on contract at Othello Athienoy and previously with Apoel Nicosia and Agia Napa
JORGE DJASSI-SAMBU midfield powerhouse now in 9th season with Club; opponents know when they have been tackled by this non-stop box to box player . Dangerous in opponents box at set piece situations.
WILLIAM DUPRAY tall, strong defensive midfielder in his second spell at Borough. Signed in the close season having been wit Ware last season. A much travelled player who has had spells at Northwoiod, Corinthian Casuals, Bracknell Town, Harlow Town, Wingate & Finchley, Welwyn Garden City, Chalfont St. Peter, Cambridge City and Scunthorpe United
SCOTT DUROJAIYE a familiar name who re-joined us early this season. . “Olu” is a very experienced and widely travelled midfielder with experience at several National League sides including Hungerford Town, Welling United, Braintree Town, Maidstone United, Woking, Dartford and most recently Peterborough Sports for which Club he played two games earlier this season and is now dual registered.
SONNY FISH Deadline day signing on Youth Loan terms from Leyton Orient. Tall, strong centre-forward who has represented Wales at Youth level and was on loan at Bowers & Pitsea earlier in the season.
ANDRONICOS GEORGIOU mid season 2021/22 signing; a forward who graduated from Stevenage Academy and played in their EFL team. Also played for Wycombe Wanderers. Has also been loaned to Kings Langley, St. Albans City and Middlesbrough Under 23s. Currently on loan to Kings Langley.
STEFANOS GEORGIOU – younger brother of Andronicos signed from St. Margaretsbury a few days before the March 2022 Registration deadline; a right sided midfielder who immediately looked at home at this higher level of the game.
CALLUM ISMAIL skilful young full back previously with Bowers and Pitsea who joined us in September 2018 and after establishing himself in the Under 23s and on the bench made his first start in December 2019
ALPHANSO KENNEDY Goalscoring winger signed in close season. Was with Wingate & Finchley last season and also played for FC Romania; played against us when we ;lpst 1-0 at Wingate & Finchley on August Bank Holiday Monday 2019..
MEKHI LEACOCK-McLEOD – Attacking midfielder who rejoined us earlier this season from Farnborough. Wide attacking midfielder who also numbers Halifax Town, Accrington Stanley, Eastleigh and Romford among his previous berths and Fulham, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Glasgow Rangers at Under 23 level.
SCOTT MITCHELL – a summer 2017 signing; 22 year old central defender who was previously with Dagenham & Redbridge. Almost an ever present in 2017/18 season and thereafter; now an established member of the squad who sometimes wears the captains armband
MICHAEL O’DONOGHUE – powerful full back who re-joined us after spending some time at National League side Concord Rangers. Formerly a professional with Colchester United. Superb dead-ball deliverer.
MAX OVENDEN – a goalkeeper signed in the close season with previous Isthmian experience at Cray Valley (PM) and the now defunct Thamesmead Town as well as extensive Southern Counties East experience with Punjab United.
SAMUEL OWUSU – midfielder signed from East Thurrock United on Christmas Eve 2021 who immediately took a place on the Boxing Day bench and made a 20 minute debut .appearance. After several further such appearances made his first start in the London Senior Cup game against Tooting & Mitcham United and has firmly established himself as a serious starting line up contender
HARRY PHILIPPOU Long serving midfielder who has come through our Under 18 and 23 teams and made a scoring debut at Kingstonian on his First Team debut.
RAKIM RICHARDS versatile player with us since 2010 and most usually to be found in a defensive role but quite at home in midfield and a menace in the opponents penalty area when corner kicks arrive. Captain for 2022/23.
MATT YOUNG Classy mid-fielder in his second loan spell from Leyton Orient with us . Has also been on loan to Hemel Hempstead Town this season
ALEXANDER ZAMANI Goalkeeper from last season returning for second spell at the Club as a late addition to the squad just before the deadline. Dual registered with Bexhill United of the Southern Combination Premier Division and also with Billericay Town for a time earlier in the season.
THE RECENT FORM
THE HEAD TO HEAD
|3rd Dec 2022||Isthmian Premier League||Haringey Borough||1||Lewes||2|
|12th Mar 2022||Isthmian Premier League||Haringey Borough||2||Lewes||2|
|13th Nov 2021||Isthmian Premier League||Lewes||4||Haringey Borough||2|
|11th Mar 2020||Isthmian Premier League||Lewes||2||Haringey Borough||1|
|4th Jan 2020||Isthmian Premier League||Haringey Borough||0||Lewes||1|
|30th Mar 2019||Isthmian Premier League||Haringey Borough||2||Lewes||1|
THE LAST MEETING HERE – 13th November 2021
BOGNOR REGIS TOWN LEWES – MONDAY 10th APRIL 2023
Lewes produced one of their best performances of the season to record a 4-1 win at Bognor, despite being reduced to ten men inside the first 15 minutes, reports Tom Harper, pictures James Boyes.
Tony Russell made two changes to the side that drew 3-3 with Herne Bay in their previous game, with Bradley Pritchard and Deon Moore replacing Will Salmon and Jayden Davis in the starting line-up.
Lewes made the best possible start to the game by taking the lead after just two minutes, Ryan Gondoh intercepting a loose pass at the back before finishing past Matt Rowley and into the bottom corner.
The Rooks continued to dominate and doubled their lead on eight minutes, as a Moore cross from the left was only half-cleared by Danny Howick, and Gondoh steered the loose ball beyond Rowley to send the impressive contingent of travelling fans into raptures.
Lewes saw their task made more difficult after 13 minutes when Moore was shown a straight red card for retaliating after a strong challenge from Calvin Davies.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Rooks continued to control the game and create the better chances, with a superb last-ditch challenge from Cameron Black preventing Joe Taylor from adding a third goal when clean through.
Razz Coleman De-Graft was the next player to go close, just missing the target with a powerful 30-yard free-kick.
Taylor went even closer minutes later, winning the ball back midway inside the Bognor half and spotting Rowley off his line before seeing his attempted lob just wide.
After being second best for long periods of the first half, the hosts started the second brightly and pulled a goal back within three minutes of the restart, Nathan Odokonyero controlling a long ball forward before finishing emphatically into the bottom corner.
Lewes could have been forgiven for sitting back and trying to protect their lead at this stage, but they remained on the front foot and continued to look for more goals.
They scored a third goal just before the hour-mark, Taylor seeing a volley from a Gondoh cross saved by Rowley before regaining possession and beating the goalkeeper at his near post.
The travelling fans were in full voice, roaring the Rooks forward and the players were responding, moving the ball comfortably and looking capable of increasing their lead further.
It took a fine save from Rowley to keep the hosts in the game, as he dived to his left to turn a De-Graft free-kick round the post.
The resulting corner, also taken by De-Graft, hit the arm of Harvey Whyte, leaving the referee with little choice but to point to the spot.
Taylor took the penalty, sending Rowley the wrong way to make it 4-1 on 67 minutes.
The final quarter of the game passed with very little goalmouth action, although the previously untroubled Lewis Carey had to be alert to deny Odokonyero a second goal with a smart save.
Lewes saw out the closing stages comfortably and came close to adding a fifth goal late on, Tyrique Hyde forcing Rowley into action at his near post after latching onto a Rhys Murrell-Williamson through-ball.
The final whistle was greeted by jubilant celebrations among the travelling supporters, with results elsewhere meaning the Rooks still have a chance of securing a play-off place heading into the final two games of the season.
MATCH DAY VIDEO FROM OUR AWAY DAY TO BOGNOR
REMEMBERING KINGSTONIAN LAST SEASON
Another year, another high stakes end of season home game. For us to learn from our mistakes, let’s take a trip down memory lane, to a famous home game last season, that left many a Rook with a stomach punch to carry for the summer…
IAN TOWNSEND’S ISTHMIAN LEAGUE ROUND UP
Bishop’s Stortford had lost only twice at home this season, whilst visitors Brightlingsea Regent hadn’t managed a single victory on their travels, so yesterday’s match between the leaders and their already relegated visitors looked a home win certainty- and so it proved. Stortford comfortably made it five wins in a row and took themselves four points clear at the top with a three-nil victory. Harry Beadle headed home the opener after just three minutes, and the Blues were two up by half time, Ryan Charles volleying home at the far post from a Frankie Merrifield cross. With eleven minutes to go the hosts made the points certain, a free kick from Jonny Giles evading everyone and finding the net.
Hornchurch travelled to Carshalton Athletic– and a late equaliser means that the Urchins have won only one of their last six. The visitors went ahead just after the break, Tom Wraight converting a penalty, but within seven minutes the Robins were level through Stefan Ilic. With sixteen minutes to go Liam Nash looked to have won it for the visitors, but the hosts weren’t done and a minute from time holed Hornchurch’s hopes when Ollie Cook levelled. The Urchins now have four points to make up on Stortford, and only two games to do it.
Canvey Island and Aveley saw their match rained off. Both could yet be involved in the title shake up, the Gulls five points behind Stortford with a game in hand- but it certainly won’t be easy!
Enfield Town kicked off knowing that a host of clubs were breathing down their necks in the battle for that final play off spot- and a late, late Haringey Borough goal saw the Towners lose their grip on the top five. Jake Cass put them in front on twenty four minutes only for Scott Mitchell to level just before the break, but a second from Cass with twenty five minutes left looked to have given the hosts three points. Right at the end, however, Stefanos Georgiou popped up to earn a point for Borough, and drop Town down to sixth.
Cray Wanderers were the beneficiaries of that late Haringey goal, but to take advantage of that they needed three points of their own- and they got them at Herne Bay in an eight goal thriller. Wands had an almost perfect first half hour, Nyren Clunis scoring twice and Sam Wood adding another- but the hosts then awoke, and a Mason Saunders-Henry effort and an own goal pulled things back to two-three. Ten minutes from time Jalen Jones gave the visitors a boost, making it four-two, but again the hosts hit back through Daniel Ogunleye. Right at the end Wands made sure, Rio Campbell making it five-three and confirming three critical points. Bay are now six points from safety with two games to go- those matches against Wingate & Finchley and Bishop’s Stortford; whilst that’s seven unbeaten for Wands.
Hastings United and Horsham didn’t do each other’s play off chances much good, neither managing a goal. United are six points away from the top five- albeit with a game in hand- whilst the Hornets are four points from the promised land. One thousand, five hundred and twenty one watched on.
Margate and Folkestone Invicta had only Kentish bragging rights to play for at Hartsdown Park, and they went to Invicta, Ibrahim Olutade scoring the only goal of the game on twelve minutes.
Billericay Town are assured of a mid-table spot- but their visitors Bowers & Pitsea travelled to New Lodge with no shortage of problems, and those problems got bigger still as the Blues went three goals up. Montel Agyemang opened the scoring nine minutes before the break, and in the first twelve minutes of the second half Toby Stevenson and Kareem Isiaka added two more. At this point Bowers remembered that they were on the cusp of relegation, and goals from Brandon Aviero and Solomon Addy- both on from the bench- gave them hope, but it was forlorn hope and the hosts took all three points. Bowers are now six points from safety and will have to defeat Hornchurch and Hastings United whilst hoping that Kingstonian don’t pick up another point.
Kingstonian faced a derby match at already relegated Corinthian-Casuals, and came through it comfortably to earn themselves a six point cushion. Ibrahim Bangura gave them a sixteenth minute lead, Tom Collins made it two just after the hour mark, and any chance of a home comeback was ended by red cards for Sean Agun and Simbarashe Kudyiwa, as Casuals finished the match with nine men. The K’s aren’t entirely safe, particularly with tricky matches against Cray Wanderers and Hornchurch to come, but they can only be caught if they lose both of those and either of Bowers or Herne Bay record two victories.
Wingate & Finchley needed a point to guarantee safety, but they got three. Dylan Kearney gave them the lead over Potters Bar Town on nineteen minutes, and made sure when adding a second just before the hour. Max Granville saw a late red card for the Scholars.
THE FIFA RANKINGS UPSIDE DOWN – No.186 DOMINICA
The whole population of Dominica could fit into Old Trafford. It would naturally make the Caribbean island very empty on a match day some 5,000 miles away but then you’d get to enjoy the fantastic beaches without anyone judging your Speedos.
They played their first game back in 1932, starting with a 1-0 against Martinique. However, they didn’t become FIFA Affiliates until 1994. Prior to then, as part of the UK, any Dominicans could have chosen to play for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales, if selected. They weren’t. The Dominican Football Association were formed in 1970 but it would be another 20 years before they would be allowed to play in the CONCACAF competitions.
Regular wins against smaller Caribbean islands, punctuated by the occasional heavy defeat was the narrative for their formative years in international football. Their first FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament came on 2002 with a 7-1 aggregate defeat to Haiti. Four years later they got one step further with a first round win over Bahamas but an 18-0 defeat over two legs to Mexico brought them down to earth and saw them go on a 15 game, 3 year winless run.
In the 2014 World Cup qualifying tournament they lost all four games to Panama and Nicaragua. Four years later they lost 6-0 to Canada, extending their competitive winless streak to 16 years. However, in June 2021 they finally won a World Cup Qualifier, beating Anguilla 3-0, then drawing with Barbados.
It’s been almost a year since they won their last game, a 3-1 friendly win over Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (unfair advantage playing with two teams), with their last game a 3-1 defeat in the Caribbean Nations League at home to St. Lucia.
Most of the current squad are based in the domestic, Dominica Premier League although in the past there has been a smattering of lower league players from the British leagues turned out for the team such as Joel Etienne-Clark from Ilford and Julian Wade from Brechin City.
The national stadium can be found in the capital Roseau. The 12,000 capacity stadium is also used for cricket, concerts and the Miss Dominica beauty pageant.
If you can tear yourself away from the amazing beaches then you can find a game or two around the capital most weekends.
ON THE ROAD TO…CANVEY ISLAND – SATURDAY 22nd APRIL 2023
About The Prospects Stadium
It’s not just the ground name that has changed significantly since we last visited Canvey. The club demolished the old club house and have built a cracking new venue for the club and its fans. The rest of the ground is as it was, and quite frankly, didn’t really need much changing. Yes, the wind blows off the Thames Estuary but fingers crossed in late April it will be a warm wind and not one laced with an Arctic chill. The view from the excellent steep terrace at the north end of the stadium is one of the best in Non-League football.
How to get to The Prospects Stadium
Head to the M25 and then take anti-clockwise route towards Dartford Crossing. Exit M25 at Junction 30 and take the A13 towards Southend. You will reach a series of mini roundabouts. At these roundabouts, take the A130 towards Canvey Island. At the next roundabout take the 2nd exit which will keep a sports centre on your right and follow signs for Canvey Island Football Club. Eventually, you will enter a one way system. Keep left through the one way system and after one mile you will pass the Transport Museum on your right. Park Lane is on the right hand side shortly afterwards, with The Prospects Stadium located in front of you. There is plenty of parking outside the ground.
Benfleet Station is 40 minutes from London Fenchurch Street and 50 minutes from London Liverpool Street on the C2C line. The station is 5 miles from the ground. There is a taxi rank around the back of the station. Alternatively, you can use the frequent bus service from the front of the station – the number 22 or 27 buses drop you directly outside Park Lane. Alternatively, you can use the number 21 or 21A to be dropped by the sea wall. From here, continue walking in the direction you travelled across some playing fields, and you will see The Prospects Stadium on your left
Admission into The Prospects Stadium
Admission is £12 for Adults, £7 for Concessions and £2 for accompanied under 16s.
Fancy a beer?
There’s not much in the way of good pubs around the ground. The Hoy & Helmet and The Half Crown are next to Benfleet Station, whilst the Lobster Smack on the island has some interesting history but nowhere near the ground. Probably best to stick to the excellent clubhouse at the ground.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS IN OL’ REEKIE – THE FOOTBALL TOURIST HEADS NORTH
Identity is everything in the world today. Whether it’s a company, a brand or a football club, the name matters. It matters to fans, the players, management and the local community. So when a club decides it is going to rebrand, there must be a good story to bring all of those stakeholders along with them.
There’s not been many football clubs who have rebranded successfully over the years. Of course the origins of some of the most famous clubs in England today, such as Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham can be traced back to entities that no longer in exist in most cases. Newton Heath, Dial Square and Thames Ironworks don’t quite have the same ring to them but that identity is important to what those clubs have become.
Changing a club name, aside from a dropping or adding of an AFC at the start is rare. Swansea replaced Town with City nearly 50 years ago when the town, well, became a city. Bournemouth lost Boscombe somewhere along the way and of course Hartlepool lost an “S”, found it then lost it again. Naturally, we can’t move on without a mention of MK Dons. Oh, OK apparently we can.
There’s been a few famous product rebrands in our lifetime. For those of a certain age (me), we can still remember Opal Fruits, Marathons and Ajax. Whilst the name on the packaging changed, what’s inside hasn’t. Brand fans may be up in arms for awhile but over time acceptance, albeit begrudging, sets in.
So here I am, sitting in the lounge at Meabowbank Stadium, on the edge of Edinburgh’s city centre. The rain continues to pour down outside, whilst a few of the players limply warming up on the pitch, looking as if they want to be somewhere else on a Friday night. In fact, having spent a few wonderful, and dry hours in the Vault City taproom, so do I.
Many football fans will remember Meadowbank Thistle and the previous incumbents of the stadium built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games and redeveloped for the games again in 1986. But they were originally called Ferranti Thistle, a works team from the Ferranti engineering company. In 1974 Third Lanark resigned from the Scottish League, who asked for interested clubs to apply. Inverness Thistle and Gateshead United applied, but it was Ferranti who won the backing of the majority of the existing clubs.
But the strict rules of the Scottish Football League meant they couldn’t play under the Ferranti name so they had to find a new identity, as the logical choice was Meadowbank, where the club was to be based. As a part-time club they struggled for two decades, and faced with the prospect of ceasing to exit, coupled with plans to sell the aging Meadowbank Stadium for redevelopment, an offer was made to move the club 20 miles westwards to Livingston, which included a change of identity, not quite the Scottish equivalent of MK Dons, but travelling down the same road.
Fast forward twenty five years and Meadowbank Stadium has been rebuilt and has new tenants, Edinburgh’s third team (in terms of current league position at least). They started life as Edinburgh City back in 1986, finally winning promotion to the Scottish League in 2016. Back then Ainslie Park was home, sharing with junior league side Spartans but there was a plan to take the club to a redeveloped Meadowbank.
Last summer it all happened. They finally got the go ahead to move to the new sports complex, they beat Annan Athletic in the League One Playoff final and they changed their name to FC Edinburgh, with a new badge to reflect the city to boot.
Life is good after their change of identity you could say. Well, not quite. It’s fair to say there’s a lot of challenges playing in the stadium. “It’s a regional athletics stadium, not a football ground”, Chairman Jim Brown tells me prior to their game with Queen of the South. The club are restricted on what they can do, such as not being able to operate any bar facilities after evening matches. Brown is stepping down from his role at the end of the season after six tumultuous years at the helm of the club, citing the stress of the role, both physically and mentally, as one of the reasons for his departure.
FC Edinburgh had been pushing for a second successive season, and were in 2nd place at the turn of the year, but some indifferent results had seen them fall to 5th spot, one place outside the playoffs as Queen of the South arrived in town for a Friday night game.
A win would see FC Edinburgh move back into the top four but they were facing a side that in their 12 game history they had a perfect record against. Played 12, lost 12. Runs have to end and some point and the chatter in the hospitality lounge before the game was of a win tonight with “Robbo” to score the winner.
The move to Friday night was to avoid a clash with Scotland’s game with Cyprus on Saturday, a hope that they could also increase on their average of 591, currently the lowest in the league. Edinburgh offers a lot for the nocturnal visitors – unfortunately a trip out to Meadowbank probably doesn’t figure in the top 20. As the teams took the field, the crowd of around 500 huddled together under the single stand, trying to stay out of the swirling rain. A group of very young home fans braved the conditions and the distant view from behind the goal and were making the noise, encouraging the team.
“If Robbo scores, we are on the pitch” was perhaps a tad optimistic from the group as they would have to cover around 50 metres from where they stood and would have been easily taken down by the steeplechase pit if not the stewards.
The first half wasn’t a classic – the weather, the surroundings and the style of play from both sides. The home side were missing the experience and guile of former Bristol City and Hibs defender Liam Fontaine and it showed. Half-time mini pies were delivered and everything was right with the world again.
The game finally came to life just after the hour mark when the visitors scored on the counter attack, Ruari Paton finishing off a swift move. They doubled their lead with ten minutes to play thanks to Connor Murray, and added a third two minutes later. A last minute consolation effort James Craigen narrowed the score but it was too little too late.
The fans trickled out into the Edinburgh night, perhaps off to join their mates who stayed in the pub. Wisely they may say but unless you try to build something, people won’t come whether there’s a strong identity or not.
Will appear here at 2:15pm
The penultimate awayday for the Stodgebusters and this time just along the coast to Nyewood Lane. We’ve had a real mixed bag of results there over the years. We’ve had joy and despair in roughly equal amounts. A particularly memorable visit was as underdogs possibly twenty years ago, when for some reason we had no strikers at all available, but it ended two-nil to the Rooks with the midfield legend that was Paul “Kenno” Kennett being shoved up front and scoring, as far as we can recall, both goals. That was an enjoyable day. Other visits have been memorable for not so good reasons. We’ve had a sprinkling of red cards in some feisty losing encounters. Some totally undeserved too. Such as the Rocks keeper getting Jack Dixon sent off in a three-one defeat a few seasons ago. That was simply outrageous.
We had a full complement of Stodgebusters for this one. Even Treasurer Al had agreed to join us on the train. That usually means train problems and some GBH of our earholes. Five of us jumped on the 11.33 from Lewes bound for Brighton. Roly produced the jelly babies, but between all of us they barely lasted to Falmer. You can’t beat a jelly baby, especially when they are the real McCoy such as Maynard’s Bassetts. A smooth change at Brighton and another one at Barnham meant we were in Bognor at a shade after one. Bang on time. How unusual.
The Syrup Café, just across the road from the station, was the restaurant of choice and as far as we know it has nothing to do with wigs or toupeés. We’ve been here before, as has PJ with his better half and it has been very good at very reasonable prices. It has a very clean and friendly air about it too. Half the population of Bognor seemed to be in there having Bank Holiday lunch. There were a couple of spare tables but both only seating four. A fifth chair appeared courtesy of Der Management so we had a rather cosy five around the table. The menu was excellent. Everything a Stodgebuster could possibly want. Four Full English breakfasts, one omelette and chips with salad, three teas, one latte and one green tea were ordered up at the counter.
“I’m afraid it’s a half hour wait for food”.
Oh dear. Not good news. But we had plenty of time and to be fair it was extremely busy. A busy restaurant is usually a good restaurant. We would wait and discuss the upcoming spectacle. We were mostly confident of three points. PJ was a bit more sceptical. We needed the three points to keep our already slim playoff hopes alive. The Good Friday draw at home to Herne Bay had been a major disappointment. How didn’t we win that? Their second goal was probably the fluke of the season, but the equaliser was a real kick in the proverbial.
It had been nowhere near half an hour when the food actually turned up. It was excellent as we knew it would be going on previous visits. PJ paid £5.90 for a Number One Breakfast consisting of a rasher of bacon, sausage, fried egg, beans, mushrooms, a slice of toast and a cup of green tea. We don’t know how they do it for the price compared to other places we frequent. Maybe we don’t want to know either! This could be a late competitor for the highly prestigious Stodgebuster Café Of The Season award. A tip on the table, and it was time to go.
We had a fifteen-minute stroll to the ground. The weather forecast we had seen had erroneously suggested it would be raining until kick off. So here we all were, walking to the ground in very pleasant sunshine but wearing winter coats. Bleedin’ BBC weather app strikes again.
We quite like Nyewood Lane as a ground. They always seem to have a decent pitch, which should suit our passing game. It’s good viewing wherever one stands. The relatively new cover at the clubhouse end is superb and means one can stand behind both goals without getting drenched. A similar thing over the Terry Parris Terrace would be an excellent addition at the Pan. One thing that was annoying, though, was the public address. It was too loud. Trying to have a conversation with someone within 30 yards of those speakers is nigh on impossible. We would also sack the D.J.
It was like being at a rave. Not that any of us old codgers have ever been to one. We are much more your Classic Rock fans. Some anthemic AC/DC, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin type of stuff would have gone down much better with us. Although a bit of Queen and Oasis wasn’t so bad.
Obviously, we were struggling with injuries. The line up had Razz at left back, although we expected him to be bombing on up the wing in support of Deon Moore. Other players were playing out of position too which gave it all a bit of a makeshift feel. We started with Joe, Deon and Ryan Gondoh all on the pitch from the start. That looked very attacking. Lewes started in top gear.
The home defence looked all at sea and within two minutes they gifted Ryan with the ball in a dangerous place. He ran to the edge of the area and slotted it past the keeper. Easy Peasy. The Bognor fans behind us weren’t impressed. We were gifted another chance within minutes when the defence once again failed to deal with a ball, this time from Deon, but merely deflected it to Gondoh who poked it home from close range. The groans from the home fans behind us were even louder. This was better than we could possibly have hoped for. Two up in eight minutes with the Bognor defence looking about as effective as the Keystone Cops. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, ten minutes in and there’s a coming together on the Lewes left involving Deon and the Bognor number two. It’s a free kick to Lewes but Deon is being held down by the miscreant like Mick McManus, (ask your parents), and stopping him from getting up. It looked like Deon shoved him in the face and the number two has gone down like a Mike Tyson victim while clutching his face. We feared the worst and sure enough the red was brandished. It’s easy to say, but one can’t react like that no matter what the provocation. Guess what? The two was suddenly fine again and jumped up.
He only got a yellow for his part in the melee. More importantly though, he had got exactly what he wanted for Deon. Two up, cruising but now potentially in trouble, facing eighty minutes with a man down. Amazingly this didn’t have. much effect on the rest of the half. Lewes were still the better team by some distance and came very close to making it three-nil on three separate occasions. The home defence looked as flimsy as a wet paper bag. Bognor didn’t create much at all and Lewis Carey could have relaxed in a deckchair while sipping a Pina Colada.
We have seen the interval change games completely. We suspected this might happen here. It was therefore no surprise when Bognor pulled one back barely a couple of minutes into the second half. This wasn’t good. We were now as nervous as Boris Johnson in a spelling test.
“Here we go. It’s going to be like the ****** Alamo now”.
Bognor had a lot of the ball but with seemingly Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie manning the defensive ramparts, Lewes reasserted themselves and within ten minutes we were three-one up when Joe received the ball and slotted past the keeper at the second attempt from a tight angle. There was pandemonium behind the goal with another massive group hug. PJ was wisely standing at the back this week and let someone else get the thrills.
“Where’s the referee going?”
We didn’t know at the time that the referee had received a pint of Best over him and was going to change his shirt. He came back and promptly booked Joe for removing his. We give the referees some stick when they make a howler but chucking beer at them is a step too far.
Shortly afterwards, a Bognor defender tried playing basketball in his own box and Joe despatched the resulting penalty. That was it for some home supporters, and they started filing out as if the fire alarm had sounded, although some stayed to the end to avoid the rush. For us it was party time behind the goal again.
Bognor had a late flurry but Lewes defended like their lives depended on it. Bodies on the line blocking everything. It finished four-one. We never saw that coming before the game, and certainly not after going down to ten men with so much of the game left. This game never ceases to surprise us. Lewes had been fantastic, and Bognor hadn’t. The after-match celebrations by Ayo and Ryan were worth the admission alone. And things got even better as we heard that Haringey had netted an injury time penalty against Enfield.
What a day. One of the best of the season. A great performance, three points, excellent lunch and even the presence of Treasurer Al couldn’t disrupt the trains. Bring on Haringey Borough!
The Stodgebusters will be at Canvey Island although there might not be a report as there will not be a progcast to put it in!
THE FINAL SCORES ON THE DOORS FROM THE STODGEBUSTERS
THE 2022/23 ISTHMIAN PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE ROOKS SEASON?
#1. Who scored the Rooks first league goal of the season?
#2. Who was the first team to beat the Rooks this season?
#3. How many of the team that started the first game of the season at Wingate & Finchley started last Monday's game against Bognor Regis Town
#4. How long did it take Joe Taylor to score his first goal of the season?
#5. Aside from ever-present Lewis Carey, which players has made the most appearances this season?
#6. Who are the only side the Rooks have failed to score against this season?
#7. How many penalties has Joe Taylor successfully converted this season?
#8. Have we scored more goals here at the Pan, away from the Pan or the same (as at 15th April)?
#9. Which records in the league do we currently hold? (two answers apply)
#10. How many players have we used this season?
SO, WHERE COULD/ARE WE BE HEADING NEXT SEASON?
Should fate transpire against us and we remain in the Isthmian Premier League next season them which new sides could we be facing? Naturally, there’s still lots to play for in the final two weeks of the season but here’s how it looks at the moment.
Coming down from the National League South
It is almost nailed on that Concord Rangers will be dropping down to Step 3, as they are currently rock bottom of the National League South. Ironically, they may pass local rivals Canvey Island, heading the other way. The second relegated team coming down to the Isthmian Premier League will either be Cheshunt (currently in the final relegation spot) or Dulwich Hamlet (3 points above the drop but having played a game more).
Coming up from Isthmian North
Hashtag United need one more point, or for 2nd place AFC Sudbury to drop a point, in their last two games to win the North division. So whilst it is almost certain Bowers & Pitsea will be relegated from our division, we will still be heading to the delight of the Len Salmon Stadium to face tenants Hashtag next season. AFC Sudbury will be joined in the play-offs by Lowestoft Town, and any two from Heybridge Swifts, Grays Athletic (who will be playing at Tilbury next season), Stowmarket Town and Felixstone & Walton United – although it is likely that if either of the latter two (and Lowestoft) win the play-offs, they would move into the Southern Premier League.
The situation in the Isthmian South Central
Due to the need to “balance” the number of sides at Step 3, there will be some lateral movements and it is likely that will be from the teams coming up in the Isthmian South Central. As it stands, Walton & Hersham are in pole-position thanks to a better goal difference over Basingstoke Town which in turn may have something to do with the 42 goals this season from Eddie Simon, including 20 in his last eight games. But it is highly possible whoever wins the league will move into the Southern League Premier South division. Marlow and Northwood are nailed on for two other play-off spots and they too would probably go into the Southern League. The final play-off spot is still being contested by five sides – Chertsey Town, Hamworth Villa, Binfield, Leatherhead and South Park. Take your pick where they may end up.
Meanwhile, down in the South East
The BIG game of the day last Monday was top of the table Chatham Town hosting 2nd place Ramsgate in front of over 2,500. Chatham won 2-0 and now require just one more point to gain back to back promotions. Ramsgate will have to make do with a play-off spot where Whitehawk will join them. The final two will be from Beckenham Town, Cray Valley Paper Mills, Sheppey United or Hythe Town, separated by just two points although the first two both have a game in hand which puts them in the box seat. Being very selfish, Cray Valley Paper Mills promoted would be my choice as they are 5 minutes down the road for me!
And leaving us, stage left
We’ve already lost Brightlingsea Regent, our longest away trip although the best fish and chips according to the Stodgebusters, and Corinthian-Casuals. Whilst mathematically it is still possible for both Herne Bay or Bowers & Pitsea to survive, they need snookers to overtake Kingstonian so we whilst we will miss a trip to the Kent seaside for the former, we won’t miss the seven goals (the most any side has scored against us this season).
THE 2022/23 ISTHMIAN LEAGUE PARTNERS
LEGALS AND CREDITS
“The Isthmian Football League strongly supports the FA statement that there should be a zero tolerance approach against racism and all forms of discrimination. Accordingly any form of discriminatory abuse whether it by reason of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion and belief, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, sex and sexual orientation or any other form of abuse will be reported to The Football Association for action by that Association.” (The FA 0800 085 0508 / Kick it Out 020 7253 0162).The Isthmian League and all Member Clubs in the League are committed to promoting equality by treating people fairly and with respect, by recognising that inequalities may exist, by taking steps to address them and providing access and opportunities for all members of the community.”
Lewes 2000 FC Limited. Registered in England and Wales with Company Registration Number 03790979. Lewes 2000 FC Limited is 100% owned by Lewes Community Football Club.
Honorary President Terry Parris
Chair Stuart Fuller
Directors 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
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
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR ROOKS SEASON QUIZ – ANSWERS
- Ronan Silva in the 51st minute away at Wingate & Finchley
- Horsham on the 13th September 2023 2-0
- Five – Lew Carey, Tom Champion, Alfie Young, Razz Coleman De-Graft and Deon Moore
- Joe came on as a sub away at Corinthian Casuals in the 64th minute and scored 18 minutes later
- Joe Taylor has made 44 appearances this season, one more than Alfie Young, three more than Tom Champion
- Canvey Island as we have only played them once so far, losing 2-0
- 9 (so far)
- We’ve score 37 here at the Pan but 38 on the road.
- We’ve drawn more games than anyone else (14) but have the least number of defeats (8 – equal with four other sides)
- 31, of which just 20 have played 10 or more games