It took less than 5 minutes before my phone rang with a journalist wanting to try and get the “inside track” after we announced that we had parted company with our previous management team last month. 4 minutes 47 seconds to be precise, which was a good 60 seconds longer than I had said it would be to Club Sec Kev.
Despite being Chairman of Lewes Football Club I still would retain my other duties which meant writing the copy for the website, co-ordinating the publishing of the news across all of our social media channels at once (it is amazing how many Publish/Post/Tweet and Send buttons you can press simultaneously on multiple devices) and answering questions by email, text, phone and post such as “Can you tell me your website address”, “Can I bring my motorbike into the ground?” and one of my all time favourites “Will I be arrested if I streak across the pitch? Does it make a difference if it was for charity?”
I was in high demand whilst we were managerless but as soon as Steve Brown had been appointed, I was dropped like a stone. Even when BBC 5Live’s Non League show came a-calling, they wanted Steve as well as me, as if to play on the whole “interim” situation. We showed them though, with Steve unable to take part in the interview at the last minute, meaning I had a national platform to avoid any difficult questions and turn the conversation onto chips with cheese and gravy.
So a typical home game now means a full week of preparation. As co-editor of the award winning match day programme (have a butcher’s for yourself here) with Barry Collins we have to start planning at least seven days before the game. Content doesn’t write itself. In fact, as with most Non League programme editors, we end up writing virtually the whole programme ourselves, despite all of the promised made by people to write for us.
Another job on match day is to grab the radio microphone and be our cheery PA announcer. Once again, preparation is key – knowing what to say and more importantly, what not to say is all prepared for me by our general manager, Adrian and by the time the teams take to the field, today led by one of Lewes’s oldest and most loyal fans, Ethel, I hope I have spelt phonetically those names that could be problematic. Pre-match duties over there’s time to grab a beer and try and watch some of the game.
Lewes 0 Leiston 2 – Saturday 21st March 2015 – The Dripping Pan
It is always a bad sign when we lose the toss and have to kick towards the Rook Inn in the first half. It does have one main advantage though. It allows me to grab some double-cooked chips with French onion gravy and mature cheddar, although problems arise when the away team opens the scoring when you are mid-mouthful and wasn’t really concentrating. Lesson number 1 – ABC – Always Be Concentrating. I had no idea who had scored. No TV replays, no Rookmeister’s insightful tweets, no John Murray in my ear. Instinct takes over and you judge which player was getting the applause of his team mates.
“Opening goal this afternoon scored in the ….” checks clock “19th minute by, I think, number 8 Gareth Heath”. I look for a reaction from the players to see if any of them looked confused at the announcement. They didn’t. I think I had got away with that one.
Lesson number 2 – ABC (again) Always Be Checking. I’d already announced the Golden Goal. It went in after 18 minutes 58 seconds and thus the 19th minute. I unfolded my Golden Goal ticket. 20 minutes. Two seconds out. Nobody would have batted an eyelid if I announced 20 minutes.
Goal number two for Leiston was as problematic as the first. Free-kick on edge of box, pinballs in the area and the number 11 celebrates like mad, running off to celebrate with the five away fans. The rest of the team all rush to congratulate the number 4. Who would you give the goal to? I said 4, Club Sec Kev posted on Football Web Pages it was number 11, Boysie thought it was number 5 and Twitter suggested it was an own goal.
The second half saw Lewes lay siege to the Leiston goal. Well, by siege I mean we pushed forward and tried to get the ball into the danger area and test the keeper. For all the good approach play, Danny Gay will have much busier afternoons than he had at The Dripping Pan. Then Tom Davis got himself sent off by blasting a spare ball that had strayed onto the playing surface into the opposition dug out. Despite being only a few yards away, and the bench being full, he missed everyone – a fact that summed up the whole Lewes afternoon. Davis departed and so should have the Rooks hope.
But we were 2-0 down (“the most dangerous score line in football” according to football expert David Pleat) and down to ten men (“the most dangerous formation in football” according to football expert David Pleat). What a combination. How could we fail? Well, we did. Two-nil was the final score and our hopes for a “we are staying up” celebration party would have to be put on ice for another week, or so.
Post match I complete my duties by wishing our visitors all the best for the rest of the season before heading into the debrief with our management team. The ground is long-empty by the time we leave. It’s been a long week and we have nothing to show for all of our collective effort bar a litter-strewn terrace. But we will be back to do it all again when Enfield Town come to visit on Wednesday.