Being a football fan means having to take the rough with the smooth. You often hear manager’s bemoan their luck when decisions don’t go their way, or when a break in a game goes against them. “Over the course of the season, these things even themselves out” is a line straight out of the David Pleat Talking Bollocks guide – they don’t. Football has a habit of building us up with hope then cruelly knocking us down.
After our last minute defeat to Tonbridge Angels on Tuesday, The Rooks fell to the bottom of the league. It has now become irrelevant on how others are doing – it is all about us. 100% focus on preparation for each game, with a no-lose mentality. As fans we have unconditional love for our team. Some fans may show signs of weakness when times get tough – although if you listen to a Chelsea fan of a certain age they will swear blind that they stood back in the day on the crumbling Shed when the team battled against relegation to the third tier of English football. Amazing how they were the best supported team back then, eh!
Each game brings a new challenge. As a fan you look at the stats, trying to find some crumb of comfort from recent form or head to head results against our opponent. For the visit of Kingstonian there wasn’t anything particularly warming about either. It’s now been 240 days since we last won a home game, whether that is a league, cup or friendly. Since our last win against Enfield Town we’ve seen a new government elected, One Direction split up and England win the Ashes – global events that have shaped our world, yet still The Rooks can’t find that win at home.
Everyone I bumped into at the ground when I arrived at 1.30pm told me “we’re going to win today”. I had that same confidence. The performances in the last two games against Hailsham Town and Tonbridge Angels had been encouraging to say the least. A win today and all would be well with the world, enough to warm even the coldest heart on a freezing afternoon.
Lewes 1 Kingstonian 2 – The Dripping Pan – Saturday 21st November 2015
It all started so well. Four minutes in and a smart move saw Henry Muggeridge slot the ball home. The sense of relief both on the and off the pitch was palpable. Some teams in a similar position would have immediately retreated but Lewes kept the tempo up, trying to find a second. Whilst the half ended more on a whimper than a bang, we went in ahead for the first time in sixteen games. Darren Freeman’s half-time teamtalk revolved around not sitting back. So what did we do?
We sat back and allowed Kingstonian to come into the game. It could have been all over with twenty minutes to go when Richard Pacquette’s shot across the keeper bounced back off the bar. Two-nil would have been game, set and match.
One of the soft underbellies of Lewes in recent years has been conceding late, crucial goals. Tonbridge Angels (lost 1-0), Hampton & Richmond Borough (lost 2-1), Billericay Town (lost 3-2), Harrow Borough (drew 1-1) this season alone. So when Kingstonian threw on veteran striker Ricky Sappleton in place of a centre-back with five minutes to go, the sense of foreboding swept across the terrace. It took him 90 seconds to score the equaliser and a further 3 minutes to grab the winner. Words couldn’t descibe the feeling as we saw all 11 Kingstonian players, bench and fans celebrate the goal in the far corner. To give the players credit they pressed for an equaliser. Laing ran into the box but was scythed down. Penalty!!! Not if you are a referee who is 20 yards behind play it isn’t. Free-kick a yard outside of the box. Thanks for that.
Not all defeats are the same. When you are truly beaten you need to hold your hands up and say “fair do’s”. But when you lose in such a manner, time after time you are simply lost for words. Whilst Bill Shankley said football was more important than life itself it isn’t. It hurts when you lose, deeply when you in a situation like ours. But what can you do? You can’t change the past only the future. So we go back to the drawing board and plan for 3 points next week at Staines Town.