Saturday 26th June 2021 – Pre-season Friendly – The Sports Park, Peacehaven
Two hundred and thirty eight days. That is how long some Lewes fans had gone without seeing the club play. For those brave few who made it to Lowestoft Town on a cold, wet and windy day back on the last weekend of October, walking into the Sports Park at Peacehaven on a warm and sunny afternoon, it must have felt like a different world. And in many ways it was.
Nobody wins the league, the cup or is relegated in pre-season. Whilst most fans know that it is about the performance not the result, that first game back is always a nervous one, especially when there has been so many changes at a club. Since the season was officially brought to an end in March, the Rooks have replaced their management team and so far seen major changes in the playing squad. However, for the opening game of the 2021/22 pre-season it would be a young side, with a liberal sprinkling of trialists and some of last year’s squad taking the field at Southern Combination Peacehaven & Telscombe.
Whilst this was a run out for the extended squad, it was also an important step both for the hosts and the fans. Having decided not to take part in the competition organised in May, Peacehaven & Telscombe were welcoming fans back into the ground for the first time since October themselves and it was great to see so many familiar faces in attendance. The bar was open, the burgers were being flipped and many fans were seeing each other for the first time in months.
Naturally, there was lots to talk about, especially the coming season and how both teams would fair in their respective leagues. Lewes took to the field in their new green shirts, brought in to stop any repeats of kit clashes last season for the Women’s side when they face Sheffield United and Sunderland this season, but also meaning that temporary kit washer, Ed B, didn’t have to worry too much about having a freshly laundered strip for next week’s game when we can return to red and black.
It was no surprise to see the first half was a tight affair, with many of the Rooks players never having played, and in some cases, met their team mates. But that is the nature of pre-season games – familiarity builds confidence as the weeks progress. A single, headed goal by “trialist A” was the difference between the two sides at the break.
Some of the familiar names in the Lewes side were replaced at half time, with youth being the key word on the pitch. Three further goals in the second period were academic to the performance and the first view in a game situation for the management team of the wider squad.
The result was irrelevant. Peacehaven & Telscombe had been impeccable hosts and the fans had enjoyed the afternoon in the sunshine. Football isn’t always so kind and so it is important to enjoy these moments when you can.