67 seconds of joy


Football can be a cruel game sometimes.  Often you try to do the right thing, even though you know the end result may not work in your favour.  There are few football fans who don’t love to see players that have grown up with a club pull on the shirt and play their heart out.  Badge kissing in these circumstances is allowable.  But few players these days are one-club icons.  In the Non-Leagues where money is less (I stress “less” rather than “not”) of an issue, you will often get some club loyalty.  On Wednesday night when Met Police were visitors to the Dripping Pan, their manager Jim Cooper was celebrating his 12th year in charge of the club.  Whilst he may have masterminded his team’s victory over Lewes, how much of his preparation focused on the inexperience and youth of our team?

FullSizeRender (1)Faced with a reduced budget, managers have two choices – cut their cloth accordingly, or move on.  Lewes boss Steve Brown is certainly in the former camp – in fact he positively encouraged us to invest in the youngsters, and the future development of them.  “Some weeks they will get battered out there, but on the other side some weeks they will have the crowd purring”.  Whilst you can’t read much into pre-season games, there was certainly evidence of the latter in those games.  There was also evidence of the former in the first game of the season at Leatherhead.

We want to be a progressive club, so we have embraced Social Media as too have many other clubs at our level.  That includes having our games recorded and shared across the excellent Football Exclusives platform.  For those fans unable to get to a game, the ability to access highlights is fantastic.  It’s also very useful for opposing teams in terms of scouting, especially as they can pause and rewind the action to take notes.  Was there any surprise that Met Police played lots of high balls into the area in the first half on Wednesday night when they know we have a 17-year old making his full debut? No, but even at this level of the game you will try everything to get a slight competitive advantage.

So whilst you may feel that pride of seeing the players you have developed come through to make their first team debut, you also know that opponents will try to exploit that inexperience.  But on the other hand, every minute these young players is a minute’s more experience.

Of course I wouldn’t be writing these notes if we had got off to a flyer in our opening two games and were sitting top of the league.  Alas, we were propping up the 23 other teams (albeit on alphabetical order).  Our visitors Harrow Borough were up there with the teams of the season in the Ryman Premier League last year out.  Whilst they finished in the bottom eight, they were effectively dead and buried with a dozen games to go.  Then they found some guts, passion and a will to win.  Those final twelve games resulted in 25 points and safety assured with their win at the Dripping Pan in early April.

Just 24 hours after the visit of Harrow Borough to The Dripping Pan I would be heading north to take in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round game between AFC Emley and Parkgate.  There was no footballing reason for this one – no player to have a look at or team to scout.  It was a bit of a jolly.  But what did make me smile was the message on the Emley website that defined their mission:-

“We are a small club with very little money but what we can do, we try to do well and do “the right way”. On the playing side our vision is to develop the best local talent who want to succeed for the club and community we serve. The emphasis is on development of players who want to succeed for OUR club. This vision is underpinned, on and off the pitch, by the values of communication, respect, responsibility and solidarity.”

Who can not agree with that at our level, yet how many clubs and their owners are prepared to compromise those principles at the slightest whiff of some money? But back to today and the search for our opening points of the season.

Lewes 1 Harrow Borough 1 – The Dripping Pan – Saturday 15th August 2015
For 67 glorious seconds we had a taste of victory.  That’s how long we held the lead for after opening the scoring in the 87th minute.  It was a tad harsh on the Rooks who built on their second half on Wednesday with an assured if unspectacular performance today.  Whilst the visitors will point to a goal disallowed midway through the second half, they rarely put young Stroomberg’s goal under threat.

Despite dominating first half possession it took Lewes until the final minute of the half to create a chance when the tireless Jimmy Muitt broke free of his marker on the half-way line, accelerated away, rounded the keeper but took the ball too wide.  He got his shot in which was cleared off the line, picked up the rebound which was cleared off the line again.

FullSizeRender (3)Lewes came close to taking the lead on the hour mark when Lovett’s snap shot was smartly saved by the Boro’ keeper, then the visitors thought they’d taken the lead when Page headed home at the far post from a well-worked free-kick but was deemed to have been offside.  The main talking point came in the 79th minute when Peacock’s clumsy challenge on Muitt saw the young Lewes striker leave the field on a stretcher.  Peacock, booked in the first half somehow escaped a second yellow despite taking out the Lewes forward in the air.

Muitt’s replacement Nathan Crabb won a penalty when his quick feet tied the Harrow defenders in knots and he was tripped.  No complaints and no mercy shown by Leon Redwood’s spot-kick.  The relief that spread across the ground lasted just over 60 seconds before Lewes were undone at the far post again and Taylor headed home unmarked.  The drama wasn’t over as in the final minute keeper Stroomberg pulled up with what looked like a hamstring problem.  Fortunately, the ball stayed up the other end long enough for the referee to blow the final whistle.

The point lifted the Rooks out of the bottom four, although the table really means nothing at this stage.  The crowd – a disappointing 372.  We can look for mitigating circumstances such as the Summer Holidays, a small travelling support or the travel chaos around the ground due to the bridge repairs and college car parks closed.  Football fans are impatient.  They want success right here, right now.  As a fan I understand that, as someone invested in developing something special here at Lewes I’d hate to see fans missing out when this squad start to click and injuries withstanding, that could be just around the corner.

Tales from a Non-League Chairman – Part 5 – Big Brother isn’t watching you


“They hold odd, popular, unrivaled bonfire day rituals in the Sussex town. And the flame has now spread to the club at the Dripping Pan, no longer the site of monastic industry. Or even cricket. Every football match here now is an event – a happening, a shining, film-like. Indeed, a cinematic blockbuster poster is made in the run-up to every home game, weaving the visiting team into the plot, the script, the acknowledgements, the respect due. English eccentricity is alive and well down here: beach huts have been installed to overlook the pitch, ridiculing corporate boxes.” Stuart Roy Clarke – March 2015

Lewes aren’t alone in sitting on the doorstep of a much bigger club.  However, we are relatively unique in the fact that we pre-existed in our current home for over 125 years before Brighton & Hove Albion moved 5 miles down the road into the impressive American Express Community Stadium at Falmer.  Northern Premier League One side Droylsden FC may also fit into this bracket, having played at the Butchers Arms ground since 1892 and around 110 years before Manchester City were parachuted into their stadium, built for the 2006 Commonwealth Games around 2.5 miles down the Ashton New Road.

IMG_3601Before I start, let me first say that nobody begrudges the Seagulls their stadium or the success they have experienced since moving from the basic surrounds of the Withdean.  As a club we have a great working relationship with The Albion and long may it continue. My weekly drive down to the Dripping Pan includes that magical moment when you round the bend on the A27 at Stanmer and the stadium looms into view.  Apart from a dozen or so Premier League clubs, who wouldn’t want to call the stadium at Falmer their home?  I could wax lyrical about the small touches that mean from a Fan Experience view it rates up there with the best.  Heck, 24 hours previous to our game today I was actually sitting in the North Stand myself with a chicken and ham pie watching the Seagulls take on Norwich City. My tale today relates of the pains in trying to appease everyone whilst pleasing no one.

It doesn’t take much logic to realise that if we were scheduled to play at the same time on the same day as Brighton & Hove Albion our crowds suffer.  We have a number of fans who support both their local Non-League club and the big boys down the road.  East Sussex is relatively tribal in terms of football following and the fact that The Seagulls can boast an average attendance in excess of 25,000, some fifty times bigger than Lewes’s means we have to look out for when their fixtures are and not vice-versa.  Fortunately, there have only been three occasions this season where we have had a direct clash.  There would have been a fourth, on the sacred football watching day (to some) of Boxing Day.  The impact?  Hard to exactly quantify but let’s look at the facts:-

Clash 1 – Saturday 20th September 2015
Brighton & Hove Albion welcomed Blackpool to the Amex, whilst Maidstone United were visitors at The Dripping Pan.  Arguably this would be Lewes’s biggest away crowd of the season as The Stones travel in big numbers and it being one of their more local games (just a 38 mile trip) on a nice day we welcomed around 150 fans in a crowd of 621.  Lewes’ previous Saturday game against Wingate & Finchley (away fans 30) had been 683 on Non-League Day, so all things being equal I would have expected a crowd in normal circumstances of around 700.  However, the gate at the Amex was 24,579, down by over 1,200 on their first three games of the season, although you do need to factor in a relatively small traveling support from Lancashire.  The winners here?  Brighton & Hove Albion.

Clash 2 – Saturday 25th October 2015
Without a league win for almost two months and facing a Metropolitan Police side who brought 1 fan (that we could see) there wasn’t much surprise to see the attendance for this one to be as low as 426.  However, just down the road Brighton welcomed Rotherham United and the 24,370 was the lowest attendance they had had for a Saturday game so far in the season.  New manager honeymoon period wearing off, or simply another low turn out from the away fans?  The winners here?  Lewes by a hair’s breadth.  But what if I now throw in that the Lewes game kicked off at 12.30pm?  That surely was the compelling event that saw the respectable Lewes attendance?

Clash 3 – Saturday 7th February 2015
Lewes, injury and suspension hit, in the middle of another sag in form, welcomed Hendon on a cold February day.  Whilst the visitors were steaming up the league, they have not been able to boast significant traveling support for a number of seasons.  Even so, a crowd of just 364 saw a barn-storming game of sending offs and outfield players going in goal.  Down the road, The Seagulls hosted Nottingham Forest with over 26,000 watching the game.  Hard to argue with those stands and the obvious winner was Brighton.

IMG_3613Of course in all of these instances, the amount of revenue we saw on match day may not be proportional.  For instance, we had very high bar takings for the game versus Maidstone United simply because the proportion of adults in the crowd of 621 was more than in the game against Met Police because visiting fans do not tend to bring many Under16’s, who spend less on alcohol (we hope).  Our issue of whether to move a game or not if there is a clash is a difficult one.  In some ways we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.  If we would have moved the games against Maidstone United or Hendon, would we have got more fans?  That will depend on when the game was played.  A Friday night match experiment has been talked out and that may have worked for Maidstone, with relative short distances to travel, whilst an early kick off such as the game against Met Police does seem to have a more positive outcome.  Over the past few seasons where we have gone head to head there is a noticeable reduction in our gate, so we would be mad not to at least try to move a game.  It isn’t an easy decision to make – not only do we have to weigh up the mood of our fans but also have to approach the Ryman League and our opponents.  Most will be more accommodating for a change to an earlier Saturday kick off, few like the idea of a Friday night or Sunday game though for obvious traveling reasons.

CBwSqC5WMAEUBZEOne of the hottest topics on the forum this season was around the shifting of our Christmas game against Bognor Regis Town.  Originally schemed for Boxing Day, the game would have clashed with Brighton’s game with Reading.  Despite the lack of public transport on the day, we felt that our gate would suffer with fans who come out in force for their Christmas jolly having to decide one or the other.  Interestingly enough, we weren’t the only Ryman Premier League club who had the same thoughts, with eight of the twelve scheduled games eventually being moved from Boxing Day.  Our reasons for moving?  Sure, the fact that Brighton were at home was at the forefront of our thinking as well as the opinions of our fans although like most clubs, there is only a very small minority who ever make themselves heard (whether it is a pro or against a fixture change), but so was the fact the 27th was actually a Saturday, and by moving it back to then, we were still retaining the traditional 3pm Saturday kick-off.  Bognor, and their fans, were more than happy with the move as it meant that they could use public transport.  Consequently the 1,007 crowd is still the best at the Dripping Pan this season, and interestingly 14% up on the corresponding fixture played on Boxing Day in 2012.

16963714471_e3e49beaec_bFortunately, the Championship decided to schedule their Easter games on Good Friday meaning that we had no difficult decisions to make with regard to our six-pointer against Harrow Borough.  The visitors were dead and buried a month ago but then the players appear to have seen the flight and arrived in Lewes on the back of a seven game unbeaten run that has yielded fifteen points, ten of which have been against other relegation-threatened teams and consequently lifted them out of the bottom four for the first time since Christmas.  This sounds a little like deja-vous but a win would see the Rooks as good as safe, whilst defeat would really see the nerves creep in with just three weeks to go until the end of the season.  The good news – 70% of our points had come from our home games this season.  The bad news, we had taken less than a point on average from the games we played against the teams in the bottom ten.  Let’s just focus on the good news, shall we?

Lewes 0 Harrow Borough 1 – The Dripping Pan – Saturday 4th April 2015
At 4:43pm Lewes were in 15th position.  Essentially the league at the moment is divided into 5 clear section.  The top 3 (with 3 teams competing for top spot, obviously), the Play-off contenders (the next 9 clubs), No-man’s land (Basically Leatherhead and Billericay Town who can’t go up or down), Bury Town (relegated already) and a ten team battleground to avoid the three other relegation spaces. 15th represented being “top of the league” in that last section.  At 4:47pm we had dropped two places, but more importantly conceded defeat to Harrow Borough, one of our rivals.

IMG_361592 minutes were on the clock when Lewis Driver tapped home unmarked at the far post to give Harrow the win.  Was it fair?  Was it unjust?  Can we blame the referee for not giving a free kick or adding on too much time?  Absolutely not.  Football is an unpredictable game – that’s its beauty.  Harrow weathered the Lewes storm (well, a mild gust to be honest as we rarely tested the Harrow keeper) and scored after not one, but two Lewes players slipped in possession.  The referee?  Didn’t put a foot wrong in my opinion all afternoon – nice to see one who seemed to enjoy letting the players take centre stage rather than his decisions.

Obviously at the final whistle, Harrow celebrated like Prince told us to 33 years ago, whilst the Lewes players looked like they had been listening to too much Radiohead.  It was fair to say that the dressing room wasn’t a lively and bubbly place to be post match.  However, other results didn’t cause us too much damage and there is the opportunity on Monday to get that vital win when the Rooks travel to Bognor Regis Town.

The crowd?  643 since your asking with a dozen or so Norwich City fans taking the opportunity to take in a second game in twenty-four hours, probably double what we could have expected if Brighton had decided to play at 3pm on a Saturday rather than Friday.  Everyone’s a winner.

Pitch perfect


harrow_2013-282x400It may have escaped the attentions of thousands of football fans in England who get their kicks watching the Premier and Football League in recent weeks, but us little old Non-League clubs haven’t had a good Christmas or New Year.  The persistent rain in the past 4 weeks has seen Lewes lose four league games to the weather, including the two money-spinning Christmas home games against AFC Hornchurch and Maidstone United.  The latter game on New Year’s Day would have seen the first, and almost certainly, only four figure crowd at The Pan this season.  We can say with some confidence that the postponement of that game alone will have cost the club thousands of pounds which we have no way of getting back.

But today is a story of unsung heroes.  Throughout the last few weeks our Pitch Team, brothers Jack and Joe, along with our General Manager and Club Sec Kev and put in hours at all times of day and night to get pitches ready.  Super human effort on New Year’s Eve trying to clear the pitch of water when everyone else was tucking into their JaegerBombs went unthanked by the weather as just as they had got the grass in shape, another deluge overnight made it unplayable. Continue reading

A Harrowing experience


This week has been painful for us Lewes fans. Our league position and survival hopes were in the hands of others as all of our relegation rivals played, some twice, between Tuesday and Thursday. There, of course, was an ideal sequence of events, but that was never going to happen. The form book was also a guide to how the results went, but once again, that went out of window.

Twitter is a great invention for us football fans as we can get up to the second score updates, but only if people are there and able to relay events first hand. Tuesday night’s game between Cray Wanderers and East Thurrock United was watched by around 150 brave souls, yet it appeared no one thought of sending updates on the score, least of all the two clubs involved. The Nonleaguelive website is fantastic but can sometimes lead you astray as it automatically assumes a game is 0-0 unless it gets updates. So whilst we were happy to see the game still at stalemate at half time, there had in fact been two goals. For those who remember the good ol’ days of watching a vital game unfold on Ceefax, this was just as painful.

8665805297_edab5d1f10_bOn Tuesday night Hastings United finished their game at Hendon with 8 men, after 3 were sent off. On Thursday Thurrock ended with 9 against Lowestoft Town, yet for some bizarre reason neither team will be penalised in the final games of the season with suspensions as the cut off point for this season has already passed. The odds on those five still being at their respective clubs next season is slim so what message is that sending out? Perhaps the clubs will be asked to explain their actions to the Ryman League, but what will that achieve?  In the Premier League, or Football League, suspensions kick in almost immediately. Why can’t non leagues adopt the same model? Doesn’t this send out a message that foul play is acceptable at the end of the season?  Another ridiculous non league rule that needs to be revised, although I am sure they are simply too busy planning their end of season gala dinner (which, by the way EVERY club has to buy at least four tickets for…that’s fair, right?). Continue reading

A Harrowing experience


Just under twenty fours prior to the Saturday’s home game with Harrow Borough I got a text.  Nothing unusual about that – I tend to get a couple of dozen a day.  But this one requested my services.  Again, nothing unusual about that as I am a talented chap in the world of Brand Management, but this one was a demand for my voice.

It’s been a few years since I prepared to go onstage and sing to a crowd.  Back in the early Nineties, my chum (In)Active Matt and I regularly used to wow crowds in the pubs and clubs of Chiswick.  It was a way to earn some extra cash but the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle wasn’t for us.  We had artistic differences around whether we should become a tribute act.  I quite fancied turning our act into a Proclaimers Tribute act (Againstclaimers), whilst Matt wanted us to be Michael Bolton & the Wanderers.  So we split, agreeing never to pick up the microphone again.  But nearly twenty years later I was agreeing to step back onto the stage again, albeit as match day announcer for Lewes’s game against Harrow Borough.

With Bob away, nobody fancied doing it.  “Hang on”, said Charlie “We have a Communications Director.  This is all about communication and directing so it is Stuart’s job”.  End of story.

So I had a few hours to come up with some “patter” and “banter”.  Crowd engagement increases the audience experience, as I have always said.  So I put my thinking cap on, and remembered one of the best ever pieces of football commentary.  Let me take you back to September 1981.  The place?  Oslo.  The event?  Norway versus England.  The result?  Norway, ranked somewhere in the 60’s in world football took on and beat Ron Greenwood’s England.  To say it was a shock in world football is an understatement.  But it was the passionate reaction from a virtual unknown outside of the fjords, Bjørge Lillelien that would go down in history.  His 45 second rant against the English after the game is now legendary (you can hear it here) and my inspiration.

His speech went down in history as a battle cry for David against Goliath. And with our form so far this season being in the “could do better” category, what better way for me to take the microphone and rally the Lewes fans after a win against Harrow with a slightly edited version, focusing on those famous residents of HA1.

“We’re the best in the Ryman Premier League. We’ve beaten Harrow Borough. It’s completely unbelievable. Harrow, birthplace of giants. Todd Carty – you needed Tucker’s luck today? Where was it?We have beaten them all. We have beaten them all. Benedict Cumberbatch – You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to realise your boys were second best today. Patrick Moore – no use turning your eyes skywards, today’s defeat stares you in the face. Linsey Dawn McKenzie – what a set of tits your defence were this afternoon. We’ve beaten them all. We have beaten them all.

Barbara Windsor can you hear me now? JLS I have a message for you. We have knocked you down a few places in the Ryman Premier. Peter André – as they say in your language in the wine bars around Harrow on the Hill – your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took one hell of a beating.”

I couldn’t wait to stand in the middle of the pitch rallying the fans….of course we had to win first but that was long overdue.  What could go wrong?

It had been a long week in TBIR towers. I was forced to sit out the nil nil draw with Hendon on Tuesday, although it didn’t sound like I missed much. Morale boosting trips to the troops in Stockholm and Copenhagen had seen delays of over 5 hours due to fog, and even the debut of the Tuborg Julebryg, the Danish Christmas beer, didn’t lift spirits (OK so it did for an hour or two). The Movember moustache was at the difficult point of being constantly moving in the corner of my eye, leading to excessive top lip wiping and to top it all I found out that I hadn’t actually won €67 million in the European Official Lottery despite the email I received from David Cameroon (sic).

A pint of Harvey’s, a Rooks Pie and a chance to deliver my speech when we won would be the perfect tonic. Not too much to ask for is it?

Lewes 1 Harrow Borough 1 – The Dripping Pan – Saturday 17th November 2012
As Meat Loaf famously sang, “Two out of three ‘ain’t bad”.  But in this case I would have traded the Harvey’s Blue Label and the Steak and Ale encrusted in pastry for the win.  It was a frustrating afternoon, summed up by the fact that there were goals galore everywhere else in the division, yet at The Pan the game’s two decisive moments both came within ninety seconds of each other, and both definitely down to big defensive mistakes.

The first half saw both teams create a number of good chances.  Harrow’s centre forward was Danny “The Unit” Buckle, a player who had a spell at Lewes a few years ago and earned legendary status for his mobility and first touch.  It was good to see that he showed no sign of losing his instinct for goal, blazing wide after five minutes when the whole net gaped open.

At the other end, all the talk of the Jungle was the various Movember moustaches on offer.  We had ex-Lewes Director Nick Williams’s Hulk Hogan effort, Cynical Dave’s Ron Jeremy but the star of the show was undoubtably Dave Lamb.  Not only was he sporting a Clark Gable, but had also slipped on a smoking jacket and a snazzy scarf.

Twenty minutes in and Lord Plumpton remarked how poor Lowestoft compared to their league position.  Puzzled faces all around..”You mean Harrow?”..”No, I mean Lowestoft.  Don’t you know who we are playing today?”.  When we told him, he asked if he could get his money back as he was here on false pretence. Jim is a Stoke fan.  Let’s leave it at that.

Despite striking the post and seeing the Harrow keeper Elvijs Puntins pulling off a couple of good saves, it somehow remained scoreless at the break.  I did my announcements and filled my pockets with boardroom sandwiches ready for the second half.  I didn’t have to wait long for the first piece of action to announce.  After spending a minute or so eulogizing the form of Lewis Hamilton this season he then under hit a pass-back to Thorp.  Thorp tried to clear his lines but his kick was charged down by Harrow Borough’s Akinola and the ball rebounded off his shins and into the empty Lewes net.

No sooner had I completed my announcements about the golden goal than I turned around to see the ball rolling very slowly towards an empty Harrow net.  I had no idea what happened.  I waited for the announcement to tell me who scored, then realised people were looking at me.  Shit.  I had no idea who scored, so I told it like it was….”And the scorer of the equaliser for Lewes was….” I paused, looked towards Deaks, Dave, Kev, Jim…anyone…but they hadn’t seen it either…”I don’t know but what the heck, it’s one all!”.

It turned out it was Anthony Thomas, capitalising on a mix up between the keeper (Elvijs had certainly left the building) and the defender.  This was a winnable game.  It became even more so when the Harrow skipper Burgess was sent off for a second (harsh) yellow.  He was soon joined by BBC Non League Show’s and Harrow Borough’s manager, Dave Anderson, sent to the changing rooms by the referee.  His crime?  He said to the referee “You are like a kid on Christmas Day”…Abuse?  Threatening?  Racial?  Offensive?  None of the above.  Poor decision.

Harrow finished the game the stronger and whilst Lewes had the man advantage, they couldn’t force the possession.  So it was another win-less game, although it meant our unbeaten league run at The Pan now stretched back to August.

But my most disappointing part of the afternoon was that I couldn’t deliver my eulogy.  Instead I had another pint of Harvey’s thrust into my hand in terms of payment for my service.  Perhaps it’s not too late for me to make it as a performer..on second thoughts, I couldn’t cope with all that underwear being thrown at me – you never know where its been!

Well that was one hell of a season


So it all comes down to just 90 minutes of football.  The whole season will be decided not only by events at The Dripping Pan, but also at Grosvenor Vale, HA7 and Ram Meadow, Bury St Edmunds.  Despite the excellent form of the Rooks over the past two months with 23 points from a possible 33 and topping the current form charts, those pesky Stones from the place on the Weald simply kept on winning as well, and despite their ridiculous back log of fixtures caused by their FA Trophy run (again the league punish the teams who represent their league better than anyone else), they simply kept on winning, finally breaking into the play off places with a win at Margate on Tuesday night.  Bury Town on the other hand had hit a patch of poor form at the wrong time, losing points here, there and everywhere.  But as they faced rudderless Tooting and Mitcham it was hard to see how they could get anything but three points.

In the twenty four hours before the game the good luck messages started streaming into the club.

“Good luck, fellas. Win or lose, play-offs or not, it’s been a terrific season. But stay off the pies and Harveys until full-time.”

“Good luck and whatever happens thanks for a memorable season and hopefully both the players and management remain for next year.”

“Come on you lovely lot, we’re right behind you! Possibly eating chips & drinking beer, but supporting you all the way. COYR!”

“from a new found supporter and now owner, all of Rome is behind you! Good luck and do what you do best, win :) Ciao, a presto!”

Even the rain that had blighted Southern England could not dampen the spirit of the fans.  The pies were ready, the beer had been poured.  Our bumper end of season programme was selling like hot cakes (have a look for yourselves here) and our club shop had been decimated like a pack of locusts by the fans wanting their Rooks merchandise.  After a week of remarkable football scores in the Champions League that had seriously upset the odds, was there going to be one final twist that would cause shock waves across the Ryman League?  Only time would tell.  That and constant refreshing of Non League Live. Continue reading

The United front of Tooting and Mitcham


W H Smith

Wolfie Smith…The most lovable revolutionary in history, leader of the Tooting Popular Front.  Mitcham. Named after Robert Mitchum in honour of his fine performance in the 1944  film Mr Winkle goes to War.  Put them both together and what do you have? A united front, in fact a Tooting & Mitcham United.  It is amazing how the longer I write, the more tenuous my introductions can get.

Located in a golden triangle of Ryman Premier teams, you would think that business would be booming for Ryman Premier League Tooting & Mitcham United. Sutton United, just two miles to the south west seem to be nailed on for the title this year, and Carshalton Athletic two miles to the south east seem to be back on the way up after a season in the wilderness. So why isn’t the story from down the on Imperial Fields more positive? Continue reading