Ryan’s Story

RyanNow that the world has started to spin on its correct axis after the earth shattering launch of the TBIR/EFW Trophy last week, we are pleased to have secured an exclusive interview with our “player in the game”, Ryan Storrie. Ryan will give us periodic updates through the season on life in the non-leagues, as well as what it is like to have over 500 Facebook friends.

We will let Ryan take you through his Storrie (sorry, couldn’t resist)

So Ryan gives us the potted history of your career to date?Local football, was chosen to represent Sussex schools and then Sussex FA in county games.I also played in the Brazillian Soccer School national side (Micah Richards also played for Them). I went for a few trials here And there before ending up at Lewes, which I was chuffed with as I was born down the road in Brighton. I made my debut away at Kettering Town. Last year Dave (Wheeler) and I went On A weeks trial at Southampton which went well. we were invited back for pre-season but all of the turmoil meant we started the season back here at Lewes. Its a good club and Jason was the manager I played under for Sussex FA so when he asked I jumped at the chance. Last season went well, even when the “Bishop” started dishing out his banter from the terraces!”

And this season?Well I can only concentrate on what is going on on the pitch and my performances. We have enough in us to be in the top half of the table, and a good FA Cup run would be nice! Anthony Barness (Barny) knows this league and he gives us a pep talk before each game as to what to expect from the opposition. I am looking forward to the game on New Years Day against Dover. They are one of the favourites in the league, have a bit of cash behind them and get decent crowds. It will also be nice to play instead of watching a game on New Years Day for once! I also need to improve as a player – consistency is one of my aims. I know I can do some really good stuff, but I can also do some silly things as well. It should come with age and experience – I hope! I also need to score a few goals, if only I can give Crabby a run for the TBIR/EFW Cup! I also need to spend more time reflecting on my game, looking at how I can cement a place in the team.”

Talking of the FA cup, who would you love to play?Chelsea away! I grew up as a Chelsea fan and went to my first ever game when I was 6 (a 2-0 defeat to Leeds United I think) so it would be great to play them. After all, Havant & Waterlooville played Liverpool two years ago. I think as a team we would love to play Brighton & Hove Albion – there are a few of the lads who were released by them and would love to get some on the field revenge!”

What is your matchday routine?Depends on where we are playing. This season we will do less travelling so there wont be many overnight trips. So hopefully a lay in will be a good start, a light lunch of beans on toast, then to the ground. I like to warm up with the rest of the team, and whilst I haven’t got any superstitions I do like to put on a bit of Oasis’s cigarettes & Alcohol to get me ready. I would say that my style of play is quite old fashioned in that I am direct, tricky and energetic and if I could I would play without boots and shinpads!”

What are some of your career highpoints?Playing at St Andrews, home of Birmingham City was one of my high points, getting to the 3rd round of the Youth Cup last season with Lewes and being asked to go to Southampton rank up there. I am also very pleased to be playing alongside such players as Anthony Barness and Danny Cullip who are first class. Hopefully the best is yet to come”

Do you have time to read the newspapers or listen to the radio? “I am an Internet guru so I tend to log onto Sky Sports News a few times a day to see who is interested in buying me lol! I have followed the events at Manchester City with interest. It is not much different to the events at Chelsea when Abramovich initially took over, but it is frustrating for clubs like us when we are struggling to get a few thousand pounds through the gate when others are paying silly money for players. I also watch in disbelief at the money paid for agents for simply taking a percentage of your wages for something you could do yourself. Cristiano Ronaldo worth the money? Well at the end of the day if someone is prepared to pay that sort of cash then good luck to them. I’d be happy with John Terry on loan for awhile!”

So now onto the interesting stuff. Tell us something people wont know about you?Well, to keep it clean for the family audience it would have to be that I am known as “Arnie” by most of my friends.  I am also helping out doing some coaching with the Lewes in the Community scheme, and am starting a more formal coaching programme next month with National Coaching Academy.”

So what are you going to do with the £10,000 you stand to win for the TBIR/EFW Cup at the end of the season?A massive p*ss up, a better car, a holiday and whack the rest on a bet. I really liked Monte Carlo when I went there with the cars and yachts on show.”

Sorry, I meant £10!Oh well, I suppose I could try a night out in Lewes and have a Harveys or two – an experience I am yet to try. Ten pounds will see me right for the night as long as its after a Saturday night game!”

Many thanks Ryan and we wish you the best of luck for the season.

The Boys of Summer

Bank Holiday Monday. A British institution of visiting DIY stores and slaving over a barbecue signalling the last rites of Summer. It is actually statistically more likely to be hot and sunny than any other day in the summer despite it being over 60 days since Midsummer’s Eve (well according to the BBC weather statistics page anyway). So what did I have planned? Well a trip “down the lane” to watch Bromley v Lewes with the EFW team for starters (I’d actually been to B & Q four times the day before, attended two BBQ’s and even slipped in two trips to the tip to satisfy the traditionalists)

Bromley are a bit of an enigma. Almost stuck at this level, yet one of the most progressive non-league clubs in the country. Forty years ago it had was very similar. Having just read the excellent “The Bromley Boys” by Dave Roberts on the 29th August 1969 the club lost 2-1 at home to Clapton, their 7th consecutive defeat in the Isthmian League. Fast forward forty years and the club are almost at home in the middle of the Blue Square South division.

The club were actually formed in 1892 and were one of the founder members of the Southern League, which at the time was seen as the second level of English football behind the Football League. The club made a name for themselves in the FA Amateur Cup, winning it three times, the last time in 1949 when an amazing crowd of over 96,000 saw them beat Romford at Wembley Stadium. The club also recorded their highest ever attendance at Hayes Lane when over 10,000 crammed in to see them play a touring Nigerian team, who beat them 3-1 whilst playing barefoot!

The club played in the Isthmian League for many years and unfortunately didn’t finish high up enough the table when the creation of the Blue Square North and South was announced in 2004, and consequently despite staying in the Isthmian they were effectively relegated. It took the club three seasons to regain their place in the second tier of non-league football after a penalty shoot out win in the play offs versus Billericay Town, having beaten AFC Wimbledon in front of a modern day record 3,429 fans.

So in August 2007 the club kicked off their campaign in the Blue Square South under the leadership of Mark Goldberg, the businessman who had suffered huge financial pressures when he took over at Crystal Palace a few years previously. Goldberg was to leave half way through the season due to work commitments, but returned at the end of the season after the club finished safely in mid-table, a situation they repeated this season.

Lewes came into this game with huge optimism. Despite a disastrous start to the season on the pitch, summed up by the last minute equaliser conceded at St Albans City last week, events off the field had turned out much more acceptable with the winding up order from the Inland Revenue now sorted out, and the club able to move forward in trying to stay in the division.

Even more good news came in the form of TBIR’s sponsored player, Ryan Storrie had been included in the squad for the games over the Bank Holiday weekend. Whilst he hadn’t got on during the 2-0 home defeat to Woking on Saturday, he was sure to feature in the game against Bromley.

Fuller Taxi’s dropped Lolly and myself at the ground for 1.30pm, and we headed straight into the ground. First impressions were good. Very old school and probably a harsh place to watch a game during the winter when the rain, sleet and snow blows across Norman Park, but in the lovely August sunshine it was a perfect venue. The basic view of the ground was completely opposite to the view in the club bar. A venue that would put many Football League grounds to shame. Excellent views of the pitch, a queuing system at the bar, a huge brunch for £3.50 and Bromley TV which shows highlights and interviews with the players done in a very professional manner (I should also add they have one of the best club websites I have seen in years). I can’t do the venue enough justice, so I will let my learned friend Mr Last picture the scene better here.

Bromley FC 3 Lewes FC 0 – The Courage Stadium – Monday 31st August 2009

Photo of the day thanks to Miss Fuller

Photo of the day thanks to Miss Fuller

With a heavy heart we left the bar and took our place on the benches behind the goal to cheer on the Rooks. Lolly was dispensed with the camera to be photographer for the day as I sat back to enjoy the sunshine. Strains of Take That songs drifted over the trees from the Bromley Festival (actually it was Fake That or Take This – a dire tribute band but what the heck). Lewes simply never got going and it was no surprise when a corner was not cleared and the big Aaron Dalhouse headed home with ease.

Half time saw us back in the bar, trying to find some positives from the game. It was obvious that the heat was affecting some of the players, but it was the same for both teams and none of us thought Lewes could get anything out of the game, including Rog, the Lewes grounds man who had showed everyone in the bar a picture of his latest grass cutting display. Danny managed to convince him to burn (yes burn with petrol), the words Lewes FC onto the grass bank that runs alongside the Dripping Pan touchline, so if you do see a piece in the Argus this week about a fire at the ground you’ll know who to blame!

The second half started with a bang. The bang coming from Deaks who, on leaving the bar saw the first glimpse of the afternoon of two would-be WAGS and walked into the door frame. The two looked very out of place, even on such a sunny day with orange tans, short skirts and little else in terms of modesty they paraded themselves around the ground, much to the amusement of the crowd. They were last seen in the bar after the game trying to corner a player or two.

The game didn’t get any better for Lewes. Sam Crabb missed a glorious chance for Lewes before becoming the victim of another heavy challenge and he was replaced by Ryan, getting me at least a point. With Bromley now two up Ryan provided some much needed width and on a couple of occasions worked his way to the by-line and almost creating a consolation goal with a great cross which was well met by Wheeler but the keeper pulled off his only real save of the day. With the clock ticking down the impressive Dalhouse smashed in a third from twenty five yards after Ryan Hall had again teed him up. Ryan Hall, Ryan Storrie, Ryan Timms…..all around the same age….Eighteen years ago who was the “heart throb” of football – step forward Ryan Giggs, in all his hairy chest glory. Another honour for the Manchester United star surely. I still cannot fathom the explosion of footballers called Jermaine though. Defoe, Pennant, Jenas, Beckford to name but a few but apart from Jermaine Stewart in the Eighties who foolishly thought that you didn’t have to take your clothes off to have a good time (parties would have been really exciting around Mr Stewart’s house then!).

Anyway, back to the bar and an appearance by CMF and Littlest Fuller who had been to Ikea all afternoon completed a Fuller family funday. There was still time for a bit of on the pitch high jinx, as Danny and Deaks reconstructed the famous Lewes penalty shoot out win from the 1983 season a la Phoenix from the Flames with me playing the crowd of a few hundred behind the goal. Fuller Taxis were on hand to whisk me home, with more than a few beers inside me, and glowing pride at some of the photos that Lolly took that would put mine to shame. The Boys of Summer may be over, but Weston-Super-Mare is on the agenda in a few weeks…It couldn’t get any better could it? I doubt it but we will give it a damn good go that is for sure.

About The Courage Stadium
Everyone knows the ground as Hayes Lane, despite it carrying the name of the brewers and it has been home to the club since 1938 when they moved from just down the road. It is a great non-league venue with a small main stand (with a fantastic bar at the top including a viewing area of the pitch) that sits around 4 foot above the playing surface. The stand was rebuilt in 1993 after fire destroyed the old one and it was named the John Fiorini Stand after xxxx. Opposite this is an excellent terrace that offers great views of the game, and behind each goal there are covered stands – one at the Norman Park end has benches which offer surprisingly good views. There is also a second bar next to the main stand where you can, shock horror, buy beer and drink it whilst watching the game!

How to get to The Courage Stadium
The ground is a fifteen minute walk from Bromley South station. Simply head right out of the station, cross the road and walk down Westmoreland Road, taking the first left into Hayes Road and following this all the way down to Hayes Lane where the ground is opposite you. Alternatively a number of buses run past the ground including the 314 from Eltham, 146 from Bromley Town centre and 119 from Croydon.

Getting a ticket for the Courage Stadium
Simple £10 for Adults and £5 for Concessions, paying on the door. The club do deals for families as well, offering free entrance for more than one child.


So this was where the stakes in the TBIR/EFW trophy were raised up a notch.  The chance to see our players in action at one of the most picturesque grounds in the lower leagues.  The original plans to meet up were scuppered by traffic around the whole of the M25 and it was nearly 2pm before Lolly and I arrived at the smart looking Clarence Park.  St Albans City play in a ground that sits within a lovely park just to the north of the railway station. The club, in an all too familiar story in the non-leagues were fighting for survival and so it was only fair that we helped them out with a few pints in the clubhouse prior to the game.  The usual Lewes travelling army of Danny, Deaks and Cynical Dave were already there, watching events unfold at the Oval.

St Albans had been back at this level for a couple of seasons after playing at the Conference National for a season back in 2006/07 only to be relegated the following season.  Since then it has been mid table mediocrity in the Blue Square South and so with Lewes’s form of 3 draws and a defeat coming into this game meant it was going to be a battle of wits.

Lolly and I were disappointed to learn that Ryan hadn’t been included – no injuries to report so the decision was tactical.  Based on the fact they were still looking for their elusive first win you would have thought a pacy, tricky and elusive (his words not mine) winger would be a good option – so why not pick him Mr Ibbitson!

St Albans City 1 Lewes 1 – Clarence Park, St Albans – Saturday 22nd August 2009

A worms eye view

A worms eye view

The first half was hardly a classic.  Player-coach Danny Cullip livened up proceedings by being set to the stands (and remember in non-league football that means sitting yards away from the bench) for swearing at the linesman and apart from a Dan Beck lobbed effort stalemate sums up the efforts from both teams.  We had been joined by Cornish Al, one of my goalkeepers from the EnglandFans team who lived locally.  He gave us a run down at half time on the club and what was going on.  He also told us some of the story of Clarence Park, including the fact that the smart blue and yellow crash barriers around the ground had come from Wimbledon’s old ground at Plough Lane, and the floodlights from Reading’s old Plough Lane – never a lender or a borrower be eh!

So with the sunshine making it a perfect afternoon for watching the game we came back out for the second half.  We had all paid our £1 for a golden goal ticket, and I was the only one left with a chance of winning.  Poor Lolly had drawn the 1st minute and wasn’t happy that I could still win (at least she didn’t have a tantrum which is what Littlest Fuller would have done at losing!).  My winning time was 73 minutes and it was hard to see how anyone would win.  But them came a moment of magic from Lewes, and dare I say it, Sam Crabb.  Lewes broke down the right, Dave Wheeler crossed and there was Crabb running in to smash the ball home.  He had already seen Danny watching and so he ran over to give his benefactor a big hug…The time on the clock was 3 minutes shy but it was worth it if Lewes got a win.

93 minutes were on the clock when St Albans had a corner.  From somewhere the referee had found 4 minutes of injury time and that was to prove decisive as from the cross Peters headed home to send the St Albans fans into raptures.  The Lewes players were understandably stunned, but within a minute a hopeful punt up field allowed the Lewes centre forward a one on one with the keeper but he pulled it wide and with it any chance of 3 points.

So a win had turned into a draw and the EFW crew trudged back to the bar to drown their sorrows, although Dave winning the club lottery and a crisp £20 did at least bring some cheer to the end of the day.  I explained to Lolly as we walked back to the car that football isn’t as always as good as this in terms of the setting and the weather, but is often as cruel.  With Ryan’s shirt under her arm, some new tips for Super Mario Bros from Mr Last, and a few new swear words from Cyncial Dave she had had a very productive afternoon!

About Clarence Park
Picturesque is the best word I can use to descibe the ground and I cannot do it the justice it deserves.  The St Albans website has an excellent and comprehensive history that can be viewed here.

How to get to Clarence Park
If you are driving the exit M25 at juntion 22 (A1081). Follow signs to St. Albans from slip road. At London Colney rbt (traffic light controlled) exit onto A1081. Follow road for approx 1 mile until mini rbt (Great Northern pub on left). Turn right into Alma Road. At traffic lights turn right into Victoria Street and continue to junction with Crown pub. Go straight across into Clarence Road, ground is first on left about 50 yards past junction or take the next turning on the left into York Road, ground entrance is at the end of the road on the left.  If you are coming from the A1 then exit at Hatfield Galleria and follow the A404 towards St Albans and then turn right at the roundabout with the A1081, then as above.  There are a very small number of parking spaces in the park (pay and display) otherwise it is free street parking around the park.

St Albans City station is on the Thameslink service from Kings Cross Thameslink (20 mins). Turn left out of St. Albans City station into Station Way and cross Hatfield Road into Clarence Park. Follow the path round to the right of the ground until you reach the main entrance.

How to get a ticket for Clarence Park
As with most grounds in the non-leagues there is plenty of room for everyone to watch a game at Clarence Park.  The capacity is 6,000 so there is no need to buy any tickets in advance.  The turnstiles are in the south east and north west corners of the ground and admission is £10 for Adults and £3 for Under 14’s.  There is a £2 upgrade to the stand which is advisable if the weather is poor.  If you want to use the clubhouse before, during or after the game you have to actually leave the ground and climb the stairs behind the main stand and then show your ticket to get back in.

Announcing the TBIR/EFW Lewes Challenge

“This town ain’t big enough for the both of us” sang the Sparks in 1974 and thirty five years later the same could be said for the presence of two offbeat football travel blogs.  Since our first match up back in November 2008 at Lewes, European Football Weekends and our good selves here at TBIR have entertained the nation.  We have done a few joint trips such as Welling United and the Blue Square Premier play off final at Wembley as well as a couple of memorable Twenty20 World Cup game and we continue to live in a symiotic way.  So with the new season now upon us we thought we would take the challenge to the next level.  We thought we would get someone else to fight it out for us.

The Cup - probably

The Cup - probably

So back in July Mr Last, from EFW came up with the ideal of sponsoring a player at his home team Lewes.  The initial idea was that I would find a player at a competing club and sponsor him and we would then go head to head.  But do you realise how difficult it is to give some clubs money?  Bromley FC (owned and managed by Mark Goldberg, the man who spectacularly blew at fortune at Crystal Palace) wanted £150 to sponsor a player, whilst Welling United, Bishops Stortford and Dover must obviously have so much money that they could not be bothered to answer my email offering them cash.  So I reverted to Plan B which was also to sponsor a Lewes player and we would see which one performed the best over the season.

Sam Crabb

Sam Crabb

Danny, on behalf of EFW, had first pick and he chose 19 year old new signing Sam Crabb.  The youngest of three brothers (in fact his two brothers still play for Eastbourne Borough and were featured back in March in the game against Kettering Town).  Sam had a great pre-season knocking in goals against Carshalton Athletic, Worthing and Eastbourne Town and hopes are high for this season in the Blue Square South.  So I had to come up with a player to match….Step forward TBIR’s player of choice Ryan Storrie.  Ryan is just 18 years old but has broken into the first team squad after some excellent performances for the youth team. 

Ryan Storrie

Ryan Storrie

The competition is simple…..2 points for a starting place, 1 point for an appearance as a substitute, 5 points for an assist and a magic 10 points per goal.  We will create a special league table on the blog for everyone to follow, but for now after just two games the scores are…..(drum roll)…

Ryan Storrie 3 (1 start, 1 substitute appearance)

Sam Crabb 9 (2 starts and 1 assist)