Bugger Bognor

I cannot read or say the words Bognor Regis with a small titter sneaking out of my mouth. You see I was a seventies child, raised on TV shows such as Dads Army, On the Buses and of course Are You Being Served? Even today I can think of no better way to relax in the evenings than a large glass of Chateauneuf du Pape and slipping on a DVD of the crazy antics of Grace Brothers. After all, who wouldn’t want to hear tales of Mrs. Slocombe’s pussy late at night? The TV show has been featured in the news briefly this week as the actor Frank Thornton, who played the role of Captain Peacock, had passed away, meaning that the whole of the original cast were no longer with us.

img41156a0e3e6a4The series ran for years, including a film in 1977 supposedly set in Spain, and featuring Andrew Sachs as a clueless Spanish hotel employee – as if that sort of character would ever work! Anyway, back on topic, the reason I laugh is because of a line in the film where Mr.Grainger needs to use the toilet on the airplane and its suggested he does it over Bognor to gain revenge for a holiday ruined by the British weather when he was younger. Little things please little minds, as Katie Price would undoubtedly say.

So Bank Holiday Monday and the second Sussex derby in 48 hours. Unfortunately Saturday’s defeat against Hastings United had seen a big black cloud descend on the Dripping Pan.  We needed a big boost, something akin to what the first meeting of the Rooks and the Rocks delivered at Christmas.  The game on Boxing Day at The Pan, played in God-awful conditions the like of which we haven’t seen for at least a week saw The Rooks take all 3 points. Since then, wins have been scarce but this was all about the bragging rights between East and West Sussex. The game in December had attracted a Ryman Premier League high of 883 fans, although few who were there will remember much more than the incessant rain and the bonkers away fans who stood on the open Jungle cheering their team on. Three months later and the weather has hardly changed. Snow had fallen virtually every day in March so the 1 April would be a perfect day for a visit to the seaside, and what better place that Bognor, a town that was awarded its “Regis” (by appointment to the King) in 1929 although many commentators believe his reaction to the suggestion by an aid was to say “Bugger Bognor”.

bus_bristol_green_crosvilleTaking the British 70’s Sitcom to another level, the Lewes fans would be making their way along the A27 on Clive’s, one of the club’s directors, old bus.  Not that Clive is a modern day Stan Butler (secretly I think he wants to be a Blakey), but what better way to travel to the seaside than on an old-fashion Charabang!  Bottles of Milk Stout were loaded on board with tongue sandwiches all round for the trip westwards.  Who wouldn’t want to travel in style?  Well, Danny Last and I for ones but that is because we had another agenda. Continue reading

Prudence, transparency, trust and 3 points

“There are rich teams and then there are poor teams. And then there is us”

That isn’t a quote from one of the current board of Lewes FC, although it could quite easily be one. It is from the excellent film, Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. It is a true story of the Oakland A’s baseball team and their meteoric rise to success despite having zero cash.

Having joined the board of Lewes six months ago I can certainly relate to Billy Beane, the character played by Brad Pitt and his quote above. The club have been through the mill in the past few years but have emerged from the other side with a Community Benefit Society, with over 800 members today, each of whom contributes to the ongoing survival of a club at the heart of the community.

Since I joined we have had a dream to become the most transparent club in Non league football. Others have called us mad, naive and made us feel we were breaking the magicians code of football when we stated our intend. One member of the board summed it up as follows:-

“The inner financial workings of a football club tend to be a bit of a black box. Any documentation, if it exists, is kept “in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard” Continue reading

When East meets West

Ever since the Isthmian League eventually got around to publishing the fixtures for the season everyone had been looking forward to this one.  Technically this was Lewes’s local derby.  The Dripping Pan to Horsham’s Goring Mead ground was less than a third of a mile shorter than their traditional rivalry with Hastings United and their Pilot Field ground.

An added bonus was the game scheduled for Bank Holiday Monday.  A day just made for football.  And beer. And with Horsham starting off like a train, scoring goals for fun, this was going to be a test for the Rooks.

Now here is a fact that I believe is true.  Despite asking all and sundry nobody can give me a definitive answer.  So if I am wrong, please correct me.  Here goes.

Horsham had two football grounds, which were the closest located in the Football pyramid in the whole of Great Britain.  There – I step back in awe of the amazement in your eyes.  Yes, we all know that the two Dundee teams are located on the same road, and the two teams in Nottingham are separated by the River Trent.  There is also the strange situation with Northwich Victoria and Witton Albion, who built almost identical new grounds less than 250 yards apart, and today we have the grounds at Bedford and Totton. But these grounds were the closest of the lot. Alas the original Horsham ground is no more, consigned to the history books and a car park for a set of flats today.

Three seasons ago Horsham FC were in a bit of a financial pickle so agreed to groundshare over the back fence with Horsham YMCA who at the time were in the Ryman League South.  Whilst the long-term plans are still to build a ground of their own, average attendances in the Ryman Premier of 260 mean there seems little financial sense to move, and of course they can groundshare not only with YMCA but also with the Horsham Organ society. Continue reading