Lewes stung by the last gasp Hornets

The world changed for Lewes FC in July 2011 when Brighton & Hove Albion moved into the American Express Community Stadium, located just one train stop or 4.7 miles from The Dripping Pan.  We always knew that there would be an exodus of fans to the new stadium and hoped that the fixture computer would be kind to us and not arrange any major fixture clashes.  The first half of the season saw just two such clashes, which had around a 20% impact on the gate.  So we (the board of directors don’t you know) decided to experiment with the game on Bank Holiday Monday with Horsham when the next clash was due to take place and decreed it would be a midday kick off.

The reasons for this were plentiful.  A local derby against one of Lewes’s oldest rivals, and one just 30 minutes away by car was always going to attract a large crowd.  Coupled with Brighton’s “local” game versus Southampton at 3pm, the fact that Lewes has become the place to “park and ride” for the Amex, as well as the local licencing laws meaning the pubs couldn’t open until midday anyway.  Finally,  Plumpton racecourse was hosting the Sussex Grand National no less (Many thanks to Eddie The Shoe for the tip on Double Dizzy) so a few of the crowd may be planning to head up to the estate of Lord Plumpton and lay a bet or two and keep him in fine wines and cigars for another year. So we (the board) voted overwhelmingly to move the game. Continue reading

No Cray fishing at the Pan

Who wanted a trip to Wembley anyway?  I mean have you seen the price of the burgers there, and you cannot have a beer whilst watching the game.  Oh no, a trip to Wembley is soooo not Non League.  Give us a decent league campaign any day of the week.

That’s what we have been telling ourselves all week since the embarrassment of Chertsey.  It has been the elephant in the room for the past week but now it is time to move on.  We would all swap a playoff spot, or fingers cross automatic promotion for a potentially embarrassing exit in the FA Cup 1st round to a League side.  Anyway there is still the Ryman League Cup to concentrate on isn’t there?

So who is up next at the Pan?  Well here comes Cray Wanderers.  Ask a million people where Cray is and I bet you will get nearly a million blank faces.  Even James Boyes, the man with the magic trousers, emailed me and asked and he knows everything.  Well I have a bit of local knowledge on this one, and you know what they saw about power and knowledge don’t you. Continue reading

Malcolm in the Middle of the park

After Wednesday’s win against Met Police where the result was more important than the performance, Steve King had put the pressure on the team by promising that this would be a better spectacle.  However, the worry for all those involved in the club was the first ever “head to head” game with Brighton.

Just five miles down the road in their shiny new Amex Community Stadium, high flying Brighton & Hove Albion would be taking on Peterborough United at exactly the same time as Lewes were kicking off against Billericay Town.  Many fans had called for the Rooks to move their kick off to try and accommodate those “floating voters” who support both teams (mentioning no names Mr Last!), but it was decided to “wait and see the impact on the crowd”.

After a morning on a 30 footer in Brighton Marina, soaking up the sun I arrived in Lewes at 1.30pm.  First immediate problem.  No parking spaces anywhere near the ground.  Many Seagulls fans who live this way had chosen to park in Lewes and get the train one stop to Falmer.  So I was forced to park up in the town centre and walk down.  Not that any of the pubs near the station will mind Brighton’s new ground being so close as they were doing a roaring trade. Continue reading

On the tenth day of Christmas….the best ground

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, brilliant grounds not one, nor two but three.

This category is for our favourites grounds in 2010 – ones we have been to a few times.  Our criteria for this was, well basically, how we felt on the day. Ease of getting there, the food, the fans, the atmosphere – in short the whole package.  Notable runners in this category are The Beveree, home of Hampton & Richmond Borough, The Swedbank stadium of Malmo FF and Carshalton’s War Memorial Ground. But there can only be three winners in our awards, and they are:-

Princes Park – Dartford FC – Many clubs will look at envy at Dartford’s “new ground”, now actually 7 years old. They could have gone down an Identikit stadium to save money (step 1 purchase from Ikea, step 2 unpack, step 3 find some nuts missing, step 4 take it back) but instead thanks to the vision of the club and the assistance of the local council they have a ground so unique that clubs from all over Europe still visit to see for themselves.

A roof covered in grass which captures the rain water for recycling, a fantastic bar, a public transport system that whisks you from main station to the stadium in minutes, literally a minute from the M25, stands that can be expanded with ease as and when necessary and a 12 foot wooden man holding up the roof. Add in 1,000 Dartford fans and you have a cracking day out.

Wembley Stadium – For all its faults it is still the greatest stadium to watch a game in at the moment.  Every seat faces the centre circle (apparently) and there isn’t a bad view in the house. Sure people may moan about the lack of atmosphere when England play there, the expensive food and the nightmare getting home, but last year we saw a game from the press area (nice biscuits but we got locked in – read about it here) and an Executive box thanks to Adam Lloyd which was luxurious to say the least. For those two reasons it is one of our top 3 grounds – sorry we freely admit we sold out to our principles on this one!

The Dripping Pan – Lewes FC – OK we admit that we are a bit biased on this one but at the end of the day, Brian, these are our awards and if we can’t give them to whole we want then what can we do? I have publically gone on record, and been quoted in at least one national publication, as saying:-

“With the South Downs as a backdrop like a white stage curtain, a pint of local Harveys Ale in my hand and the roar of the Rook Inn Terrace behind me, there is no better place to watch football.”

All true. We like to say at Lewes there are no strangers, only football fans who have not yet fallen in love with the most fashionable club in England (well, I think I said it once after a few too many Harveys). Sure the football may not be the best at times but do we have fun watching it. And so should you. Attendances are up by 70% since the club became a Community Club last Summer,a dn fan involvement can be epitomised by the work in progress Rook Inn. You’d be a fool to miss out.

125 Not Out!

On the 18th September 1885, the union of Eastern Rumelia and Bulgaria was announced in Plovdiv to cap an amazing week in history.  First we had the ridiculous Arbroath 36 Bon Accord 0 scoreline that would have had James Alexander Gordon repeating that a few times (to this day Bon Accord fans still claim the 7th goal was miles offside) and then we had the news that Jumbo the elephant had been killed in a train crash whilst working for P T Barnum’s circus.  Sad days indeed.  But down in East Sussex a story that got no press whatsoever broke.

A normal night of karaoke at the Royal Oak pub in Lewes turned into something quite special as a group of fine Victorian gentlemen, fed up with the butchering of Wired for Sound (Cliff is that old surely?) decided to form a football club.  And so was born Lewes FC.  They agreed with the local council that they could play in a boggy area of the town known as the Dripping Pan and have called that place home since – in itself quite an impressive achievement.  That group of men who played their first ever match a few weeks later wore Green shirts to reflect the picturesque South Downs overlooking the ground. Continue reading