After three relegations in the past ten years, community-owned Lewes FC finally started back on the long road up the football pyramid by gaining promotion to the Bostik Premier League with a 4-2 win against local rivals Horsham last Wednesday (11th April) night. A fantastic season that has seen the team put in some brilliant performances, particularly away from home against some of their nearest rivals, still had three games to go when the team clinched promotion. The next battle, for the Championship, will undoubtedly goto the wire since, despite another Lewes win on Saturday, an excellent Carshalton Athletic side appear intent on challenging the Rooks all the way with a long unbeaten run.
Since becoming community-owned back in 2010, it’s been something of a struggle to get back on a winning trajectory, but with sensible management off the field and a winning attitude on the field, the club has stabilised and looks to be heading in the right direction once again. From my own perspective, as a supporter of a mere twelve years, it's also my primary football focus now having given up my season ticket at Arsenal this season after a previously unbroken thirty-five year stint. And I'm not alone. The terraces at home and away games are now populated with a myriad of fans of other clubs that have become disillusioned by the game at the highest level and who've found something they've recognised (and liked) about the game at the eighth level of English football.
Much of the success is reward for the club’s small army of volunteers, from managing the bar in the clubhouse to running the club shop and for the work of the directors - all volunteers themselves - who have provided the back-up required to ensure that the team's challenge has been kept up throughout the season. The sense of community at the club is building and, with an ownership scheme with around 1,300 members, it not only gives you a say in the running of the club, but also gives discounts with local shops and businesses.
From my own perspective, I play a tiny part in helping out, in matchday hospitality (only as an assistant, mind) which serves to stand me in good stead for the most important part of my role at Supporters Direct -making the teas and coffees.