A SURE sign of the well-being of a non-league football club is when the games are well publicised through posters displayed in and around the home town. Lewes FC now benefits from some 250 poster sites in pubs, bookies, shops and even the windows of private homes not just in the county town but in places like Uckfield and Newhaven. I doubt if anyone in our part of Sussex can be unaware when a Ryman Premier game at the Dripping Pan is coming up.
But the poster power of the Rooks reached a new high in the days leading up to the very entertaining match against Aveley last Saturday. A stunning Roy of the Rovers-style creation drew admiring glances and enthusiastic comments from all who saw it. Indeed, very quickly posters started to disappear as people snapped them up as souvenirs. I know for sure that one now hangs, framed, in a local solicitor’s office, Adams & Remers – but to be fair theirs was a gift from the club as they are valued sponsors.
So, who is responsible for this evocative depiction of a blond-haired striker in a Rooks’ shirt, unleashing an unstoppable shot on goal? He is David Sheppard, a partner in Proworx, a small but hugely talented design agency based at the northern end of Pipe Passage in the heart of Lewes.
David has been working with Lewes FC for some seven years now and Roy of the Rovers is but one of around 150 posters he has created to date for the Rooks. Until last season the format followed a conventional style. But with the rebirth of Lewes FC as a community club, a more imaginative approach to publicity developed almost by osmosis as the posters took on a themed approach.
Sometimes the poster themes are suggested to David, or, as he puts it: “I get given the odd idea on the back of an envelope!”, but wherever the initial suggestion comes from it is David’s job to produce the finished work. So successful has he proved that all of the artwork from last season has now been incorporated into a single unique poster.
Available from the club shop on match days at £25, the poster is very much a unique collector’s piece and copies are selling fast.
David also designed the Lewes FC website in cahoots with site editor and ace photographer James Boyes. David says the site is simply another extension of the Lewes brand: “It is obviously a more instant media but I still love the smell of a nice freshly printed programme.” I think he is being unduly modest; in my opinion www.lewesfc.com is now one of the best non-league football club websites to be found and it attracts thousands of hits every week. It has a substantial overseas following as well.
There is also no denying that the Lewes FC badge, featuring a castle depicted in the style of a chess piece rook (clever, eh?) with one of our beloved black birds on each side is brilliantly simple yet very striking. No surprise then to learn that this is another David Sheppard creation.
“Being a huge football fan I always wanted to design a club badge. The old Lewes one with the comic Rook was a little twee so it was a labour of love to come up with the new design and donate it to the club with the compliments of myself and my Proworx partner, Richard Brooks. I’m glad it has been so well received.”
Last but not least, David designs the match day programmes. He told me he has never missed a deadline but added: “With cup replays and re-arranged fixtures, there have been a lot of early mornings and late nights to make sure the fans get their half time reading.”
Now they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so the Proworx man will be very pleased to learn that his Averley poster caught the attention of fans of our local rivals, Eastbourne Borough. It was singled out for praise on Borough’s Fans Forum and triggered a clamour of demands that Eastbourne needed a similar campaign of their own to counter disappointing early season gates.
Football fans being merciless in their treatment of rival clubs, it was inevitable that someone would take the opportunity to poke a bit of fun, saying that it was easy for Lewes to produce such artistic work because our town is full of ‘arty ***** types’. Which is all very humourous. Ha ha. Except that David Sheppard is a Lewes FC fan who lives … guess where? In Eastbourne!