I’VE accumulated quite a collection of Lewes FC memorabilia over time and even though storing it brings its own problems I am always happy to receive more.
Most recently I was given a collection of old programmes. They were from the attic of the Hailsham home of David Hathaway, a friend of mine since our Lewes schooldays. Back then he lived in Southover and was a frequent visitor to the Dripping Pan.
Perusing old programmes is always interesting. The earliest in David’s collection are from the mid-Sixties, including the 1966-67 season, a time when England was basking in the glory of winning the World Cup.
That victory awoke a keen interest in football in a whole generation of schoolkids. I know because I was one of them. Indeed it was the reason I paid my first-ever visit to the Dripping Pan where I remember classmate Norman Smith telling anyone who would listen that ‘West Ham won the World Cup’.
That statement puzzled me for quite a while – but I never queried it lest I betray my woeful ignorance of the technicalities of the game (I could run a mean cross country race but was hopeless at other sports).
ATHENIAN LEAGUE WINNERS
The following season saw Lewes win the Athenian League Division Two title. I noticed the name Peter Medhurst featured in one programme where he is singled out as having had a very good performance “at Rainham on Good Friday”.
Peter today is a regular visitor to the Dripping Pan and also rarely misses away games.
We’ve reproduced part of a programme cover here. Notice the price is just threepence – that’s 1.5p in today’s money.
Now, I can tell you that a pint of mild in those days cost one shilling and sixpence, the equivalent of the cost of six programmes. I know about the price of mild because I was a 15-year-old army cadet at the time but several Lewes landlords agreed that in my uniform I did indeed look 18.
Anyway, today’s Lewes FC programme costs £2.50 while a pint of Harvey’s in the Rook Inn is £3.10p.
But I’m not sure if it is worth drawing any conclusions from comparing costs “then and now” because the old programmes were just four thin pages printed in two colours whereas today’s stylish productions are a minimum of 32-full colour pages.
MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU!
My wife Barbara and myself are also good friends with David Hathaway’s sister, Sally. The other week we went on holiday to Turkey with her and her new husband, Mike Webb.
We have a second granddaughter scheduled to arrive on May 4 and wanted to get some much-needed R&R ahead of the happy event. We cleverly fixed our departure date so we would miss just one game – the away fixture against Cray Wanderers.
At least one other Lewes fan had the same idea. As we walked down the aisle of the aircraft at Gatwick, a voice chirped up: “Hi Barbara. Have you come to sell me a raffle ticket?”
It was Alan Sayers (aka Heathfieldrook) also en route to Turkey.
Quite a coincidence. As it happened I had a “hot off the press” copy of the latest Sussex Express with me (bought at Lewes train station at 5.30am that morning) and lent it to him for inflight reading. Alan’s wife looked somewhat bemused!
On holiday we learnt that Mike Webb once played football at the Dripping Pan, though not for Lewes. The pinnacle of Mike’s soccer career actually came well past his fortieth birthday when, for two seasons, he turned out for Worthing Reserves.
Anyway Mike and Sally are coming along to tomorrow’s “cliffhanger” of a game against Harrow Borough.
Hopefully David Hathaway will be there too. In fact, we’ve been cajoling friends and relations galore to come on down and help swell what deserves to be our biggest gate of the season. I’m sure many other fans have been doing the same.
You can read elsewhere on this page about the Glynde Butterflies Stoolball Team of 150 years ago who local author Andrew Lusted dubs ‘England’s first female sports stars’.
That description immediately made me think of our own Lewes Ladies football team – our own modern day female sports stars for certain after their magnificent achievements this season that include winning the Women’s South East Combination League Championship and the Ryman Women’s League Cup.
Plus of course they have England U23 international Naomi Cole in their line-up. The “vital” statistics of the Rookettes are amazing. In the course of the 2011-12 league and cup campaigns they scored no fewer than 108 goals – twice as many as second-placed Enfield – and conceded just 14 to record a goal difference of plus 94!
Into the bargain they enjoyed a 100 per cent home record and in fact were unbeaten in the league where they notched up 19 wins and a single draw. Their reward is promotion to the Women’s Premier League, a feat being recognised by Lewes Mayor John Stockdale at a special reception for the team in Lewes Town Hall next Wednesday evening (May 2).