Rooks fans can fast-track to a bumper crowd at the Pan for Bank Holiday game with Horsham

LEWES FC fans hoping to avoid Monday’s expected long queues will be able to gain ‘fast track’ entry into the Rooks’ big local derby clash with Horsham, it has been announced.

With club officials anticipating a big crowd for the Bank Holiday Ryman Premier clash with local rivals the Hornets at the Dripping Pan, Lewes Football Club will be selling tickets in advance from their display stand in the town centre precinct tomorrow (New Year’s Eve) morning.

Rooks management committee spokesman David Arnold said the move would enable fans with advance tickets to gain entry through the turnstile normally reserved for season ticket holders only.

He said: “We want the match day experience to be a good one and selling advance tickets will help ensure everyone can get into the ground on time and avoid any turnstile congestion before the noon kick-off. The tickets will be on sale on Saturday from 10am to 12.30pm at the Rooks’ stand in the precinct.

“The advance tickets are also on sale at Hartleys off-licence in the High Street on Saturday and Sunday.”

The fast-tracking of fans into the Pan may help the Rooks break the Ryman Premier attendance record for the season, which itself was broken for the second day in succession on Tuesday when 1,106 turned up at Billericay to see the league leaders take on neighbours and title rivals AFC Hornchurch.

Incidentally, Hornchurch’s 1-0 away win meant the Urchins from Essex pushed Lewes back into fourth in the table – the Rooks had briefly enjoyed a season’s highest of third in the table following their 1-0 victory over Hastings 24 hours earlier.

That 1,106 was itself 40 more than the previous season’s best – set the day before when Lowestoft Town entertained fellow Suffolk side Bury Town – although the best Ryman crowd of the season so far was in the Ryman South, where Bognor v Worthing attracted a heathly Boxing Day gate of 1,279.

Rooks general manager Steve Duly reckons Rooks fans eager to see their side extend its superb run (currently standing at seven wins in eight matches) could quite feasibly beat that by doubling the Rooks’ seasonal avergage gate of 599 on Monday... with a little help from fans of nearby Brighton & Hove Albion FC, that is.

Duly said: “We’ve moved the time of kick-off for the Horsham match to midday to avoid it clashing with Brighton’s game with Southampton (kick off 3pm).

“So we’re hoping quite a few Seagulls fans who will be travelling through Lewes anyway, because of train connections perhaps, will decide to take in the game at the Pan before heading off to the Amex in plenty of time for their own South Coast derby.

“And with the New Year fixture being a traditional day when neutral fans take a trip out to take in a game, we’re quite hopeful that we can double our normal attendance this season.”

In addition, the club is offering season tickets valid for the remaining half of the season at £90 for adults.

Concession prices are £45 for senior citizens and students with ID. These half-season tickets can also be bought at the precinct display stand on Saturday, and also at a stand in front of the Dripping Pan on Monday before the Horsham game.

However, before the big Bank Holiday derby against a struggling Horsham side (currently rock bottom of the Ryman Premier and without a win since August), the Rooks make their second journey up to East Molesey to take on the Met Police tomorrow (Saturday).

Lewes made light work of the top five side earlier this month when they knocked them out of the Ryman Cup with a 2-1 win on the Met’s perfect playing surface.

Rooks boss Steve King has made no secret of his love of good playing surfaces, which allow for his team’s trademark passing football, and will be looking forward to a return to Imber Court, although he will be wary of a desire for revenge from the Blues for that cup exit.

Meanwhile, the Rooks this week revealed that keeper Rikki Banks has had his loan deal from East Sussex neighbours Eastbourne Borough extended. Via their official Twitter feed on Wednesday, the club announced: “Glad tidings: Eastbourne Borough have agreed to extend @rikkibanks1 loan to Lewes for a further month.”