SO that’s the end of another eventful season for Lewes FC.
Despite the fact that we missed out on a play-off spot by just a couple of points, last Saturday was a marvellous day to be a fan of the Rooks.
The feel-good factor certainly lit up a weather-wise dull day and four good goals from Lewes to cap a recent run of great form was enough to banish memories of some stuttering performances in mid-season.
It all came good for ‘rookie’ manager Simon Wormull just at the right time. Now he needs to keep the momentum going and confirm signings for next season’s team as early as possible.
Certainly we fans are 100 per cent behind him and I would expect our enthusiasm to be vouched for by record sales of season tickets when they go on sale in the next month or so.
I don’t know what the price of season tickets will be but I think it is inevitable they must go up. Not least because last January the government slapped an extra 2.5 per cent VAT levy, meaning a whopping 20 per cent of ticket revenue now disappears to HMRC.
It’s desperately needed money that benefits the club not at all.
I really think that non-league clubs playing in the football pyramid below the Conference level should mount a campaign seeking relief from VAT.
The money involved is a drop in the ocean in respect of the government’s entire tax income yet the potential savings to small local clubs would help immensely, not least in freeing up funds to help them comply with all the rules and regulations imposed by the game’s authorities these days.
Our infrastructure at the Dripping Pan is better than that at many of the grounds we visit in the course of a season but there are still plenty of improvements we could make if we had VAT waived.
I also think it would be a very popular measure for the government to make, demonstrating a concern for grass-roots affordable local football at a time when everyone is tightening belts.
I was reminded of rules and regulations when I indulged once more my sad hobby of perusing old football programmes.
I came across that of the Sussex Senior Cup Final between Lewes and Bognor Regis held at Langney Sports FC, Eastbourne, on May 7 2001.
I remember it well. Lewes won to crown a splendid season of progress on and off the pitch with Jimmy Quinn as team manager and club owner Martin Elliott working tirelessly to build up the club’s infrastructure.
The following programme note amused me: “…there was also that intriguing moment in the late Eighties when Bognor manager Jack Pearce insisted on measuring the Langney pitch before his team’s Senior Cup tie against Sports because he believed it to be below regulation size.
“The measuring exercise took place with the Bognor team back on the bus and ready to go home.
“Fortunately the referee was happy that the pitch was up to scratch… and Bognor went through 1-0.”
Funnily enough, a couple of seasons ago Steve “Ibbo” Ibbitson (then manager, now Lewes Chairman) and a few of us spent a worrying afternoon measuring the Dripping Pan pitch as there was a suspicion it might not meet the latest FA dimension rules.
I’m pleased to say it did. But clearly you can’t be too careful!
Anyway, after Saturday – and Sunday’s 10th annual Veterans’ Football Tournament (see below) – Dripping Yarns will now take a rest for a few months. Before I close I’d like to thank all Lewes fans for their support this season and also acknowledge the generous backing of our sponsors, particularly Brighton Holiday Homes, who made it possible to continue the ‘kids go free’ policy plus all those local pubs, restaurants, businesses and homes that have kindly displayed our match day posters.
The latter have always been eye-catching and colourful but without places to display them they would go largely unseen. Your help is much appreciated.
Finally, I extend a special thank you to Sports Editor Brian Pollard and the Sussex Express for the excellent and extensive coverage they have extended to Lewes FC throughout the season (thanks David – Sports Ed).
Come On You Rooks!