Eastbourne Borough crisis: The football clash that thankfully didn't need extra-time

If a week is a long time in politics, it can occasionally be an absolute age for local football followers. But thankfully, this one did not quite need extra time.

Thursday (13th): an EGM at Langney Sports Club – not, on the surface, the most exciting event in the sporting calendar – prompts a collective walk-out by the entire CIC football club Board, after some controversial committee elections.

Friday: rumours run round the town “before the truth has got its boots on”. Resignations? The entire board? Surely not. Must be an empty threat. A football club can’t run on thin air. Who’s going to put the corner flags out? Nope. It’s just a bluff.

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Saturday: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen” (Shakespeare, The Scottish Play). While Danny Bloor’s exuberant first team triumph 5-2 in an absolute thriller with Hungerford Town, the fateful hour strikes 6.00pm and the CIC Board, including chairman Blackmore, resign their posts.

Amid all the trouble behind the scenes at Priory Lane, Borough took on Hungerford, and beat them 5-2 / Picture: Andy Pelling

Sunday: on a morning when non-league fans generally muse lazily over match reports, or look out for the video highlights, social media explodes with a mix of disbelief and anger. “It’s like some Soviet-era intrigue with people vanishing without explanation!” – “Well done to all the moaners and armchair managers…” – “an orchestrated attack of pique…” And, from one hugely respected former player: “Too much blood, sweat and tears went into dragging the club from County League to where it is now, from myself and my former teammates, to stand back and watch it crumble”

Monday: A Bangles’ “Manic Monday”? No, in fact it was the UK's official Blue Monday, and that's how it felt for the guys in red and black. With Eastbourne Borough’s future on ice, Acorns Trust chairman Andy Miller calls a meeting of the trustees – and it’s absolutely a work meeting, by the way, and definitely not a party. Priory Lane doesn’t do cheese and wine…

Tuesday: “Impatience does become a dog that’s mad” (Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra) The local dog-walkers are the only people to be seen at Priory Lane. Radio silence from the club itself – but plenty of shuttle diplomacy as the off-line discussions continue. They need to find common ground, but this is all pretty new ground for a genial, small-scale football club. Standing orders don’t cover it, and Jackie Weaver is not answering her phone…

Wednesday: “Cometh the hour, cometh the man…” (Sir Walter Scott) Signs that the protagonists may no longer be antagonists. Trust chairman Miller – who happens to work in Maidstone, with 6.00am starts – and David Blackmore, who has been known to start his own work commute at 3.00am, are moving mountains to make progress. But out of all this insanity, there are signs of sanity. By early evening, statements are being carved out. And after those Seven Days to Zero, Priory Lane has found its heroes, and found a way forward

Kevin Anderson comments: Nobody relishes conflict, but ironically, there are times when it creates positive outcomes. For six months or more, disquiet has simmered below the surface among some folk at Priory Lane. Communications have not always been open, and people have talked about each other, instead of with each other. This is not about villains, though: like all our local clubs, the Sports are full of good people with the best intentions. Andy Miller’s input – perhaps because he has brought objectivity and a fresh view from the outside – has been game-changing. What we need, and what the statements confirm, is a huge outbreak of good sense, and a willingness to work for the common cause. There used to be talk of “directors versus volunteers” – but actually the CIC directors are also volunteers. Put differences behind you, guys: you are in this together. If all the talents, all the ideas, all the energies can be engaged and channelled, then Eastbourne Borough Football Club can conquer the non-league world.