End of season adds up to end of era at Lewes FC

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
The season has finally come to end for Lewes FC – and it is truly the end of an era at the Dripping Pan.

The final senior games involved Tony Russell’s men’s team playing in the Fenix Trophy in Italy last weekend.

They lost 1-0 in their semi-final against FC United of Manchester before goals by Archie Tamplin and Chris Whelpdale earned a 2-1 win over Enfield Town in the third-fourth-place play-off.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In Russell’s last interview as Rooks boss, he thanked the fans for backing him since his first day at the club.

Lewes line up for their Fenix Trophy third/fourth place play-off against Enfield, which they won | Picture: James BoyesLewes line up for their Fenix Trophy third/fourth place play-off against Enfield, which they won | Picture: James Boyes
Lewes line up for their Fenix Trophy third/fourth place play-off against Enfield, which they won | Picture: James Boyes

He said: “They’ve been unbelievable with me, I’ve got a really good relationship with them. Hopefully one day our paths will cross again.”

Russell said although the Rooks had not won promotion or any cup in his tenure, he could reflect on three enjoyable years when attendances had gone up and some exciting young players had come through.

While the matches marked the end of Russell and assistant Joe Vines’ three-year reign at Lewes, they are not, of course, alone in moving on now the 2024-25 campaign has finished.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Women’s team manager Scott Booth has left after two seasons in charge, with the search underway for a replacement to lead the Rooks into their FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division campaign following relegation from the Championship.

They are looking for a full-time first team manager and a part-time assistant manager and goalkeeper coach.

And CEO Maggie Murphy has also said her goodbyes after an influential spell at the club.

She tweeted a picture of the Dripping Pan on Tuesday and said simply: “Over and out. Thank you Lewes.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The club have revealed their are closing their girls’ football pathway.

They said: “On the back of the 2023/24 season which sadly resulted in relegation for our women’s first team, the Board of Directors have undertaken a lengthy evaluation process, with a view to stabilising club operations in the 2024/25 season to create a future platform for growth.

“With the development of the Women’s game, the operating standards and expectations have grown exponentially without requisite centralised funding to match. Youth football is becoming increasingly competitive and expensive without any guarantees or robust compensation processes to safeguard talent.

“The club is proud of the achievements of our exceptional pathway staff Kerri Coombs and Tim Heal who have dramatically enhanced the offer to our youth girls over the last two seasons, providing much better one-to-one, 360 care and significantly better technical and tactical support. We are proud that they have managed to place and support a number of our youth players into adult football to continue their development and supported others into Professional Game Academies, which Lewes does not yet have the resources to fund.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The review has highlighted that, in order to develop and retain players with the hope of them one-day progressing as professionals, it requires significant and dedicated investment, time and resources. We do not wish to run a youth set-up that does not provide the support and resources that these players need and deserve.

“We have therefore decided to pause the current holistic approach to our girls’ football pathway during season 2024/25, whilst still retaining some youth talent within our first team set-up. While this decision was not made lightly, we believe it is essential to provide clarity and stability, consolidate our efforts, refine our strategies, and then focus on re-growing our girls’ program in the future.

“From next season, the club will no longer be running a pathway. We will continue to support and focus on our ‘C’ group aged 16 – 20 which launched at the start of the 2023/24 season. The select group will benefit from increased first team training and contact time, paired with match maturation at senior level with local first teams along with holistic performance support. The board will confirm trial dates for the C group in due course.

“While there will be fewer players involved, we intend that they will be of an increasingly high calibre over the coming seasons. The club will specialise in developing one age group rather than trying to master the whole talent spectrum. Budgets will be refocused so that we give ourselves the biggest possible chance to achieve our ultimate objectives.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The club are mindful of the impact of these proposals on the existing staff and players. We will look to offer whatever support we can over the coming weeks to all of those affected by this. The decision made was not taken lightly, however we believe it is the correct one to ensure stability moving forward.

“We would finally like to thank Kerri and Tim for their exceptional hard work over the last two seasons. Kerri has shown incredible talent in moving from a technical and tactical role to taking on a more strategic and holistic approach to youth talent development, managing the whole pathway, as well as providing leadership and support to the coaching team.

“Tim, in addition to a school coaching role as part of his mandate at the club, has enhanced our coaching offer through technical and tactical expertise and strong relationships with players and parents alike. Both will be moving on at the end of this season and we wish them the absolute best in their future roles.”

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.