Fair play to them! Eastbourne Borough earn rivals' respect

You can win football matches, and you can win league titles and trophies. But there is one National League award that you can only win by winning friends and impressing opponents.

And in the season just ended, Eastbourne Borough did exactly that in National South. At last weekend’s league AGM and annual awards ceremony, the Borough delegation were taken by surprise with the division’s Fair Play and Respect Award.

The accolade is based on the votes and submissions of all clubs in each National League division, and decided by a final judging panel of league officials. The citation read: ““Not only did they make the Play Offs, they did it with class, winning the Fair Play and Respect Award for Vanarama National League South”.

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On the field, a creditable sixth place – incidentally, beating both promoted clubs Maidstone and Dorking en route to their play-off slot – was its own reward for Danny Bloor’s eager and exuberant team.

Eastbourne Borough's bosses with their National League South award

“To win games of football is always the primary aim,” commented a delighted Bloor after the AGM announcement. “But to win with style, to play the right way and to earn the respect of your opponents – that’s very special. If you give and show respect, you receive it in return. I am hugely proud of our team and club.”

Chairman Dave Blackmore was also all smiles. “This was a lovely surprise to round off a really pleasing season. It’s a credit to our players, and I believe it reflects the environment and ethos of the whole club. In Danny and his staff we have people of real passion for the club, but also people with proper standards. We won a lot of football matches this season, but also a whole lot of friends.

“I must also pay tribute to our officials and volunteers off the field. We believe Priory Lane is a place of passion for the game, but also a centre of good sportsmanship, hospitality and warm friendship towards opponents and visitors. It matters so much to us to know that this award comes, so to speak, from those who see us from the outside.”

This is the first award of its kind that the Sports have received from the National League, although four years ago in 2018 they were named Community Club of the Year for their work on and off the field, including with youth teams and disability football. Just last weekend, hundreds of youngsters took part in a World Cup Tournament – evidently won by Italy, since you ask.

* This Saturday morning, all supporters are being encouraged to take up the alternative sports of painting, mending and tidying around the stadium! The Sports Saturday Spruce-Up kicks off at 9am at the Lane.