James scoops Lewes FC's Rooker Prize 2024

On International Crow and Raven Day 2024, Lewes FC is delighted to announce the winner of our writing competition The Rooker Prize. .
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Lewes resident James Ellis, who has written and crowdfunded two novels of his own, is now ‘absolutely thrilled’ to win the football club’s annual competition, sponsored by award-winning music podcast The Rockonteurs and publishers Hachette UK

Lewes FC – owned by over 2500 worldwide community shareholders and rising – has brought democracy to the running of a football club. The Rooker Prize seeks to democratise writing competitions by welcoming entries of just the first 250 words of a novel of any literary genre.

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James’ opening to ‘Fizz’ was judged by a panel, including Orion Books’ publisher Emad Akhtar, children’s author Georgia Byng, women’s football writer Suzy Wrack, author Mark Crick, and Lewes FC’s Karen Dobres, to be ‘vivid, well-structured and engaging’, ‘nicely observant’, and displaying ‘sophisticated humour’, leaving the judges ’keen to know more about the character of Kale Adams’.

James Scoops The Rooker Prize.James Scoops The Rooker Prize.
James Scoops The Rooker Prize.

The club presented James with the prize’s hand-crafted oak trophy, especially made by local carver Neil Turner, on Saturday, April 27 – International Crow and Raven Appreciation Day .

Famously nicknamed ‘The Rooks’ – after both the town’s castle and the birds which nest around home ground The Dripping pan – Lewes FC is 100% socially-owned and makes the link between football and culture in many ways, seeking to reach out and include the whole community in its endeavours.

James said: “I am absolutely thrilled. It’s fantastic news; not only to have won but to have had the opportunity to enter. Community initiatives like the Rooker Prize are an essential lifeline to writers, giving oxygen to their work, helping to keep the dream alive. I’m buzzing.”

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The writer now wins a coveted session with an expert editor at Hachette UK in London for feedback and advice.

James also wins £250 for a charity of his choice and has chosen Shooting Star Children’s Hospice.

"I used to volunteer for them as a kitchen porter, and was later an ambassador. They receive no government funding at all and make an enormous difference to the children’s and their parents’ lives,” added James.

Lewes FC’s Karen Dobres said: “We had 30 entries this year, which is an incredible response from our community. At some point we will rival the Booker as we continue to take the ‘daunt’ out of novel-writing by encouraging people to go for it – just as our footballers do.”

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The winning entry can be read below and on the club’s website. Find out more about James’ work at: https://jamesauthorellis.com/

Also shortlisted by the judges for special commendation were: ‘Brian’s Brain’ by Nikkan Woodhouse, ‘The Outcast’ by Paul Hayward, and ‘Hidden Hand’ by Martha Goyder.


(Genre: Dark Humour)

If you’re outside the ‘All Day-Every Day’ convenience store when Kale Adams pulls up in his old dusty car, you might wonder what kind of person drives a mechanical throwback like that. I mean, hello? Ever heard of the environment?

Watch him stomp inside and you think, ‘Okay. I get it. He’s some kind of ageing roadie,’ what with his scuffed boots, old jeans and faded tour t-shirt. But Kale’s never been to a gig in his life. You’d do better to guess his age because, to be blunt, he looks every day of it: hair flecked with grey like he’s painted a ceiling, face falling off his bones, body stocky and compact but definitely inches thicker than it used to be.

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Follow him into the shop; you might as well. A woman wearing a dressing gown sits behind the counter. She looks like this is the one job in the whole world she specifically said she didn’t want. Wait while he buys a newspaper and now’s your chance to say something. Well, good luck with that. No offence, but you’re just an obstacle between him and his car. He leaves you hanging and you look at the shopkeeper, but she’s not interested in you either. Bad day for the old ego.

You go outside and he’s gone. You’re left with a cloud of smoke and a feeling that all you are (and all you’ll ever be) is a walk-on part in somebody else’s life. Or worse yet, your own.

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