Lewes FC chair Fuller: The future is red and black

Lewes FC went into the 2021-22 season with a mixture of optimism and some uncertainly from an on-the-pitch perspective, writes club chair Stuart Fuller in an exclusive column for the Sussex Express and this website.

Joe Taylor's 30-plus goals were a big reason Lewes Men got so close to the play-offs / Picture: James Boyes
Joe Taylor's 30-plus goals were a big reason Lewes Men got so close to the play-offs / Picture: James Boyes

We’d appointed a new management team on the men’s side, bringing in Tony Russell and Joe Vines from Cray Wanderers, who played a style of football that matched our vision and had proved at Cray they could build a squad to compete toward the top end of the table.

On the women’s side we’d recorded our best league finish in the 20-21 FAW Championship. We looked forward to welcoming fans back without restrictions and strengthened our squad.

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Lewes Women score against Liverpool on their way to winning the final FAW Championship game of the season / Picture: James Boyes

Early season women’s results were disappointing and the club parted company with manager Simon Parker in October, with Craig Gill coming in as interim boss.

The men’s side enjoyed excellent results in the first half of the season, including a 6-2 win over Margate, 5-0 versus Leatherhead and 3-0 against Folkestone, while a battle against Worthing ended in a 5-4 reverse but showcased some of the best football in the English non-league game.

Crowds continued to grow as Russell’s young team, including the likes of Ollie Tanner, 32-goal Joe Taylor, Michael Klass and Razzaq Coleman De-Graft, had fans flocking back to the Dripping Pan.

In the second half of the season, with the team pushing for a play-off spot, an average of 1,000-plus fans watched at The Pan, including the sell-out crowd of nearly 2,400 for the game against Worthing.

Not to be outdone, the women’s side had a sell-out for their final game, a 2-1 win against champions Liverpool, which saw the Rooks finish eighth, with an almost identical record to the previous season.

For the men, hope of grabbing the final play-off spot disappeared in the penultimate game but there was a lot to be proud of in terms of the squad the management team built and the superb support of the Pan crowd.

There’s plenty to look forward to for the 2022-23 season. There will be a new manager for the women, who will no doubt build a squad that will be focusing on the top half of what promises to be another competitive season in the Championship, while for the men, it will be continuing the positive work of last season, bringing in a few new faces and again playing football that has seen the fans flock back.

The Future is Bright, the Future is Red and Black.