These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

100% COMMUNITY OWNED

Printed in the FA Trophy 1st round match v Marlow Saturday 2nd October 2010. We drew 2-2 in front of 221.

Lewes Football Club very nearly didn’t celebrate their 125 anniversary. Like so many others, they overstretched themselves and the taxman was ready to wield the axe. Their sensational climb from one man and his dog in the Isthmian League Division Three to the Conference National saw this small market town team up against ex-league clubs with full time players. These uneven odds weren’t helped by sacking their manager on promotion day with most of the winning team leaving. Then the Conference decreed petty ground officials moved in. No more drinking on the terraces, segregation, bag searches and bossed around by half witted security - it was a financial and PR disaster. They were relegated and then nearly demoted again last season. But those behind the scenes knew they needed to get not just their supporters but the whole of the local community back on side. They appointed a manager who is well known and respected – and then astonishingly, the chairman handed the club over to the supporters. Lewes became 100% community owned.
And this, claim Lewes fans, is where are they are different from other supporter run clubs “In the best traditions of the town we are making history. To date every football club that has found its way into the 100% control of the fans has done through bankruptcy or via a period of divisive, adversarial relations between owners and potential community owners. Not so at Lewes. This is a velvet revolution where everyone is on board and up for it.”
Lewes is no doubt a very unique place with its olde-worlde feel. They’ve got their own currency, the biggest bonfire celebrations in the country and so many independent shops it could be the 1950’s. And there’s no McDonalds. This place is posh! Where else could get away with charging 4.50 for a cheese toastie (just add the word pesto and watch the suckers flock in). The football club is where all clubs should be, in the middle of the town where it has been for 125 years. How many other institutions can claim to be in the same place, carrying out the same duties for that long?
So instead of making the tedious trip to Atherstone I decided to join in the 125th celebrations. Half jokingly they said wouldn’t it be great if 1,250 fans came. In the end it was 1,346. Despite being second from bottom crowds are up 81% on last season. Kids under 16 getting in for free is an obvious no brainer. The fact that you can drink all day on the fantastic terraces behind the goal , get to watch football amongst the politest supporters in the country – and get brownie points for looking after the kids. Well, who wouldn’t want to come? And with a population of just 16,000 it’s a stumble away from most people’s houses.
There’s a real buzz about the place again, no doubt helped by the copious amount of real ale being sunk. There’s a thriving youth team, excellent food (other football caterers take note) and the shirt sponsorship has been given away to charity.
Travelling to Lewes by bus, Brighton’s new ground is rising spectacularly on the edge of town. No doubt as my son Ruben gets older he will want to be part of that and the atmosphere thousands of people can generate. But non league football is what I feel most comfortable with (and I don’t include the Conference as non league anymore). A pint on the Dripping Pan terraces run and owned by the fans is always going to wet my appetite – and so it seems a good portion of Lewes people as well.

2 Comments:

Blogger JOBY said...

Soccer stinks, sexist, racist, capitalist, fomenting cultural hatred & an excellent device for diverting the masses from political revolution. All the time chavs are fighting each other every Sat arvo they ain't attacking the State.
As for the town of Lewes it is the most disgusting place in SE UK, an annual festival of anti Roman Catholicism each Nov 05, some may despise Pope Nazi Ratzinger (myself included) but these Proddies should CHK out their own back-yard. CofE have legal right to sit in unelected upper-house enabling legislation.
The worst exhibition was the ritual burning of a vardo (trailer caravan) Nov 2003CE with index plate P1KEY, a vile piece of racial hatred, I suppose Lewes soccer team will only sign-up a nigga if he will be a house-boy or chop cotton!

12:55 pm

 
Blogger brighton rebel said...

What a plonker! I'd love to join you on the barricades, but i suspect no one would quite be up to your 'revoluntionairy' standards. Maybe you should post similar drivel on the community owned, politically motivated FC United of Manchester forum and tell them what you think of 'soccer.'

10:53 am

 

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