It has been a challenging time for everyone as COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on normal everyday life. Football clubs, like Lancing FC, have had to come to terms with a constantly evolving situation which has put a strain on committee members and officers like Chairman Steve Taylor and son, Jack, the club’s Media and Safeguarding & Welfare officer, who has also taken on the role of COVID-19 officer. In addition, the new management and coaching team of James Rhodes, Kane Louis, Matt Evans and Mark Stuart have had to cope with a stop/start season with training facilities at Culver Road being closed for weeks at a time, in addition to the Under-23, Under-18, Womens and Disability squads who have endured the same stop-start campaign.
After negotiating a difficult hurdle in the first-round proper of the Buildbase FA Vase, with a 1-0 win away to Reading City, Lancing had to endure a spell of inactivity until they were able to resume training at Culver Road on 3rd December in readiness for a league game against East Preston on 10th December. A tough friendly away to Horsham Town, of the Isthmian Premier on 5th December was ideal preparation, as they disposed of East Preston before a gate of 152, by 4-1.
Next in line was the visit of near neighbours Worthing Utd in the second round of the Vase. The Mavericks progressed to the second round after being initially eliminated by Edgware Town. Their opponents were found to have played an ineligible player and the game was ordered to be replayed. Worthing Utd. came out on top with a 3-1 victory.
The Lancing faithful were rewarded by the return, after missing the whole of the season to date, of last season’s skipper and prolific goal scorer Lew Finney and dynamic mid-fielder Tom Caplin. Lew came off the bench to score.
A capacity crowd of 300 witnessed an entertaining game. Lancing made their superior league standing tell with a 3-0 win.
This was followed 3 days later with a demolition of Oakwood FC, propping up Div. 1 of the Southern Combination Football League. Lancing ran out 6-1 winners in the Sussex Senior cup.
On 19th December Lancing played what turned out to be their final game before COVID-19 again intervened. They met Greenford Utd in the 3rd round of the Vase. COVID regulations meant that none of their supporters could be allowed to attend. Despite this, the game attracted 155 local spectators.
There was a tense ending to the game as the visitors snatched an 89th minute equaliser, Lancing having led 2-1. A penalty shootout was how the game was to be decided. Lancing’s hero on the night was keeper Mitch Bromage who saved Greenford’s third penalty. Lancing were successful with their 4 penalties leaving Mo Juwara with the task of putting his side through to round 4 by converting the fifth penalty.
Lancing were drawn at home in round 4 to Flackwell Heath from the High Wycombe area who are in the Premier Division of the Hellenic League. This game was scheduled to take place on 9th January but, once again, COVID-19 has reared its ugly head and the fixture has fallen victim to the current suspension of all football at this level.
Lancing Ladies secured a 5-1 win against Milford on 13th Dec. This match was sponsored by Beach Green Hotel and was the Ladies final game before closure. The Lancing U-23s were able to complete two games in December, drawing 2-2 with Mile Oak and losing 5-2 to Montpellier Villa.
All Lancing teams, including the under 18s now face an anxious period awaiting an announcement about when football can resume. The longer the delay, the greater the risk that there will be insufficient time to complete the league fixtures. There is a large question mark about the continuance of cup matches.
Obviously, there are more important things to worry about, but the loss of competitive football and contact with fellow players can have an adverse effect on one’s mental and physical well-being. Lancing have two safeguarding and welfare officers, Jack Taylor and Gloria Eveleigh and part of their remit is to keep in touch and offer advice and assistance, particularly to any young players who may be struggling at the present time.
The future is full of uncertainty but Lancing F C wish to extend very best wishes to all their supporters and sponsors and hope that, as time goes on, they will be able to enjoy a normal existence in the company of friends and family. All of us involved with Lancing are looking forward to the day when we can again get together and cheer our team on. In the meantime, please act sensibly and stay safe.
Our thanks to Dave for his summary update.