Pitching In Isthmian League- supporters predictions 2021-22
Time to take our first step into the South East Division, where we visit newcomers Lancing courtesy of Barry Sutton
We asked supporters of our Pitching In Isthmian League clubs to preview the new season, reflect on the old and predict the final outcome. Their predicted 1-20 (or 22) will be worked into a final table which you will see just before the big kick off. Barry talsk us through life at Culver Road.
Lancing- Barry Sutton
1. Thinking about last season- what there was of it- were there any highlights for you?
Last season was a tale of penalty shoot outs for Lancing. The three games that spring to mind all went to penalties – a fantastic game against Phoenix Sports in the FA Cup which ended 3-3 before we lost an epic shoot out 11-10, a second round FA Vase win - this time 5-3 on penalties following a 2-2 draw - against North Greenford, and a 5-4 shoot out victory to win the Sussex Supplementary shield against Loxwood. Considering how disjointed last season was we were extremely fortunate to have some good memories of it.
2. Moving on to your current squad- which players do you think will make a big impact during the 2021-22 campaign?
I think midfielder Tom Caplin could have a big season. He’s creative and never afraid to receive the ball in difficult circumstances. Ben Connolly is another who could have an impact – he has an eye for goal and the timing of his runs is superb. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the current squad copes with the step up though. It’ll be a challenge, but I believe they have the quality to cope.
3. Realistically, how do you think you’ll do this season?
Realistically this season has to be about building a base from which we can progress. The likes of Haywards Heath Town and Chichester City are teams we were competing against in the County League until recently, and we’ll be looking to replicate the levels of success they have had in establishing themselves at this level. We have worked hard for a number of years in building our fanbase and standing in the community and this, coupled with attractive football, has seen our crowd numbers rise 60% in the last couple of years. If we continue to build on the success we have had on and off the pitch then we’ll be in a position to kick on.
4. Which matches are you most looking forward to going to- and why?
There are so many! Teams we have not played before, local rivals and old friends. Personally I cannot wait to visit Whitehawk with Lancing. I went there a few years ago as a Dover Athletic fan in the FA Trophy and came away with a win that probably wasn’t deserved. I was impressed at the time with the friendliness of the club and the level of positive support the fans gave. Coming from Dover originally I am also looking forward to visiting some of the East Kent grounds I haven’t been to in years and perhaps meeting up with a few old friends while I’m there.
5. What is your favourite away ground?
Half of the grounds will be brand new to me this season, but I have fond memories of Whitstable where we played out an 11 goal thriller four years ago. I won the raffle there as well which helped pay for the visit to the excellent micropub just round the corner from the ground.
6. Who do you consider your biggest rivals- and why?
I suppose Chichester as our nearest club, and we look forward to playing the A27 derby again against them, but I’ve often found that rivalries arise for the strangest of reasons over a number of years so I’m looking forward to getting some new rivals!
7. What advice would you give to any away supporter visiting you for the first time?
Culver Road is a lovely ground which is owned by Sussex FA. This means that it is, as you would expect, clean, modern and in good repair. It also means, however, that we are bound by the rules of Sussex FA and for that reason we cannot allow dogs into the ground- nor are supporters allowed flares, drums or any other musical instrument.
8. Who is your favourite player of all time (for your club)- and why?
I’ve only been a supporter of Lancing since 2015 following a move into the area so my list of names doesn’t go back too far, but even in that short time there are plenty to choose from. Mike Williamson, Liam Hendy, Naz Rouane, Lew Finney and Mo Juwara all spring to mind for differing reasons but the one player who stands above the rest is central defender Al Bygraves. He always gave everything on the pitch and would put his head in places other players wouldn’t put their feet! Sadly Al has been out for some time with a long term injury and has signed for Peacehaven for the coming season but he’ll always be a Lancing player to me.
9. Who will be in the top five at the end of the season?
Bear in mind I have less knowledge of this division than others but I will go with Hastings Utd, Ramsgate, Herne Bay, Whitstable and East Grinstead.
Right, who’s next? If you’d like to represent your club, email Ian on email@example.com