It’s difficult to imagine Eastbourne Borough Football Club without Len Smith (writes Derren Howard).
The chairman announced his retirement this week after more than 40 years at the helm.
During that time he, alongside a loyal group of volunteers, quite literally built the club from scratch, brick by brick.
Their rise up the non-league pyramid was rapid and they developed the ground at Priory Lane. The highlight was promotion to the Conference Premier (the top tier of non-league football) in 2008. Their stay in the premier lasted three seasons and as a part-time club, they competed admirably against others operating on vastly superior budgets.
Investment in facilities was always the priority. The Borough way was never spend more than you generate and that philosophy helped deliver long-term success on the pitch and ensured financial stability off it. Every football fan in Eastbourne (even Town and United supporters) should be proud of the club’s rise and respect the achievements made by Len Smith and his team.
In 2011 he suffered a stroke and although he has made steady progress, Len admitted this week that for once he had to put his health first.
It’s fitting he leaves the club in a healthy position as they sit top of the Vanarama South and the prospects for a successful season look good. Len will remain a member of the Langney Sports committee and the East Sussex Community Trust and will be able to watch the drama of the season unfold without the day to day responsibilities.
Happy retirement Mr Borough – Sir Len of the Lane!