Latest from the Lane: old friends, new friends and by the way... Eastbourne Borough fans are not dull

Never a dull moment with the Borough fans
Never a dull moment with the Borough fans

By Kevin Anderson

OLD FRIENDS… The beautiful parish church of St Mary’s, Willingdon, was filled to standing-room last Friday for the funeral of one of the gentlemen of sport, Roger Addems. Footballers scrubbed up properly, and Abide With Me sung throatily. Old friendships renewed, inter-club rivalries put firmly aside, and lovely memories from the family and from Coops and other friends. There was sadness and laughter in, well, not quite equal measure, for funerals are events that you never want to happen. The whole gathering decamped afterwards to the Saffrons, Roger’s second (some would say his first!) home. They did Roger Addems proud.

NEW FRIENDS… Tomorrow (Saturday) the Borough welcome one of the famous names among non-league clubs, Dulwich Hamlet, and surprisingly their paths have never before crossed. Hamlet came up from last year’s Bostik Premier, via the play-offs, and they have made a solid start in National South. Ground ownership issues have beset the club in the past year or so, and home games are currently played at neighbouring Tooting and Mitcham – where, incidentally, any replay would take place next Tuesday evening. The club is hugely supported, and their buoyant fans have nurtured a reputation for adopting causes and social issues. It could be lively at the Lane tomorrow...

Meanwhile, manager Jamie Howell was full of praise this week for the club’s own regulars at the Lane. “Home advantage is great in a cup-tie, and we will be counting on another big lift from our terrific supporters.

“People warned me when I arrived that the Borough fans are a bit dull. That’s absolute nonsense. I’ve realised they are knowledgeable and really genuine. They are warm and they relish the personal rapport with the players – it’s more like extended family than spectators. They’re pretty special and we want to make them proud of us. The better the action, the noisier they get!”

ALBION UNLIMITED… A few weeks ago, I suggested in this column that it’s high time we bridged the great divide between Borough – and indeed our local Southern Combination clubs – and the Albion. Now, for next Saturday’s visit of Torquay United, the Sports have announced a Non-League Day initiative. With no Premiership fixtures, Seagulls fans can enjoy Priory Lane experience for the reduced admission price of just a fiver. The offer extends to all season-ticket holders of any Premiership or EFL club. So if the Amex – or Selhurst or Stamford Bridge – is your regular place of worship, drop in at the Lane and surprise yourselves!

SENIOR CUP - SERIOUS SUCCESS… with the first round of the Sussex Senior Cup just about done and dusted, it’s congratulations to our local clubs on an almost complete sweep of victories. Only Langney Wanderers fell at the first hurdle, losing to AFC Varndeanians. But Eastbourne Town swept aside Sidlesham 4-1, and Hailsham knocked out Wick by the same scoreline, while Seaford Town notched a notable win 2-0 at St Francis Rangers. And spirits were raised at the Oval with a 4-3 victory, over Worthing United, for Eastbourne United – how rarely this season have we been able to say that? At tea-time on Saturday week, Non-League Day, I’ll be hosting the second-round draw on BBC Sussex. It is the most intriguing and most eagerly awaited stage of the Senior Cup, when those first-round victors are joined by the top tranche of semi-pro clubs – Eastbourne Borough, Bognor, Worthing, Lewes and others – as well as Crawley Town and Brighton and Hove Albion. Who do you fancy, guys?