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Non-league Football

Peacehaven and Telscombe FC

About Piddinghoe Avenue
Peacehaven and Telscombe are a club on the up, promoted to the Ryman League for the first time in their history last season. The Sports Park is very much in its infancy as a venue, perfectly adequate for the club at the moment, which in time as the club grows in stature will be developed. It should hopefully be quite picturesque in the late summer sunshine with views of the South Downs. The ground has a tidy 150 seat stand between the dugouts on the far side. A roomy clubhouse and more stands opposite whilst the rest of the ground is open standing room.  It is open to the elements so come prepared for any weather.

How to get to Piddinghoe Avenue
From Brighton, take A259 Marine Drive through Saltdean along the seafront, enter Peacehaven and then carry on over the roundabout and through 2 sets of traffic lights. At the next set take a left into Piddinghoe Avenue. Cross Arundel Avenue and then the ground is on your right hand side. There is a small car park at the ground, alternatively there is plenty of room on the roads off Arundel Avenue.

If you are coming from Lewes then follow A26 into Newhaven. At the end of the A26 take a right onto The Drove and cross the water. Follow this road (A259) into Newhaven and out on the Brighton Road. Pass through two sets of traffic lights, then turn into Piddinghoe Avenue and follow directions as above.

The nearest station is Newhaven Town which is around 2.5 miles away from the ground. Bus numbers 12 and 12A run from the station to the bottom of Piddinghoe Avenue frequently

Admission to Piddinghoe Avenue
Admission is £10 for Adults, £5 for Concessions and £1 for Under 16s. Programmes are available on the gate for £2.

Our last visit – January 2016
Up and down the country teams who haven’t had the best of starts to the season will be encouraged by the fact they come into the first game of the new year unbeaten in 2016. Yep, we’ve all said it, more out of hope that our team’s fortunes will miraculously change simply because the calendar has rather than through any other event. Of course, for those fans who follow a team in the top four leagues the prospect of the transfer window now being open brings the hope that you may sign someone who will turn your season around, or get an opportunity to offload someone who has been the root cause of your problems.

Down here in the seventh tier of English football we don’t have the same type of transfer window. Ours is more of a fly screen which can be opened at will. Few players at our level are on anything more than a nod and a wink contract, with the mystical 7 Day Approach process often the only thing standing between that key player shooting you up the table or seeing you fall through the relegation trap door. I don’t really deal with that side of footballing affairs. Give me a notebook, a pen and a little video camera and send me off to watch a game and I will give you a full tactical analysis of a team, their strengths and weaknesses, set-piece routines and quality of pies on a nicely presented PDF within 24 hours. But ask me which form needs to be signed by our new Spanish winger (no word of a lie by the way) and where to send it then I’m lost. Thank goodness for Club Sec Kev and his magic cardigans is all I will say.

Suffice to say that if someone puts in a “Seven Dayer” you have a week to convince the player to stay with you. My idea would be to play on the ‘caring, sharing’ perception of our fantastic community club. A bunch of flowers delivered to Mrs Centre Forward, some sweets for Holding Midfield junior or a case of Becks for Goalkeeper’s flat mate. It’s all very well the club’s chairman trying to lay on the charm but when it comes from their nearest and dearest it tends to resonate more.

Alas, it normally comes down to cash. You will have managers who are simply better negotiators and persuaders than others but nothing peaks the interest of a footballer than money, especially at this level of the game. By money I also mean opportunity costs – the reduced time (and cost) of getting to training, the fact we never fail to pay players on time, that we have a very cool shirt manufacturer and sponsor.

But back to today. It’s the start of a New Year and a win could put us top of the first 2016 table. Well, when you’ve had such a desperate 2015 you will cling to any hope.

FullSizeRender (25)The first victory of the day was over the elements. Heavy rain overnight may have dampened the pitch but not the spirit of everyone at the club. Alas, in true Lewes style the elements rallied and scored a late equaliser. At 1pm when the referee arrived, the pitch was playable. At 1.45pm after over half an hour of heavy rain it wasn’t. By the time I arrived at 2pm and congratulated myself at being able to park outside the ground for the first time this season fans were heading in the opposite direction.

At 9am the pitch was playable. At 11am it was almost good enough for a garden party. At 1pm when the officials arrived it could have hosted world championship bowls. Then it started to rain….and rain…and rain. At 1.45pm the referee decided that the conditions were bad enough to warrant an inspection, and consequently, postponed it. “You should have communicated the game was in doubt” said one fan. But the game was never in doubt until the referee said it was. Five minutes later it was called off. You can’t make decisions on contingent liabilities. The heavy rain was forecast from 9am. It didn’t materialise until 1pm. Of course, we could have communicated that the 3pm kick off was subject to final approval of the officials but then that’s the same for any game. The pitch could be too hard, the snow could obliterate the lines on the pitch, the wind could cause structural damage, the ice could make spectating areas dangerous. Only the referee can determine how the weather conditions impact on the game. I totally get the frustration of anyone who travelled to the game but we could only work with absolute facts and not what ifs.

FullSizeRender (25)So instead of watching The Rooks I headed down the road, along with a fair few other Rooks fans plus a smattering of Whitehawk fans also without a game, to watch over the young ex-Rooks (Peacehaven & Telscombe) play older ex-Rooks (Hastings United). Not quite the afternoon I had in mind but having travelled so far, I couldn’t go home empty-handed.

Peacehaven & Telscombe 0 Hastings United 4 – The Sports Park – Saturday 2nd January 2016
Just before Christmas, Peacehaven announced that they were going to cut their playing budget. The announcement went on to explain that the decision, whilst a very difficult one to make knowing the potential ramifications for the team, was in the best interests of the club. Most of the senior, and potentially bigger weekly earners had departed, leaving manager Simon Colbran with a very young squad. However, despite their age and experience, and Colbran’s absence due to illness, Peacehaven put up a strong fight against a Hastings side who would still consider a play-off spot as a realistic ambition this year.

FullSizeRender (26)With the postponement of both Lewes’s and Whitehawk’s games, Peacehaven saw a significant increase in spectators – we simply cannot deal with a Saturday afternoon without our football – which hopefully translates into some additional cash into the budget for them.  The 250-odd fans will have seen a decent, open game, played in testing conditions.  Peacehaven certainly had their chances to equalise Billy Medlock’s early goal for Hastings in the first half, hitting the bar and missing a couple of great opportunities.  Players slipped and slid around the muddy pitch, with the referee letting the game flow as much as possible.  Hastings scored a second when former Rook Sam Cole finished off an excellent move that ripped apart the home defence to give them a comfortable lead at half-time.

The second half saw Hastings dominate, with conditions worsening.  The Peacehaven keeper struggled to stay on his feet on many occasions but he could do little with the two late goals.  First, a Sam Adams free-kick seemed to stick in the air due to the wind, and despite trying to re-judge where the ball would finally come back to earth, it slipped from his grasp and Richardson-Brown tapped home.  The scoring was complete when Cumming-Bart shot from the edge of the area after some neat build up play.

Whilst Hastings walked away with three points, Peacehaven can also pride themselves on being winners.  Not only did they manage to get the game on (or perhaps have a referee who wanted to officiate a game despite the conditions) but they also competed for long periods with a team short on experience and age.

Our last visit – September 2013
Today is the start of our FA Cup campaign.  From the moment the draw was made back in July, we have been looking forward to starting our long journey to HA9.  For all Non-League sides, the Road to Wembley will ultimately end in disappointment, but there are financial degrees of disappointment.  Last season our campaign started on a high in the scorching sunshine at Redhill but ended two weeks later with a feeble capitulation at Hendon.  Whilst the Wembley Arch was tantalisingly close for us to see, it would be another 12 months before we could dream the dream again.

9741081789_d3e184a2a0_bEvery year one or two Non-League clubs go further than their wildest dreams.  Our colleagues from East Thurrock United and Met Police have reached the 1st round in recent years, and last season Hastings United traveled to Middlesbrough in the third round with the hopes of all grassroots teams with them.  Every year we hope it will be our team.  That is the beauty of these rounds of the FA Cup.  No egos, no attitudes, no moving games for TV, no guts, no glory.  Every team has a story to tell about past glories, unique tales and legendary fans.

At 3pm today we will at Piddinghoe Avenue, home of Peacehaven and Telscombe FC, just a few miles down the road and over the South Downs from Lewes.  This is what the FA Cup is all about.  The conditions, the slope of the pitch and the motivation of the players – that’s what makes the FA Cup qualifying rounds so special.  Hundreds will be crammed into the small ground, probably getting soaking wet, watching every kick as eleven of the players will end the tie battered, bruised but one step further to being household names for a weekend.

My conversations with colleagues this week have been full of hope and promise.  Few knew where Peacehaven was, even fewer that they had a football team.  Of course I educated them on how the town was formed back in 1916 and named through a competition in the Daily Express, which was one by a Mrs Ethel Radford from Leicestershire and the fact the town sits on the Greenwich Meridian.  “The place where Tiffany’s ashes were scattered in Eastenders? And where Jimmy rides off the cliff at the end of Quadrophenia?” they asked.  “Absolutely.” Everyone deep down knows about Peacehaven.

9743176512_a7fb3eacc5_bThe Magpies are enjoying life in their new home in the Ryman League.  After aborted attempts to move up the Non-League ladder in the past, they won the Sussex County League last season and were finally able to take their place in Step 4, rubbing shoulders with the greats of Chipstead, Herne Bay and Walton & Hersham. Mouth-watering stuff.  They have certainly scored highly on the entertainment value so far, racking up 20 goals in the league to be the division’s highest scorers although they perhaps don’t want too many repeats of games like the one in midweek against Horsham where they found themselves 4-1 just after the break, only then to concede four goals to be losing 5-4 going into injury time before a late equaliser saved their blushes and an almighty rollocking for the players from manager Shaun Saunders.

The excitement around the shops and businesses of Peacehaven was palpable.  The club took the decision to start selling tickets in advance online for the game to try and ease entry into Piddinghoe Avenue.  With a normal attendance of 146, this would be a great chance for the club to boost their revenues and potentially get one over on their neighbours.

The Lewes Lunatic Fringe were 100% present as we mobbed up in the Magpie’s patch, the Dewdrop Inn before we marched en-masse to the ground, pleased that we had beaten the Sussex Police and their plans for a “bubble” match for the 150 or so Lewes fans.  Well, that is how we could write it, or perhaps Deaks, Dave, Danny, Terry, Kev and myself had a nice pint in the pub, a slow wander to the ground where the rest of the Lewes fans were enjoying the fine hospitality laid on by Peacehaven and Telscombe.

Peacehaven and Telscombe 2 Lewes 3 – Piddinghoe Avenue – Saturday 14th September 2013
If the magic of the FA Cup could be bottled and sold on market stalls around the world, it would contain the spirit and essence of this tie.  Five goals, last minute drama, an expectant passionate crowd, the infamous sloping pitch and conditions that would test the best in the world.  At the final whistle the Lewes players looked to the heavens and thanked their lucky stars that they were still in the cup after a first half battering from the Magpies.  However, a half-time bollocking and an inspired substitution turned this game on its head and saw the Rooks into the next round, with £3,000 in their back pocket.

The ground was rocking with over 600 crammed into Piddinghoe Avenue, trying to avoid the threatening dark clouds overhead.  The skies reflected the gloom of the away fans as the Magpies took the game to Lewes, taking the lead in the 13th minute.  It could have been worse twice more they came close to beating Rikki Banks whilst at the other end we looked on remembering Leiston.  Don’t mention that word to any Rooks fans – it is akin to mentioning the Scottish play to a thespian.

We can only imagine what was said at half-time in the Lewes dressing room but whatever it was had an immediate effect.  A Treleaven throw-in special caused some panic in the home defence and Jack Dixon smashed the ball home.  And relax, we were back in the game….for all of eight minutes when Peacehaven scrambled home a loose ball to put themselves back in the game.  Bugger…

But two substitutions meant that more than a quarter of the players on the pitch were either Crabbs or Jones’s and it was a forementioned crustation who got Lewes back in the game, setting up Jack Walder who hit an unstoppable shot from 25 yards into the top corner.  A goal to grace the finest of pitches, although the rest of the team would later suggest it took a deflection…

With a replay on Tuesday beckoning, Matt Crabb threw another cross into the box looking for the head of Olorunda.  The ball bounced up and hit a defender on the arm.  Penalty?  Absolutely.  Dixon stepped up, drilled the ball low into the corner and for the first time in the tie, Lewes were in the lead.  All of a sudden the time wasting tactics from Peacehaven disappeared but it was too little too late.  Lewes would be in the virtual hat on Monday at FA HQ for the draw and the £3,000 would be winging its way to The Dripping Pan in used £20’s.

This was what the cup was all about.  Wouldn’t change it for the world.


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