All hail Stuart Fuller! Seriously, this guy is amazing, and I can hardly believe that after 12 years at Lewes FC, his time on the board is now at an end.
Anyone who follows Stuart’s social media accounts will know that this is a BUSY person, whose business commitments have taken him all over the world and whose football passion for Lewes FC has taken him all over the country, be that following the Rooks, scouting opponents or keeping his encyclopedic knowledge of non-League football topped up.
I was a colleague of Stuart’s on the board since he got himself elected in 2011 until my own 12 year stint ended last year. He joined the Rooks125 takeover gang right at the start and his football knowledge was much needed.
Though his actual football ability, as demonstrated in a kick about at Patrick Marber’s house outside Lewes, is maybe best skipped over.
I want to tell you that, at first hand, if you think as a fan you owe Stuart a lot for all his work, you can double that, at least. When Stu first dived in, our women’s team were starting a season where they won the South East Combination Women’s Football League, dropping only two points all season.
But our men’s team were back in the Isthmian Premier League, under Steve King’s second period of employment as manager, and having a torrid time of things. His first match as a director saw the men’s team lose 4-0 at home to Hornchurch.
As Stuart said himself “The next few years saw us slowly sinking with a string of poor performances on the pitch and despite some brief glimmers of hope, until 2016 there was very little to shout about.”
Stuart dedicated himself to building the foundations for a renaissance in the men’s fortunes. He kept developing his knowledge and contacts in the men’s game and, slowly, with other board colleagues along the way, built the team into what it is today.
I won’t go into all the highs and lows of that journey but the hours, miles and efforts he put in were unseen by most, and unappreciated sometimes too. I remember he once took on the task of sending a departing board director some flowers, as a thank you, but was rather perturbed to get a message back from them saying the flowers had arrived, dead.
It seems his thoughtfulness in choosing dried flowers was not quite understood.
One of Stuart’s other self-chosen duties on the board has been to fully engage in online fan forums and, tirelessly, respond to every comment, even the most ill-informed and angry ones, because Stuart, at heart, is a peacemaker.
I sincerely hope that even those fans who, to this day, disagree with things the most vehemently will tip their hat to him and his indefatigable openness.
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t had plenty of moments of feeling FFS, but Stuart is not a lid-flipper and has had his board colleagues to offload to, when needed.
One other thing you may or may not know about Stuart is that he is a DFB, Down From Bromley. This is a guy who doesn’t even live in Lewes but utterly fell in love with the town and its crazy football club. And because he travels so extensively, sits on the Isthmian League Board and talks at countless events, he is always repping Lewes FC too.
So, if you see Stu at a match, buy him a pint, though maybe not all at the same game. But, as a minimum, shake his hand, look him in the eye and say: “Thank you Stuart”.