Steve Eke is stepping down as manager of the Lewes FC Development Squad, prompting a rethink of the men’s youth set-up.
Ekey is the very definition of a club man, having first joined the Rooks as a player in 1978. He not only had a long and distinguished playing career with the Rooks, but has been involved in coaching at the club at various levels, including the Academy, Under-18s, Development Squad and First Team over the course of the past 15 years.
Steve was part of the coaching team with Kevin Keehan, Steve Ibbotson and Jason Hopkinson when the club reached the dizzy heights of the Conference at the turn of the decade. He recalls one particular game where our reserve team of trialists and youth players turned up to play Reading, managed by Steve Coppell, who had six players who’d featured in the World Cup in their line-up. “We got beat ten-something,” says Ekey, the something probably being nil.
He rejoined the club as part of Garry Wilson’s coaching staff in the middle of this decade and has remained involved ever since. He took over the running of the Development Squad four years ago and has nurtured a side that has consistently competed in the top-half of the table and won the Sussex Intermediate Cup in 2017.
Steve has never let the club down when called upon. He stepped into the First Team caretaker role after the departures of both Garry Wilson and Steve Brown, helping the club to the Sussex Senior Cup Final in the first of those caretaker stints, alongside Mark McGhee and Martin Hinshelwood.
“It’s difficult to accurately put into words how much Ekey has done for Lewes FC over the years, because he’s done so much,” said club chairman, Stuart Fuller.
“I think all of the coaches would agree that the DS manager role, in particular, is one of the most thankless tasks in the club, forcing you to travel enormous distances in midweek with an ever-changing squad of players. Yet, Ekey got on with the job with enthusiasm and that has rubbed off on the players he’s worked with over the years. We know there are players who turned out for us just because it was Ekey who asked, and he shall be hugely missed.”
Ekey says he will miss the day-to-day involvement at the club he’s been with for five decades. “I think the Development Squad has been a success for the club and winning the cup in 2017 was a highlight,” Steve told us.“It’s so difficult for clubs to get players through youth teams into the first team, and we’ve done that with several players. And it’s not only playing for Lewes, but for other clubs in the area too. It’s great that we’ve got players like Ronnie Conlon, Charlie Coppola, Harry Reed who’ve been through the ranks.”
We’re hoping that Steve will remain involved with the club in some capacity. We wish him and his wife, Ann, the very best and hope they enjoy their much-deserved break next year!