Lewes FC manager Tony Russell says the squad is ready to pay tribute to lifelong fan Dave McKay who sadly passed away recently, with a display ‘Cynical’ would be proud of when coming up against Folkestone on Saturday.
The club was devastated to hear of Dave’s passing and will miss his presence at the Dripping Pan greatly.
A win on Saturday would see Lewes rise above Folkestone and potentially go as high as second place in the Isthmian League.
And Russell hopes a third win on the bounce will get the fans roaring once again.
On behalf of the first-team squad we were saddened to hear about the death of Dave,” says the boss.
“I personally didn’t have the opportunity to meet him but I’ve heard so many stories about him. You can just tell by the social media activity the effect it’s had on everyone.
“It’s going to be emotional on Saturday. I spoke to the players about it on Wednesday and explained that there might be some emotions running high on Saturday, and it’s up to us as a group to try to give something back to the supporters.
“You support us when we’re down, and you cheer us on. I want us to lift everyone’s spirits up. We’re going to get fired up and take that into Saturday and try and put in the best performance we can.”
The club is devastated to hear of the passing of “Cynical” Dave McKay. Dave was a true Rook, following us home & away through thick and thin. Always quick to give encouragement to opposition keepers & loved a hug with a Lewes goal scorer. We will miss him very much. RIP Cynical pic.twitter.com/QhkugXTVDO
— Lewes FC Men (@LewesFCMen) November 15, 2021
Squad making progress
Lewes beat Haringey Borough 4-2 last weekend before travelling to Littlehampton for a Sussex County Cup tie, where Russell got the chance to see some of the U18s squad in action during the 4-1 victory.
And the manager is pleased with the steady progress that his team is enjoying.
“Coming into the game (vs Haringey) we weren’t in great form. And to be brutally honest I thought we played really well for 20 minutes in both halves, but in between that I thought we were quite sloppy,” says Russell.
“We scored some great goals though, young Ollie Tanner was in fine form. There were some good individual performances but as a collective we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“A win is important – wins breed confidence. I’m fully aware of that process and it was good to get a win and score a few goals for the home faithful as well.
“Against Littlehampton we made a decision to rest quite a few of the first-team squad. Some of the boys who haven’t been getting many minutes went along, as did a group of the U18s.
“It’s great to be blessed with Dale Hurley, our U18s manager who can produce so many good players. We are looking to tap into that more as we go forward at the club.”
Attention turns to Folkestone
Saturday sees Lewes welcome Folkestone to the Dripping Pan, with the two teams meeting for the first time since November 2019. We drew 0-0 with Invicta that day and Russell is expecting an equally challenging 90 minutes against Neil Cugley’s troops this weekend.
“It’s a huge game against Folkestone and for me it’s going to be the hardest game of the season,” says the manager.
“You have to give full credit to Neil and his boys over there, they’ve done a brilliant job. But they almost suit us: it will be a tactical battle. They pass the ball like we play, so it’s going to be perhaps easier for us to play against.
“Folkestone are slightly different to us. They’re a very solid football club with Neil having been there for 20-plus years.
“The squad has been together a long time, added a little bit of quality this season and are always up there. They’re always hard to beat and are well organised. They’ve got some pace up front too.
“This is going to be a real challenge for us. They’re everything we’re striving to be.”
‘Excellent game’ expected
Folkestone striker David Smith is their top scorer this season with 10 league goals to his name, including doubles in recent clashes with Kingstonian and Bognor Regis.
And Russell is aware of the attacking threat that Folkestone bring, and says the squad has been working hard on its shape over the past week.
“We’ve set the game plan, and have identified an area in which we feel we can get at Folkestone,” says Russell. “We’ve worked on some shape work to try and stop them at what they’re good at.
“If we can execute that then it will be an excellent game of football.
“So strap yourselves in and keep cheering us on. The crowd last week was unbelievable. We sit on the bench and when Ollie Tanner’s second goal went in after we’d passed it along, the roar was unbelievable.
“I’m never going to get bored of that. So keep coming in numbers, keep cheering us on and we’ll give everything we’ve got. Enjoy Saturday!”
Lewes vs Folkestone tickets
Lewes FC tickets for the game, which kicks off at 3pm on Saturday, are available to buy online (at a discount) or on the gate.
Ticket prices on the gate are as follows:
Adults – £12 general admittance
Concessions – £8 general admittance
Kids (under 16) – free!
Beach hut for six people – £99