At midnight tonight, Charlie Dobres and Ed Ramsden will step down as directors of Lewes Football Club after nearly 12 years. The two were part of the original group of six, known as the Rooks 125, who steered the club into community ownership in July 2010, along with Alex Leith, Ben Ward, Patrick Marber and Nick Williams. Twelve years on they leave the club in a significantly better place on and off the pitch.
Whilst our existing Community Club rules are under discussion by our owners with specific reference to term limits, both will have reached the current maximum 12 year terms as members of the board in the next few days and so have resigned with immediate effect.
Their contribution both in terms of the time, expertise and financial support given to the club can never be underestimated. Both worked tirelessly in those early years, with zero knowledge about Non-League football, to save the club from potential financial ruin and implement a structure for future governance. We would not be here today if it wasn’t for Charlie and Ed, nor would many of our current (and former) directors or staff. Speaking personally, it was because of the passion and vision they had for club that convinced me to stand for election to the board back in 2011 and I will truly miss their contribution to growing the club. I won’t miss Ed’s eclectic wardrobe though which normally saw him turn up for board meetings in sandals, loose tracksuit bottoms and a hoodie. I did once see him wear a suit and a tie (see photo) on one of his rare occasions of watching us away from home.
It is hard to sum up their contribution in just a few words but I am going to try.
I have a notebook that contains some of Charlie’s bizarre ideas. As a career-long marketeer, he’s had more than a few daft ones, but he leaves behind the legacy of the revival across Non-League football of the match day posters, the beach huts (which started life as an April Fool joke) and of course a number of ownership campaigns which has seen our global community of owners grow from around 1,500 to nearly 2,500 in little more than 3 years. His energy, passion and drive for Lewes FC is unquestionable and whilst he steps down from the board, he will still be working with the club in the areas that he has expertise in. Charlie is someone who wants to be involved in everything, not in a controlling way but because he cares deeply about the club and what it can achieve.
Ed’s vision for the future of the club saw us build our own 3G, champion the growth of our Women’s team and drive ahead with our equality stance, even when so many people outside of the club doubted it would be a success. The fact that national sides including Norway, New Zealand and the Netherlands have now taken the equal pay approach may not be directly attributed to his election address back in 2016 but many organisations took inspiration from his words, which became reality for the club in the summer of 2017. He’s had some strange ideas in his time such as deciding to buy dozens of cases of a truly terrible beer called Schnoodlepip notable or insisting the team walk out to the songs of German Death Metal group Rammstein, but he’s also had significantly more that have paid off ten-fold.
There’s few finer people that you’d want in charge of a football club and their absence will be greatly felt by the remaining board members and club staff.
Director John Peel paid tribute to the departing two:
“It was once said of The Fall: ‘They are always different; they are always the same’. This partially referenced the ever changing band line up but more so The Fall’s ability to evolve its sound whilst rigorously maintaining its identity: mainstream but taking a different path to those around them.
For over a decade, Charlie and Ed have been die-hard fans as well as Directors and more than anyone else over the past decade, their impact is tangible across our club today. In its infrastructure and as a football club with a clear identity: one that tries what it can to positively benefit its community and wider society.
I was elected as Director in 2015 and it has been a great privilege getting to know them over that period. It genuinely feels like more than 7 years (in a nice way). They are both relentlessly smart, courageous, knowledgeable, and generous. They are occasionally funny.
Their passion and commitment to their community is a significant part of why we have a club unlike any other to support today. Thank you to you both for everything”.
Club CEO Maggie Murphy also had some words on their departure.
“It has been a privilege to work with Ed and Charlie over the last three years. They are dreamers and doers, with a big vision that I couldn’t help but get embroiled in. Ed has been an incredible mentor and guide to me, challenging me to push my own boundaries a little each day. Charlie’s creative brilliance and out-of-the-box thinking is unique and special and rare for a club of our size. I will miss quizzing him about the significance behind the latest matchday poster whose meaning is just a little too abstract for me to get!
Both have put countless unseen hours and hours into the club, mostly thankless, rarely recognised. The club owes them both a huge debt of gratitude for where we are today. I hope they enjoy a more peaceful, less stressful, joyous return to the terraces this season.”
I am sure neither will be a stranger at The Pan (OK, so Ed might be) but it will be great to see them enjoying the fruits of their labours as a fan and not just as a director.
¡Hasta la victoria siempre!
Stuart Fuller – Chair, Lewes Community Football Club