Tony Russell says fans can expect even more good things from Lewes FC over the next 12 months as he reflects on a hard-fought 2021/22 campaign.
Russell’s men may have fallen narrowly short of a playoff spot in this season’s Isthmian Premier League, but the boss insists further progress will be made next term.
A 2-2 draw with Bowers & Pitsea on Saturday means the Rooks finish seventh in the division – six points off the playoffs.
And Russell is confident of delivering even more next term.
“We’re already planning for next season,” says the manager. “We’re sitting down and talking to players, offering them deals for next season and going through that process.
“Players mention it to me straight away, what it’s like to play in front of the Lewes crowd, and how unbelievably professional it is.
“People like Kelly and Maggie and the directors have done so much work this season, to put things in place that will make things better next season.
“There are so many good things coming. Things in the pipeline that are coming out in the next few weeks will be a game changer for this football club, they’ve done some amazing work.
“And one thing I do know is we will be a better club next season because of the work these guys are putting in. There are so many positives.”
‘I want to get promoted’
Russell joined Lewes last summer and began work structuring the team to play his free-flowing, passing style of football.
Finishing either sixth or seventh this season is an improvement on the 16th place secured in the last full campaign back in 2019/20.
But the boss only has promotion on his mind.
“For me personally I set myself high standards,” he says.
“I want to get promoted and I back myself to do that. I know how much hard work Adam, Vinesy and Nathan and the staff have done to put the squad together.
“So to come up short is disappointing, because our goal is to get promoted. But that’s fuel to the fire to me.
“We’ve already started speaking to players to have back next year and identifying targets who we want to bring in. We’re all fired up now for next season.”
See you on Sunday!
Russell isn’t the only one to have overseen an uptick in results at the Dripping Pan this season, with more fans attending home games than ever before.
“To have nearly one thousand fans at the game on Saturday was amazing considering there wasn’t anything on the game,” says Russell.
“I feel we are building something special at the club and the connection we have with the fans is great. Seeing all the young kids waiting to meet the players and asking for shirts makes all the hard work worth it.
“We are averaging over a thousand since the turn of the year and that’s unreal! I was saying to JV the other day that we know we have a lot more to come, so can you imagine what it’s going to be like when we get going!
“I’m excited already for next season. The staff, the players and I are coming to the Liverpool game next weekend, so it would be great to see everyone there so I can have a drink with you all and say thanks for your brilliant support.”
Lewes take on Liverpool in the last FA Women’s Championship match of the season this Sunday. Kick off is at 2pm at the Dripping Pan and the club advises fans to buy their tickets online (at a discount) as tickets are selling fast.
Photo: James Boyes (flickr)