Sun glinting across the pitch, the golden afterglow of a 1-nil win against Carshalton, we chatted to playwright and Lewes FC board director Patrick Marber.
Thoughts on the season so far?
It’s not over yet. We could have a fantastic end where we win tons of games... we had two cup runs, a pretty good achievement. When Steve King left, the team were showing signs of wear and tear. But Simon Wormull’s pulled the squad together. Really pleased he got his first league win today. There’s also been the unremitting success of the Ladies’ team. We’re incredibly proud of what Jacquie Agnew’s accomplished. Great things off the pitch: we’re approaching 800 owners, a fabulous achievement by the membership team. And the Support & Save discount scheme is quite unique.
Does your experience of being a director match up with how you envisaged it?
Infinitely more time-consuming than I’d expected, and lots more pressure. I worry about the club more than I thought. It’s a daily involvement, you don’t just turn up for matches and shake hands. On the plus side it’s an exciting place to be around; ideas can be quickly executed. And I didn’t anticipate how much camaraderie there is, not just on the board but with all the people who work here. It gives me joy to see the Club Secretary on the pitch now, kicking a ball about with his family after a home win. It’s a community of souls who all care about this club.
What's it like juggling being a director with writing?
My writing has suffered! But I won’t be a director for ever. I have a lifelong emotional commitment to the club but not to the board; you do three years. Lewes FC has been a big part of my life for a long time. I’d like to get my writing – and family – life back. I’m not complaining – I wanted to do it. I want to come away from the board leaving a buoyantly supported club and just be a fan, come to as many games as I can.
Can you explain the allure that Lewes FC has for you?
I was becoming disillusioned with football, with the experience of going to see Arsenal at the Emirates stadium. LFC feels like home. Look at it today – a nice crowd, a sunny day, a home win, good food and beautiful atmosphere. It’s heaven here. It rekindles an interest in the game I’d lost. It helps that the Dripping Pan is so beautiful. And so near the station…
Why did Steve King go?
A lot of reasons. In general he wasn’t happy and we weren’t happy. There was a whole set of specific things that had to be dealt with. I enjoyed chatting to him and we had some laughs. As time went on we had less. It began with a feeling of optimism, which fairly quickly unravelled. He was the most successful manager in the club’s history and we were all grateful for his input; but we’re in a post-Kingy era now.
Who would play you in a Hollywood movie about Lewes FC?
In my dreams, Robert Downey Junior. Hollywood always casts a beautiful version of reality.Best and worst moments as director?
Worst: relegation after the Bishop’s Stortford game last year. I still feel that pain. Though being in the Ryman League’s not been bad, it’s an enjoyable experience. We can build it from here, go back up and stay up.
Best: a series of highlights. When we beat Braintree 2-1 at the Pan. An unexpected great win. The away game at Hampton & Richmond. Simon Wormull’s dignity and courage a few weeks ago when his father passed away, and Simon was back managing the team three days later. My ongoing relationship with Ibbo – he’s the main reason I got involved. July 8th 2010, the day we took over and held the Artists United event in the evening. The sun was shining, everyone was there, it was a golden night. I’m proud when I see a hundred kids running round at the afternoon games. I love the tweeting world of LFC; it’s very active and great fun. And I’m always cheered to see Roger the groundsman, who’s worked here twenty years for no pay. For love. He knows every blade of grass.What are you like as a footballer yourself?
I’m a 47 year old man – I do what I can. I’m an occasional goal-scoring left back. I love playing, I’ll play for as long as I can.
If you could get anyone in the world to be an owner of the club, who would you choose, and why?
Someone very rich who loves the club. No, it’s not any one person: it’s the town. I want another thousand owners. I’d like the club to be beloved in the town, one of the things that makes living in Lewes so great, like the Pells pool, or Bonfire. I want us to be the eighth Bonfire society. Even if you don’t like football: come to the Pan on a sunny day, chat to your friends, have a drink, it’s a fun afternoon out. You might just change your mind.
What writing projects are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got a play at the Young Vic (After Miss Julie). I’m working on screenplays of Don Juan in Soho, and Ingenious Pain by Andrew Miller, about a man who feels no pain. [Laughs] It’s the reverse analogy for me: board directors feel all the pain.
Beth Miller. Published in Viva Lewes, April 2012.