The beginning of the new millennium started on a high, but within a couple of seasons Lavant Football Club hit a low ebb in their history.
In the 1999-2000 Season the first team were playing their first season in Division I of the West Sussex Football League follow promotion the previous three seasons in a row. The Reserves were playing their football in Division V South.
That season Division I proved to be a big challenge to the village football club and the first team struggling at intermediate level and as the season progressed they struggled to field a full side. Eventually it got to such a point that the first team were unable to field a side and first team manager Cliff Massey had no choice but to withdraw the team.
The Reserves team survived the full season, but it did see its manager Dick Massey resign.
The following season (2000-2001) Lavant FC fielded only one side playing in Division V South. Now under new management, the new look team started on the long hard road of re-establishing themselves once more as a force back in the higher divisions of the West Sussex League.
The 2001-2002 Season Lavant were promoted to Division IV South, playing in a league consisting of Lancing Utd, Boxgrove, Selsey, Newtown Villa Reserves, Slindon, Southbourne Reserves, Watersfield, Slindon, Angmering, Wittering Utd and Lavant.
At this stage there was another twist in the tail of the football club still to come as unresolved issues with the Village Hall over outstanding hire fee’s for the use of the changing rooms, as well as issues with the Parish Council over the use of the village green resulted in the end with the football club moving out the village for a period to play their home fixtures on council pitch’s locally in nearby Chichester.
This left the village green empty during the winter months from activity, probably secretly to the delight of the village cricket team, who constantly had issues over the maintenance of their cricket square which was located smack bang in the middle of the existing football pitch.
Also the top pitch, now un-used reverted back to a fallow field, with only the old goal posts remaining to remind people that football was once actively played there, at what was fondly known as Raughmere Park.
The football club during the first half of the first decade of the millennium owed a lot to its survival and resurgence to two particular individuals.
Firstly there was Mike Martin. Mike was one of the players who remained with the club and who took on the day to day running of the team, which included organising the teams for match days, collecting subs, paying bills and washing the kit. All the back room duties no one really wanted to volunteer for.
His enthusiasm for the club and for winning each game was legendary. Mike felt Lavant could beat any team on their day no matter who they were and he termed the phrase ‘Up The Lavant’ which is fondly still used today as a battle cry.
Secondly there was Dave Parker. Dave had moved into the village in late 1997 taking up post the vicar of Lavant Parish. It soon became very evident to his congregation and fellow villagers that his real love in life apart from his Christian Faith was football.
At his previous parish in Crawley he had managed his son’s junior football team for a number of years and had studied and obtained all the necessary FA coaching qualifications. So when his son Tom started to play for the village football team, it was only be a matter of time before Dave got involved and helped out with some coaching.
Eventually that led to Dave being appointed as manager and he is still in post today. His commitment to managing and coaching the players is again legendary.
Together with the enthusiasm and commitment of both Mike and Dave as well as the mix of existing and new players at the club, it acted as a catalyst for the Lavant FC to once more move forward.
Lavant FC 2002-2003 Season
Back row: Jimbo, Justin Smith, Dan Johnson, Justin Glue, Martin Pullen, Ben Thomas, Simon Blackman
Front row: Alan Sheppard, Richard Lyons, John Chaffey, Barney, Ash, Tom Parker, Mike Martin
In the 2003-2004 Season Lavant were playing their home fixtures at the New Park road council pitch in Chichester. At this time the team’s colours were a white shirts, blue shorts and blue socks. That season they played in Division IV South of the West Sussex League.
The start of the next season Lavant relocated to the council pitch at the top of Oaklands Park, due to the fact that the temporary changing facilities at New Park road had been removed by the council.
By this time the newly formed management team of Dave Parker and Dave Kent had been in active dialogue with the Lavant Parish Council and Hall Committee about returning to the village to play football once more.
After some initial opposition both parties agreed to permit the football club to return to the village and use the Hall changing facilities and the village green as the pitch. There was one proviso and that was that the football club and cricket club had to come to a mutual agreement over the use of the pitch.
Together both clubs agreed to re-align the football pitch parallel with Pook lane. This had only been made available as a result of the demise and eventual removal of the tennis courts which used to be located next to the war memorial. Although a slightly smaller pitch in width, it just fitted in the available area and meant that only a small proportion of the cricket square would be used during the football season.
With the kind support of the Parish Council new regulation (demountable type) goals were purchased and installed and the new pitch layout was established back on the village green.
On the 15th January 2005 the football club played their first fixture back on the village green, watched by a large local crowd. Lavant drew 2-2 with TD Shipley Reserves in the Davison II Cup.
The result was secondary, what mattered was that the Lavant football club were once more playing their home fixtures on the village green, as previous teams had done almost one hundred years before.
The next significant event that followed as part of the clubs new focus and re-establishment was the launch of this website.
The idea of a website was mooted following the successful launch of a monthly news letter issued after training the first Wednesday in each month, starting in February 2005.
Club Captain Martin Ayers worked as a web developer by day and so after many weeks of pestering he finally gave in and agreed to design and launch the Lavant FC website.
After months of further persuasion Martin finally launched the website ready for the 2006-2007 Season.
This website has given the football club the opportunity to advertise the club literally globally, as well as giving people access to the club in order to catch up on the latest news, fixtures and results, plus join the forum and have dialogue with other members.
More significantly the website has also given us a great opportunity to have in one location the full history of the club from 1910 right up to the present day, which is easily accessible to everyone. This is quite honestly the best website around as far as local grass roots football is concerned.
As a result we can now simply download each season’s completed News section into the History section, allowing us to retain a journal of the account of the season as it processes from the pre-season training right through to the end of season do and trophy awards.