Looking back to the end of May, the football club had just celebrated their Centenary, plus completed one of its most successful seasons for at least the last 20 years. The first team finished a respectable 5th in Division 1 and the Reserves finished 3rd in Division 3 South.  On Sundays Lavant did the double, winning the league and cup, and the Youth team finished a respectable 3rd in the league in their first season. Lavant football club were on a high and things looked great for next season.

Shortly afterwards we then were hit with our first low with the news that the youth football team would not be carrying on next season as both managers Rick McKenna and Karl Gaffney had decided they wanted to take a break from managing youth sides. With no eager management replacements readily stepping forward our plans for a village youth team had to be shelved for the forthcoming season at least. Although it would be great to see a youth team established at Lavant once more in the future.

In early July we then had a high with the news that the Reserves had been promoted to Division 2 South.

Around the same time we also experienced another low as we became aware that following a number of managerial changes to local teams in the Chichester area, Lavant FC were suddenly faced with the prospect of potentially losing a number of last seasons players to other clubs.  This suddenly effected our preparations. The usual number of players attending training sessions decreased from that of previous seasons and a number of players who had previously sign for the club were now hesitant to sign on as they kept their options open.

On the up (a big up), the vast majority of the players did re-sign from last season and we have had an influx of new players at training.  All who have played at a good standard of football, have also signed on and have quickly settled in at the club.

Next just as we were ready to start the now critical pre-season fixtures to start a massive low hit the club as a number of travellers forced their way through the main gate and onto the top pitch at the end of July and within days there were over 30 families parking on and around the pitch.

Webpic Travellers Move In  26th July 2011

Football Pitch or Camp Site?

This had a two fold effect as we were faced with the prospect of losing access to the pitch. Firstly the club were now facing a major issue as the pre-season fixtures were due to be disrupted and secondly and far worse a prolonged stay would more than likely result in serious damage to the football pitch and goals.

Ten days later and thanks to the efforts of Mr Lock the land owner and the Parish Council the travellers were served an injunction and thank goodness the travellers swiftly left the site.

The aftermath of just 10 days of occupation by the travellers was devastating.  The pitch was thankfully still in one piece although it was downtrodden and worn down in places by all the vehicle traffic movement, plus there was debris and mess scattered everywhere. The goals were damaged and the field and surrounding areas were littered with further major debris typical of that left by the travellers.  Fencing and an access gate was also damaged which now requires replacing.

The first pre-season friendly had to be rearranged and the only pitch we could find available at short notice was at Chichester University at a hire cost of £120.

At this point we have gone from the real high of last season to a real low in just a couple of months. But now the only way is up.

This Saturday the new look first team won their first friendly 7-0 against St Richards Hospital.  A good win although the opposition we will face in the future will be much tougher in Div 1 and 2, but nevertheless this was still an encouraging start as the players begin to work towards the beginning of the season.

Lavant 7 St Richards Hospital 0

Goals from Sam Cole, Ryan Seacombe, Matt Stevens, Chris Colwell x3 and Louis Weller sealed an impressive victory in the first friendly of the season.

Lavant dominated the first half playing some good football and scoring 4 goals to take a commanding lead going into the interval.

The second half was perhaps not executed at such a blistering pace as the players match fittness levels showed. But the football and passing was certainly more evident and Lavant went onto score three more times, as well as not conceding, right up to the final whistle.

One real positive manager Dave Parker took from the game was the way the  new and existing players gelled together quickly as a unit.

On Monday the 8th August the Council are arriving to clear up the travellers mess and following this the ground is going to be cut and prepared for our second friendly on the 13th August at home against Midhurst Reserves, which is guaranteed to be a much more challenging test.

Web picThe top pitch clear up 080811

The clear-up has begun

Following this we then have only a couple of weeks to pull two relatively new look Saturday sides together capable of completing in the higher divisions of the West Sussex league. This is going to be a challenge, especially with the seemingly lack of availability of local players wanting to play at this level and with only four weeks remaining until the league kicks off.

Even with all the ups and downs the club has experience over the past weeks, the manangement team and players at the club still remain determined to succeed and field two strong teams for this season.

So as we approach the start of our one hundred and first season as a club, the only way now for us together is up. But along the way it is very likely there will still be a few more highs and lows as this roller-coaster seasons gets under way.