Plaudits for Seasiders from both leagues
By Philip Evans
20th Jun 2023 | Football
WHILST Lyme Regis Football Club were unable to deliver any silverware this past season, the club's reputation has been enhanced by a number of plaudits from both the Devon and Dorset FA.
Following the demise of the sports centre project, initiated back in the late 1960s by the former Borough Council, the Seasiders were left with a minimum size pitch, the surface of which left much to be desired for several years.
On one occasion, a cup final at the Davey Fort was interrupted when a huge hole appeared in the pitch with was adjacent to the former town tip. A old oven was pulled out and the hole filled before the game could continue.
Although still of a minimum size, tens of thousands of pounds have been invested in improving the pitch over the past 50 years and in recent times it has emerged as one of the better surfaces in local football.
Against that back ground it is astonishing the club has own third place in the Dorset County FA's Dorset FA Groundsperson of the Year Awards 2023 supported by Fleet Line Markers.
The 2023 certificate which Lyme Regis FC has won for highest appoints awarded by referees in the Devon and Exeter League
The awards are open to all clubs that operate at Step 7 and below of the football pyramid and look to recognise the contribution of those unsung heroes of the grassroots game and encourage the development of groundsmanship.
Club groundsman and veteran player Mark Bailey was nominated for his dedication and incredible work ethic to improving the pitch at the Davey Fort. Following an assessment of all nominations, Mark has been awarded third place in this year's awards.
Mark was nominated by ex-player and committee member Martin Rowe who said: "Mark has been instrumental in the improvement at the Davey Fort over the past couple of years. Not only did he source, design and order the grandstand on the bottom side of the pitch but also helped organise the extension of the pitch into the north bank alongside a team of players.
"Since taking over the groundsman role on an official basis he has tried to educate himself as much as possible using the FA and pitchpower resource. He has gone as far as to take an afternoon a week off work at great personal cost to improve the pitch.
"Since taking over the role he has organised a huge programme of works with great backing from the club including regular deep tine aeration, slitting and top dressing with 60 tonnes of sand last summer and as a result the compaction/drainage issues have improved greatly and the grass coverage is visibly better than it has been in years.
The Bill Rees Shield which the Seasiders have won for the first time
"Mark and his team of volunteers also planted 100 saplings on the surrounding banks to aid the stability and take water away from the playing surface. He has set in place an irrigation system for this summer and is preparing to overseed the entire area. He marks, cuts and tidies the pitch weekly and is even up there regularly on a Sunday morning setting up mini pitches for the under 8 and under 9 teams. Many of the benefits are yet to be seen but the ground could not be in safer hands."
Mark commented: "It is a team effort with massive help from a lot of the players, past and present, including chairman Gerard Kingsley, Will Meech, Kingsley Wellman, Fred Parsons, Alex Rowe, Toby and Robbie Fowler, Rob Harp, Robbie Fellingham and there are bound to be a few I have missed."
Lyme is affiliated to the Dorset League but their two teans play in the Devon and Exeter League, the first team in the Premier Division and the Reserves in Division Three.
From a playing point of view, last season was a tough one for many clubs, including Lyme who had to drop their third eleven, Lyme Rovers, during COVID.
Lyme have also been informed by the league that they have won the Bill Rees Shield after gaining the highest points awarded by referees officiating within the Devon and Exeter Football League during the 2022-23 season.