LYME Regis Football Club crowned a successful season on Wednesday evening when the first team lifted the Grandisson Cup for the very first time.
The trophy was first played for 60 years ago and this was the first time it had been won by a Dorset-based side with the Seasiders now playing in the Devon & Exeter League. It maintained Lyme’s magnificent record in cup football, the club having won 17 trophies in the last ten years.
With the Reserves having retained the Football Express Cup the previous week in a very gutsy victory over Elmore 2nds, the Grandisson Cup victory was the perfect way to end what has been, to a certain extent, a very frustrating season for the Seasiders with their Davey Fort ground being rendered unfit to play on due to the wet winter for 19 games.
They also lost their management trio of Robin Townsend, Mark Lock and Steve Crabb in the New Year when Lyme’s chances of promotion to the Premier Division looked unlikely. But with Mark Bailey taking over as caretaker manager, assisted by club ecretary Rob Thom, the team spirit improved immensley and the First Team went 12 games with only one defeat to finish in third place in Division One and a possible promotion place.
Lyme now has an axious wait to see if the league management committee will pass its ground as being suitable for premier football. If it is, this will be the highest standard in which Lyme has ever played in during its 133 years of history.
Having beaten Heavitree United twice in the league, Lyme started Wednesday’s final as favourites, but the Exeter side gave a good account of themselves and at one time looked capable of pulling off a shock result.
There was little between the two sides in the opening exchanges but Lyme’s attractive one-touch passing game, with Mark Bailey and Robbie Fellingham bossing in it midfield, the Seasiders started to dominate proceedings.
Up front, youngster Bradley Rowe was making a nuisance of himself and semi-final hat-trick hero Ben Vine was causing all sorts of trouble when he ran at the Heavitree defence.
The two combined in the 24th minute to give Lyme a 1-0 lead when a dangerous curling cross from the left flank from Vine was steered home from close range by Rowe.
Lyme sat back a bit after taking this advantage and Heavitree quickened their pace to force themselves back in the game. Captain Harry Slack found himself unmarked on the far post and made no mistake with a strong header from the cross with keeper Will Meech screaming for someone to mark him. And they could have taken the lead when they hit the post just a few minutes later .
But Lyme held firm to the interval and after the break regained the initiative with their defence standing firm. Chris Herbst at left full-back was particulatly impressive in dealing with a livewire winger and his fellow defenders, skipper Dominic Rowe and centre backs Kingsley Wellman and the ever reliable Gary Knight were uncompromising in the tackle.
Rowe suffered a nasty cut in a clash of heads and had to be treated off the pitch, returning with a bandaged head, aka Terry Butcher.
The winner came in the 82nd minute when Lyme’s Spanish signing Ruben Rogel latched onto a superb through ball from Ben Vine to snatch the winner from close range.
In true continental style, Rogel celebrated by taking off his shirt and twirling it around is head and got a red card for his trouble.
The league’s referee secretary Terry Atkins was given the unenviable task of choosing the man of the match and he plumped for Ben Vine who always looked dangerous with the ball at his feet. A close second must have been Chris Herbst for his valiant efforts in defence.
And so another season draws to a close, a little later than usual because of the weather, but the Lyme faithful, who yet again turned out in great numbers to follow their side at this final, have been treated to a real roller-coaster.
Fingers crossed that next year the Seasiders will be playing premier football with local derbies against Seaton and Beer.
It is expected that successful Reserve team manager and the club’s vice-chairman, Gerard Hitchcock, will be managing then first team next season.