We first met Lewes in August of 1968 at Colston Avenue in division one of the Athenian League, winning 2-1 but losing the return fixture at the Dripping Pan 1-0. This seems to have been the pattern for these games with the home team generally (although not always!) having the advantage. We enjoyed one further season with Lewes before they were promoted into the Premier division. Our paths crossed rarely after that although we did win an FA Cup first qualifying round tie 3-1 at home in season 1988-89. Once Lewes moved into the Isthmian League (in 1977) there was always the likelihood that league rivalry would be renewed and in 2002-03 we resumed our clashes with them which continued when both clubs were promoted to the then new Conference South for 2004-05. However after we were relegated in 2006 we did not meet again until 2011 in the Isthmian Premier Division. A notable game in this period was a 3-3 draw at Colston Avenue in the 2012-13 season.
Although we were relegated at the end of the 2013-14 season our rivalry was renewed when Lewes joined us in the Isthmian Division One South in 2016-17 where we enjoyed some titanic scraps. At the end of that 2016-17 season we were 2-3 down at Colston Avenue at 90 minutes and scored two goals in a minute to win 4-3. In the following season Lewes had pulled themselves back into the game from 2-0 down scoring twice in 4 mins. However we took all three points with the winner through Mickel Miller on 76 mins.
In our Championship winning season we met on a Tuesday evening in March at the Dripping Pan when both clubs were neck and neck for the Isthmian South title. Kalvin Morath-Gibbs stabbed in the only goal of the game inside two minutes and thereafter we managed to keep out the home side who threw everything at us. The following season, we were both back in the Premier Division and who do we play in the opening fixture? The very same club we pipped to the title the previous season, Lewes, and away as well! Ola Sogbanmu put us 1-0 up on the hour and despite going down to 10 men on 70 mins we hung on for the win.
For 2019-20 there was controversy again as we stole our third consecutive 1-0 win at Lewes. After a long clearance by goalkeeper Kleton Perntreou, Christie Pattison won the race for the ball with Lewes keeper to stab the ball goalwards. Despite the best efforts of a covering Lewes defender the Assistant Referee confirmed the ball had crossed the line before it was hooked away. We did not meet in the Covid curtailed 2020-21 season so we had to wait until October 2021 before meeting them again with Lewes this time coming out on top with a 1-0 win courtesy of a Michael Klass special in the 74th minute.
Games between the Rooks and the Robins in the modern era are rarely dull and this Saturday is sure to be no different!