Friday 3 November 2023

Ringmer AFC - Caburn Community Ground

Ringmer AFC
Caburn Community Ground
King's Academy
Lewes Road
East Sussex 

Ground Number: 1240
Friday 3rd November 2023
Ringmer AFC 1-0 Reigate Priory
Mid-Sussex Premier


The current club as it is today was established in 2020, but it can trace its roots back to 2004 when a team called AFC Ringmer broke away from Ringmer FC The two joined forces in 2020 and became Ringmer AFC. The midst of a pandemic was not the ideal time to start up a club but Ringmer managed six games in a truncated Premier Division as they came top of a seven-team group. The following season, 2021/22 saw Ringmer finish as runners-up to Sidley United. last season saw the team drop to 9th place. This season has started encouragingly for Ringmer and they also have sides in the Mid Sussex Championship, Mid Sussex Division 3 South and Mid Sussex Division 5 South. They also have ladies' and veterans' sides and also participate in walking football. Ringmer is a village three miles east of Lewes in East Sussex. It is one of the largest villages in Southern England. There has been human habitation since at least Roman times. James Callaghan, British Prime Minister, and his wife Audrey Callaghan bought Upper Clayhill Farm, Ringmer, in 1967. They moved there permanently after Callaghan's election defeat in 1979; Audrey moved into a care home in 2001, but James lived there until his death in March 2005, eleven days after the death of his wife.

There was a former team in the village, the more prominent Ringmer FC. They were established in 1905. Initially, they joined the Lewes and District League. In 1951, Ringmer joined the Brighton & Hove District League and began to climb up the divisions, until, in 1963, they were accepted into the Sussex County League. Starting in Division 2, they finished as champions in 1969, earning promotion to Division 1. They won Division 1 in 1971 and were runners-up two years later. However, results gradually started to tail off and in 1986, they were relegated to Division 2. In 1989, Ringmer won promotion back to Division 1 as runners-up behind Seaford Town. The club would remain in the top tier until 2015 and in 2006, they finished as runners-up to Horsham YMCA. Following their relegation, they spent three seasons in the newly-renamed Southern Combination Division 1. The 2017/18 season would see them finish 4th in the league but they resigned and spent a couple of seasons in the Mid Sussex League before being absorbed into new side AFC Ringer and moving into their new ground with a 3G pitch.

Ringmer made their FA Cup debut in 1970 and it was a memorable first season. They beat Arundel, Chichester City, Bognor Regis Town and Waterlooville in the Qualifying Rounds. Their run ended in the 1st Round as they lost 3-0 at Football League side Colchester United. 1500 Ringmer supporters (from a crowd of 6,139) trekked up to Essex to witness a brave 3-0 defeat - a result made all the more creditable by Colchester’s later humbling of the then mighty Leeds Utd in one of the all-time great cup upsets, Colchester winning 3-2 before going on to reach the Quarter Final. They twice reached the FA Vase 3rd Round. In terms of local competitions, many were won. The biggest was the Sussex Senior Cup, won in 1973 with a 1-0 win over Eastbourne United at the Goldstone Ground, Brighton. Above are some pictures of their former home. These are from before I went to see Lewes v Basingstoke Town in 2008, a rare 'groundhop' at the time. The stand was moved to TD Shipley FC in Horsham. The ground is now a housing estate called Danforth Way and a GP's surgery called Foundry Healthcare. An excellent feature on the club, written by Sussex Football expert is linked HERE


Following the usual enjoyable Saturday, I had a typically disappointing Sunday. This one was more obnoxious than usual. Despite the torrential rain, people poured in and it was as busy as Christmas. People were generally OK, but the sheer numbers made it very uncomfortable. Monday was a lot calmer but I was glad of my usual day off. It was the standard walk to town and back, even though I had a Wycombe game later. I'd much rather have hopped midweek but the options were extremely limited. If I wanted to take both Anwar & Colin, the nearest unticked ground was in Yorkshire. With me doing plenty of miles in previous weeks, a local game was no bad thing. I even got another freebie as my mum was not using her season ticket. The start was great with my usual pleasurable visit to The Rose & Crown. It went downhill from there with an error on my food order at a takeaway thanks to miscommunication. It was still nice though. The game was dull up until the last 20 minutes. In any case, it finished 0-0 with Cambridge United the better side. My first 0-0 for 40 games and not one that will live long in my memory.

On Wednesday, I was supposed to be going to Guildford City v Horley Town. It was my second attempt at a revisit and to help fellow hopper Colin tick it off. However, just with the attempt in mid-September, the weather, specifically a deluge of rain, had other ideas. It was a shame, but such is life. Whilst Saturday might be problematic, I had no such worry about this game. It is not the most interesting ground but pretty sure to be on with its 3G pitch. The club had an interesting history too and it took me a good chunk of Wednesday evening to research it. Thursday was one of my long days at work and I was glad when my nine-hour shift was over. The final touches to my research went in on Thursday night. I'd considered going to Reigate Priory in the past. They had a reasonable setup and were also very good on Twitter which boded well for getting match information.

It would be my first Friday night Football in a fortnight. As someone who is very keen that clubs play more Friday night games, I try to support it where I can. Either that or a few drinks are my reward for a hard week at work. Fridays are always very busy and this was no exception. At least it was only a six-hour shift and I had time to come home and have just over an hour's rest before leaving. With it being Friday night, the roads were not going to be great, so getting food might have to be knocked on the head. I got my things together and left at 4.45. The journey went as expected, taking 2 hours 45 minutes, of course, the bulk of the delay on the M25. Once I hit the M23 though, it was plain sailing and I was there by 7.30. After checking I was in the right place, I made my way to the ground. I wasn't expecting much but it was a decent setup, especially in terms of food and drink. I met fellow enthusiast Cherryhopper and there was a minutes applause for the manager who had won the club the Sussex Senior Cup in the 70s.
Ringmer were in 4th place having gained sixteen points all season. Both had played nine games but Reigate Priory were in 2nd with twenty points. The hosts were in disappointing form and had their game last week at Eastbourne United postponed. Prior to that they had drawn 0-0 at Oxted and District and suffered defeats 3-1 to Lindfield and 2-1 at Battle Town before that. Their last league win came on 23rd September as they won an exciting game 5-4 at Westfield. After going unbeaten in their first eight games, the visitors had lost their last game 4-3 at home to Balcombe, this run had included an 8-0 win at Copthorne II. The game was end to end, but the quality in the final third wasn't great. That was until the 33rd minute when Ringmer's Rhys Taylor drilled home a shot from the edge of the area. It was a great finish and timely as Reigate had been having a good spell. I ordered a toastie from the bar at halftime. It took a while but it was extremely busy and the staff were coping very well. I missed a couple of minutes but it was becoming niggly. Reigate had a man sent off for a high tackle which had prompted a minor scuffle. Despite Reigate coming close, Ringmer held out through some lengthy injury time to seal the win.

THE CABURN COMMUNITY GROUND is a great setup for a 3G cage. Three sides are available to fans, with hard standing on the side with all the facilities. This includes a 50-seat metal stand and a club building. This contains a bar with a decent choice of food and drink. In this bar is a shirt from Wycombe's 2020 playoff final that belonged to David Wheeler. His Grandad donated the land that the current ground is built on. There is plenty of parking at the ground but I'm unsure about public transport. 

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