It all began 100 years ago when, in time honoured tradition, a group of fine-minded fellows got together for an inaugural meeting. The year was 1905 and records show that the first secretary of the newly formed club was Mr A.E.Cosham of High Street,Ringmer and the club colours were black and amber.
Initially the club joined the Lewes and District League. After reforming after World War 1, they continued in local soccer and achieved their first trophy in 1926 when they lifted the Sussex Junior Cup.
After World War 2, the club was playing in Anchor Field, a field to the southeast of the Anchor Inn, in the village. The field itself was a ‘working field’, which meant that the goalposts had to be erected and dismantled before and after each game. More worrying was the fact that cows owned by Mr. Craig were the rightful tenants of this particular patch of ground and did much to emphasis that fact by regularly leaving their business cards.
In 1951 Ringmer joined the Brighton League and began to climb up the divisions, until, in 1963, Ringmer was accepted into the Sussex County League. Within three seasons, the Blues had sealed third spot in Division 2 and in 1967 they also lifted the Division 2 Invitation Cup.
During this period, facilities at the club were also improving thanks to land provided by theMr D. Pitts and building work started on changing room amenities. As the village developed, the pitch was shunted around 40 yards to its current location. A prefabricated building was purchased from a site on the old Croydon Airfield and The Caburn as we know it today took shape.
The club finally clinched promotion to Division 1 as Champions in 1968/69 and after finishing sixth in a respectable debut season, then embarked on the greatest 12 months in the club’s history.
Entering the F.A. Cup for the first time in 1970/71, it became the first village side to reach the First Round Proper with a tie against Colchester. The preliminary rounds of that season’s F.A. Cup had seen them despatch a couple of county rivals, including Bognor and after a final qualifying round victory over Waterlooville. 1500 supporters trekked up to Colchester to witness a brave 3-0 defeat – a result made all the more creditable by Colchester’s later humbling of the then might Leeds Utd in one of the all-time great cup upsets.
Under the helm of schoolteacher boss Pat Francis, Ringmer went on to claim the County League Championship for the first and only time. The bulk of the side remained together for the 1972/73 season which saw them finish runners-up in the League and creating another club first by lifting the Sussex Senior Cup.
A sustained period of meritocracy was then topped by the relegation into Division 2 at the end of the 1985-86 season. The following season was also a disastrous one for the club, with relegation from the second division only avoided by two points.
Fortunes then changed somewhat, with the stewardship of Rodney Ralph, the Blues regained their top flight status and in 1988-89, the side finished behind Seaford Town by a single point to reclaim their place in the top division.
Ringmer have remained Division 1 ever- present since then, but silverware has been a little hard to come by. The side lost to Burgess Hill in the Final of the RUR Cup in 1991/92 but collected the now defunct Sussex Express cup in 1995.Two year’s later, Gary Allen’s Ringmer managed fifth place in the league.
Two turbulent seasons for the club – avoiding relegation on a technicality – but the appointment of Glen Geard for the new millennium sparked a turnaround. Season 2001/02 proved to be the most successful for thirty years, with the side finishing runners up in the league and the League cup.
Leading up to the 02/03 season there has been a mass exodus of players with Glen Geard also resigning two weeks before the season started. This was a bitter blow for the Club as the team had done so well together and were looking forward to a great new season. Some swift movement and quick thinking soon had another professional stepping into the Manager’s job for the 2002/03 season
Glen Burvill had been appointed 1st XI manager and with his knowledge of Sussex Football we looked forward to a season of consolidation and to build upon the success of the 2001-2002 season, Glen was soon signing players and tried to get the team into shape, at the beginning of the campaign the side seemed to change every match trying to find the right combinations. Burv built a team which by the end of the 2003/04 season finished a creditable 7th in the League, but still no Silverware.
The begining of the 03/04 Season started well with Burvill at the helm with 2nd in command Ralph Cella, players were still coming and going it seemed as Burvill struggled to find the right combination. We re-gained the Chandler’s Trophy but all other silver ware still eluded the team. By November Burvill and Cella called it a day and left, feed up with the players when it came to certain things like training and general attitude. Player Paul Thomsett and injured player Reece Head quickly stood in as Caretaker manager’s and ended the 03/04 Season in a Mid-Table 10th place.
The Reserves faired much better in the Reserve section East, they had a brilliant year coming Runner’s up to gain promotion to the Premier section.
A former Albion professional, John Crumplin, took over the managerial hot seat for the 04/05 season and quickly set about getting a team together that wanted to play football but more importantly wanted to win. It was soon apparent that with Crumplin’s flair and enthusiasm The Blues started to look like a team to be reckoned with once again Working with a small squad that stayed together all season Crumplin pulled off an amazing first season as manager. An early success saw the club hit the headlines with its record 10-0 win in the FA Vase. Other cup success followed in the shape of a first victory in the RUR Cup Final while the season ended with a losing appearance in the Sussex Senior Cup final. Ringmer also retained the Chandler’s Cup once again with a 3-2 win over Lewes on their own Turf. Altogether it was the best season’s football for years, but due to so many cup rounds and having a small squad the league position suffered a little but the Blues had still finished in a creditable 6th place.
The Reserves had a disappointing season in the Premier League finishing at the bottom of the table. Again it was a hard season with manager Steve Gunn leaving mid season, a new manager Dermot MacNeill was drafted in to finish the season.
After last season’s performance and promotion to the Premier league we hoped for good, not great but good things and an interesting season of matches. Alas this was not to be with disgruntled managers mid season and some poor player dedication it all went wrong, with some matches there were barely enough players to field a full team and when they did towards the end of the season because of the 1st cup run key players were taken from the reserve team to cover. It was an impossible task for new manager Dermot O’Neil to to gain many if any wins as he had to concentrate on building up the team and the moral of the players ready for the next season as the 04/05 season was already lost when he took over.
The 05/06 season and Crumplin’s second term as manager, this was to prove another good year with the Blues heading the table for much of the season but they took their foot off the gas towards the end and finished that season in second place. The promotion hopes faded as the needed ground improvements proved to be a troublesome aspect through the local council giving necessary planning and of course that old problem of money. Crumplin and most of the team left the club at the end of the season leaving the club to ponder on next season without a manager or team.
Ringmer retained the Localy challenged Chandlers Trophy after bearing Lewes3-0 at the start of the season. Alas this season the other cup matches did not even come close to the silver a difference to last seasons efforts, but this gave us the chance of concentrating on trying to win the league which almost happened!
Reserve manager Dermot MacNeill & asst manager Peter Dunk have seen their lads win the Reserve section East title in their first full season as a team. It went all the way until the last match to decide the winners though, but with The Blues winning 1-3 at Eastbourne UA, put the team on equal points of 46 with then leaders Westfield but Ringmer won on goal difference.
Steve Johnson who had formerly managed Arundel, Weymouth and Burgess Hill was appointed the new 1st X1 manager of 05/06 with him as assistant was manager and club coach Bechard Bejaoui, a former French Under-19 international who holds a UEFA “B” coaching badge.
The pair did pretty well to finish 9th in the table after starting the season with only one player from the previous season. Johnson did well to re-build the 1st team with the first showing of Herve King (Burgess Hill & Croydon) and Marc Whiteman amongst other ex Ryman players. Another poor show in the first match of the FA Cup against Ardley and also Selsey in the FA Vase was a big disappointment. The RUR Cup going out to Chichester in the second round, We did however make the quarter finals of the John O’Hara Cup, finally bowing out in a close 1-0 game with Crowborough. Out misarably to Whitehawk in the sussex Senior Cup in the first match and finally got knocked out of the Brighton Charity Cup by Horsham in the forth Round.
The reserve team now with Peter Dunk stepping up to take on the managers role as Dermott MacNeil had quit the club at the end of the previous season. Dunk was assisted by Dave Adams and they set about taking on the teams in the premier league. Alas things did not go to plan and by mid season Dunk was having trouble keeping a team together, even donning his boots covering goal duty. It was compounded by key players taken for the first side and a lack of players available from the youth side. Inevitably the reserves finished second from bottom to carry on their up and down divisional status. Dunky had had enough and stood down as manager at the end of the season with most of the reserves leaving as well.
Links with Bridgeview saw their previous U16’s join Ringmer to form the U 18 side. At the helm was Bob Munnery and coach Steve Oliver both from Bridgeview.
The 07-08 Season in many respects had been a successful season although manager Steve Johnson was a bit disappointed at only finishing 10th in the league table. Never the less the first XI with Paul Thomsett as asst manager after B.B. left the club, had reached the third round of the FA Vase for the first time in the club’s history. They also reached the final of the John O’Hara League Cup only to be beaten 9-10 in a penalty shoot out against the final winners Shoreham FC. In addition they reached the semi finals of the R.U.R. Cup and the Brighton Charity Cup. Mark Whiteman was the league and the club’s top scorer for this season.
Pride of place went though to the achievements of the Reserves who finished second in the County League Reserve Section East to secure promotion and they also reached the semi final of the Sussex Intermediate Cup, for the first time since 1963, before losing 0-1 to the Sussex County League Division 3 champions, Loxwood. Not bad as at the beginning of the season as new reserve and U18’s team manager Bob Munnery had to start both teams from scratch, with many of the reserve players also playing for the youth team. Even more remarkable, and a sure sign of the club’s commitment to bringing on the young players, 25 Reserve or Youth team players also featured on merit for the first XI during the year. The U18’s also had a good season coached by Steve Oliver they finished 4th in the league table.
Tragically the season was over shadowed buy the sudden death of Herve King after collapsing on the pitch soon after the start of the match. Herve a firm favourite with the players and the Club had just returned to the Caburn after playing elsewhere. A new award, the Herve King Memorial Trophy, was donated to the club by the family of his partner Sarah Benkel and fittingly the initial recipient of the Trophy was Luke Gedling who did much to help his team-mates overcome the tragedy.
Unfortunately as we have seen so many times before after a promising season it all collapsed after Steve Johnson quit after a disagreement within the clubs walls, this of course led to nearly all of the first team walked away after the announcement that there would be no budget for the next season. With no manager, Bob Munnery was asked if he and Steve Oliver could take up the first team reins, this they duly did but with no budget and no players it seemed it was going to be an interesting prospect and to a lot an impossible one.
This season was to prove an incredible season of commitment and dedication to all of those involved with the football at this club. Hit with excitement at being at the top of the league table after just four matches with the youngest 1st team this league has ever seen, some of whom had not even played in senior football. To sheer frustration and the pain of loosing ten league points after Ringmer FC Ltd went in to administration. It would have been at this point that any other team/managers would have quit and left but this did not happen. All remained and fought even harder to get those ten points back, which they did within five hard fought matches. A remarkable recovery but we were still ten points adrift of where we should be which was again in itself frustrating. We ended the season in tenth spot but we unofficially know it was sixth.
The cup run was not great, the FA Cup winning the first against Rye United 4-3 then knocked out in the second tie against Crowborough loosing 3-1 The Fa Vase we slipped up and lost the first round 4-0 against Kent side Lordswood, in which we all agreed we should have won on paper anyway. The John O’Hara slipped by going out in the first rounds 4-3 against Peacehaven, the RUR we lasted just two rounds beating Sidley 2-1 but loosing out to Rustington 3-0. A short Suusex Senior too this season beating Pagham 4-0 in the first round but loosing to Horsham Town 2-1in a brave effort from the Ringmer lads. Brighton Charity didn’t fair any better beating Littlehampton 5-3 and seeing off Mile Oak 4-2 we succumbed to Seaford 1-0.
The reserves had a torrid time of it throughout the season loosing a majority of their matches and getting relegated at the end of the season. Not surprising when the bulk of last seasons reserves were now holding the fort in the front side, many had come from the youth side and must have found it a pretty big step playing in the premier division. Neil Thornicroft was drafted in as manager but this did not work out to well and he finally left at the end of February 09, Geoff Mactiffen was then appointed as the Reserve manager. Despite the dedication of the players to the team results were still not happening but it wasn’t for the lack of trying as shown in their match reports.
The pundits had written Ringmer off after the troubles and mass exodus of last season but little did they know of the pure dedication and determination of Bob’s Babes through out this turbulent season at the club.
This season has seen another change in the club’s history, chairman Richard Soan stepped down as chairman after bitter disputes over the ground erupted and directors were forced to put the club into administration. As of yet there has been no resolve and we wait in anticipation of a miracle to happen. The next season could be even more interesting than the last.