Non-league football is not generally considered a hotbed of artistic creativity. But one East Sussex club is building a cult following with matchday posters that draw on iconic images from Soviet propaganda and graffiti to Sex Pistols albums and Hitchcock films.
Lewes FC currently sit just one place outside the relegation zone in the Ryman Premier League, the top tier of the non-league game. But the posters, which are created by club officials and plastered across the town before matchdays, have helped attract new fans and become a source of pride for the supporters.
Charlie Dobres, one of the club’s directors, said: “We wanted to show what the club and town are about. This is a small town of 16,000 people, but is so bonkers and pro-active it’s just the kind of place to do this sort of thing.”
Mr Dobres was one of the six founder members of the Rook 125 group, which saved the club from going bust in 2010 and changed its structure to one of fan ownership. Their inspiration was FC Barcelona. “We wanted to return the club to its community roots,” he said. “We wanted the posters to be an expression of that. They evolved to a theme that fits us, the town and the club which is deliberately irreverent, and plugged into the multicultural media.”
Lewes has played at the same ground, the Dripping Pan, since 1885 and it has a capacity of 3,000. When Rook 125 became involved, the average attendance was at 433 per match, yet the “energy boost” from the takeover and the posters saw it rise to around 600.
This week, the club used a Russian image from the Second World War hailing the motherland, to publicise its game against Canvey Island on Mother’s Day. Last month, it used the Banksy image of two policemen kissing to publicise the game against the Met Police on Valentine’s Day.