Date: Fri 05 Jul 2024

By Andy Poole


There's a revolution taking place in the New Forest and the Lewis brothers are leading from the front

It’s a case of brothers in arms at Bashley where Steve and Dave Lewis are leading a revolution at the Pitching In Southern League Division One South club.

Both are successful businessmen in their own right and after Steve took over as Chairman in May, Dave, a former Bashley player, soon followed as manager.

“Our mum and dad split up when I was nine years old,” recalled Steve Lewis, who turns 50 in September. “Dave, who’s four years older than me, was a typical big brother and looked out for me.

“He was literally the hardest kid in secondary school, so when I joined, he was in the fifth year and no-one dared touch me!

“We grew up in a working class family and really didn’t have much money. I often wore hand-me-downs and there were tough times.

“Dad [Trevor Lewis] was the inspiration for both of us getting into football. He had been involved with Sholing FC in its various guises since the 1950s and is still Honourary President today.

“Both Dave and I have played for Sholing, a couple of times we were in the same team together, and when he played for Bashley, I would regularly attend games to watch him in action. I recall that during one of his spells at the club, he played under the legendary Jimmy Case.

“I looked up to Dave so much; he was the inspiration for me starting my own business at a young age. He started his own cleaning business when he was 18 and I knew from my early teens that I wanted to follow in his footsteps and start my own business.

“I built my global business empire the hard way; I had little help and support, financially or otherwise, but through sheer hard work and determination, both Dave and I have succeeded in life and business.

“Our passion for football has remained and our affinity to the New Forest and Bashley FC drew us back here, although, I think rather than me choosing Bashley FC, the club chose me when the Chairmanship became available towards the end of last season!

“When Paul Lucas resigned earlier this year, the Executive Committee had a duty to find a new Chairman so that the future of the football club was safeguarded, and quickly.

“At the time, I was Chairman at Wessex League club, Totton & Eling FC, and I was firmly committed to my role there. I did have a very brief conversation with Bashley FC, but the message was that I would be happy to explore my options at the end of the season, once my commitments to Totton & Eling FC had finished.

“I genuinely believe that integrity in football is the vital ingredient any club official needs; I wasn’t about to abandon the guys at Totton & Eling FC, in what was a very challenging season for them, in more ways than one.

“As last season came to a close, the Bashley FC Executive Committee reached out to me again and after extremely positive discussions, it ended up being an easy decision to make to take on what is an exciting challenge here.

“This is an esteemed football club with a rich history and tradition. This is the latest chapter in what has been a romantic story for the club over the years.

“As the newly-appointed Chairman, my main focus will be to invest in the infrastructure and build for the future. In the business world I am perhaps known for being a visionary and in some ways a disruptor.

“Quite often I will look at what the competition is doing and then do the opposite. My vision for Bashley Football Club is not only to be successful on the pitch, but to be successful off it, and that will require a fresh approach and ‘out the box’ thinking.

“The journey has only just begun but I am already very excited about what the future holds in store.

“It’s going to take plenty of hard work, determination and belief, with everyone pulling in the same direction for the common goal of driving this proud club forward.”

For Dave Lewis, this is an opportunity that he has already thrown himself into as he puts together a squad that can make an impact in Division One South during the campaign ahead.

“To return as manager at such an exciting time and follow in a long line of distinguished former managers, such as Frank Whitman, Barry Blankly, Jimmy Case and John Robson, is fantastic and I can’t wait to get started,” he added. “My career in the game has taken me to many different places, but I have always gravitated back to the New Forest.

“There is something really special about this area and the people; I am bursting with pride to have the opportunity to lead the club into this new era.

“There’s already a real buzz around the place. I am pleased with the progress that has been made up to this point, both on and off-the-field, with some exciting projects taking place and in the pipeline.

“The most important thing for me as manager was to be able to retain a core group of players from last season. We were prepared to fall slightly behind in our recruitment in order to achieve this so we could understand what we have in place and what pieces of the jigsaw we are searching for.

“I am pleased with the players that we have been able to retain and the quality of the signings that we have been able to bring in to supplement this.

“We know what we’re up against during the season ahead. There’ll be no surprises for us as we aim to be the best version of ourselves that we possibly can be. We will go into each game with a winning mindset and the right attitude, if we can do that, it will take us a long way.

“This club has a history of playing an attacking brand of football and we will be looking to be on the front-foot and give our supporters the entertainment that they deserve.

“I have taken so much from all of the managers and coaches that I have worked with over the years and it has helped to shape me. The things that I have learned resonate with me still; I am a massive believer in that you are only as good as the people around you and I have surrounded myself with an extremely talented backroom staff with a wide range of skillsets.

“To be able to work closely on this project with Steve is going to be great and we have already thrown ourselves into it. We’ve always been very close and share the same work ethic and desire to succeed. Hopefully our combined business and football knowledge will be able to take this club forward into exciting times and a journey that will create many happy and positive memories.”

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