Date: Sat 24 Jun 2023

By Steve Whitney

Former Lymington Boss Joins Stags` Management Team

Former Lymington Town manager Dave Lewis has made the short trip across the New Forest to the Snows Stadium to become part of Jimmy Ball’s management team at treble-winning AFC Totton, ahead of The Stags’ Southern League Premier Division South campaign for 2023/24.

The 52-year-old will re-unite with Ball and their fellow former BAT Sports team-mate Paul Masters to create a formidable football management trio with several decades of combined managerial and coaching experience at various levels of both the professional and non-League game.

As joint managers at Lymington, Lewis and Masters took the Linnets into the Southern League for the first time in the club’s history via their points-per-game average calculated over the two seasons that were largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, then consolidating their position in the Southern League Division One South with a 16th-place finish in 2021/22.

When Masters left to join AFC Totton at the beginning of the 2022/23 season, Lewis took on sole managerial responsibility with a team of coaches working under him, and once again led Lymington to 16th, despite racking up an additional 9 points during the course of the campaign. However, ground grading complications at the Lymington Sports Ground have seen the team subsequently demoted back to the Wessex League Premier Division at Step 5 of the non-League Pyramid for the new season, following an unsuccessful appeal against the decision.

Lewis played as a left-back during a non-League football career that saw him represent BAT Sports, Bashley, Newport IOW and Winchester City, before becoming player-coach at Folland Sports.

He won the Wessex League Division One title with the Planemakers during a campaign that gave him a new perspective on football.

“You’d think that after a title-winning season, it would be all the 4-0 and 5-0 victories that stay in your memory. For me, though, it was those tight 2-1 wins that we had to suffer through, grabbing a late winner or withstanding a late onslaught to fight our way to a narrow win,” explained Lewis, during an interview in the AFC Totton boardroom at the Snows Stadium site in mid-June.

After a short spell as interim manager with the Hamble-le-Rice based club, Lewis took a spell out of football management during which he played in the local veterans’ league where one of his team-mates was Kev Hallett, the father of the newly-crowned AFC Totton supporters’ player of the year Luke Hallett.

“I enjoyed getting back into family life during that period but the dressing room banter playing for the vets’ team kept me in touch with the essence of football. So, when John Pyatt made the call asking me to come and take over the manager’s role from him at Lymington Town, as he needed to devote more time to his growing business, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.”

Familiar names such as Nathan Hurst, Tim Stephenson, Callum Davis and Sam House were among the players that Dave Lewis played a big part in developing while also achieving the goal that Pyatt had set for him by winning promotion to the Southern League in time for the 2021/22 campaign.

“Paul Masters joined us the season before we won promotion and made a big, positive difference. And, although we ended up surviving relegation as far as the football on the pitch was concerned, Paul’s departure last summer did have a detrimental effect on the side,” he admits.

“He and I go back a long way. He’s a fantastic influence in the dressing room who knows the game inside-and-out, and it was no surprise to me to see AFC Totton achieve everything they did last season with Jimmy and Paul working closely together. The three of us all have a very similar football ethos; the players have to be at it, always thinking about winning, and we share that passion for the game that has kept us all coming back for more year-after-year.”

Stags boss Ball welcomed the new addition to his management team with open arms: “I’ve known Dave for 25 years or more. I had played 10 non-League games and hated every minute of it and was ready to quit until Dave ‘Mad Dog’ Lewis turned up at BAT, and I ended up staying for a good while longer largely due to him. As well as enjoying Dave’s company, I benefitted massively from his football knowledge. Last season, with all due respect to the players at Lymington, we had a much better side on paper but Dave had his team so well-drilled and organised that in both matches against them, we really had to work hard and think on our feet to find a way to beat them.

“They made it very difficult and it’s that sort of knowhow – to get players up for it and motivated week-in, week-out, irrespective of the last result – that can win you valuable points throughout a long, arduous season. You can never have enough good football people around you, and that’s what we’re getting by bringing Dave Lewis to the football club.

“That and I need somebody on the coaching staff who might get a round in, once in a while!”

Ben Rochey-Adams

AFC Totton Web Site

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