Tuesday 9th September 2014
—Margate FC 2 Witham Town 1—
The most fitting way I can describe the last two games, comes courtesy of a quote from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (who seems to be looking more and more like Swiss Toni of the Fast Show fame as time goes by!)
He once said that “If you eat caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to sausages”.
Not to drum home the point too finely, but I’d definitely say our two 5-1 victories over Billericay and Lewes have been the caviar performances, and although we’ve had a slight blip (if you can call drawing with a well-drilled Leiston side & being unlucky enough to lose with the last kick of the game against Dulwich Hamlet, who are a superb footballing side themselves, a blip) it’s definitely pleasing to see Margate pull together and return to winning ways, even if the performances have been somewhat sausage-like!
Last Saturday was definitely a day to remember – foolishly believing I could lug Gary Gator on a roasting morning was a mistake though, although thankfully Dan Boyle saw me huffing and puffing, and ordered us a cab to Hartsdown Park – a true gent!
Ted Pittman was good enough to allow Gary his own seat for the journey, and as we set off for the early kick-off in Essex, talk turned to familiar matters.
As Dan perused my copy of FHM (just to clarify – it isn’t a dodgy magazine!) Steve Furlong decided to play matchmaker once again for the physio-loving lothario (I’m expecting to see Steve hosting Take Me Out or Blind Date any day now!)
Various possibilities were mooted, but sadly Dan declined all offers – even an old flame of mine in Ramsgate (which is quite an appropriate phrase, seeing as she’d probably set my place alight, given half the chance!)
But I digress.
Dan was content to take whatever life threw at him, whether it be local singers, female physios or Margate ladies’ team members, and closed the subject by kindly passing his Haribos around.
As the journey continued, the other highlights were Andrew Ganderton expressing his opinion that there was an actual person inside Gary Gator, and Terry’s son Arthur challenging me to beat his high score on the Nokia Snake game – I’d like to say I gave him a run for his money, but I hadn’t played it for ages (Well, that was my excuse anyway!)
We reached Hornchurch in what seemed like no time at all, and after picking up a programme (which I later managed to leave on the train back – Mr Forgetful here!) Terry & I left Gary Gator plonked on the nearest seat, and while the good lady retired for a beer and a hot dog (accompanied by some superb banter from Rick, I’m saying no more!) I wandered round the stadium, doing my pre-match geekery routine of taking photos.
It was almost like doing a lap of the track at Sports Day, in fairness – although sadly on this visit, coach Simon Pridmore didn’t do his Usain Bolt impression, this time round!
When I got back from my wanderings, I bumped into Annie from the Hornchurch forum, and exchanged cheerful hellos, before noticing that Gary Gator had already found himself a fan club, courtesy of a mum and her young son, who enjoyed taking photos of him – thankfully, fame hasn’t gone to Gary’s head just yet!
Before the game kicked off, Jim worryingly chose to use me as a visual guide to how Lewis Taylor broke his cheekbone against Dulwich – although I’m thankful to say he stopped short of elbowing me in the face! I also bored all and sundry with the fact that I’d been in the same school class as Hornchurch’s number 8, Tom Davis.
Kick-off arrived, and sadly Margate started with all the speed and tenacity of myself after a Doner Kebab – if this wasn’t bad enough, we had a few Hornchurch fans feeling the need to criticise our support and indulge in the ‘moneybags’ jibes – to be fair, this atmosphere wasn’t helped by me asking one of the men if they were on crack, after he applauded one of the many nonsensical decisions from the referee.
Thankfully, this didn’t go any further – next time I’ll do the right thing like Terry did, and simply walk away.
Presumably getting a rollicking from Terry Brown helped the players in the second half, as Gate started with a lot more purpose. In truth, Hornchurch had a few chances throughout the game too, seeing a goalbound shot blocked by their own man, and hitting the post.
Lewis Taylor gave us (and the Margate dugout) something to cheer about, by curling home a delightful effort after a clearance hit Charlie Allen and fell well for him, and Jason Prior notched his first goal for the club, with a well-placed strike late on, to seal a 2-0 win.
(While on the subject of goalscoring, I must say congratulations to Martin and Jo’s son Jack – who notched 5 goals in a 6-3 win in Margate U8’s game against Herne Bay Harriers – terrific stuff, mate!)
Walking out of the ground, the Hornchurch fans were all smiles as they graciously wished us the best for the season – and I was pleased to see them earn their first win at VCD last night – I can’t see them staying at the lower ends of the table for too much longer.
It was a contented coach journey back (despite Steve heartbreakingly losing his accumalator in the 90th minute) and even my disappointment at losing my programme on the train home didn’t dampen my spirit – apparently, this was the first time that we’d beaten Hornchurch at their ground.
And so to Tuesday night, where we took on newly promoted Witham Town. I learnt from past mistakes and took Gary Gator in the cab, although his presence seemed to unnerve the driver, as he decided to take me on a scenic route of St Peters and Cliftonville, before eventually arriving at Hartsdown Park.
Catching up with Fraser and Frankie was a pleasure, as was meeting up with Mel, Steve & his daughter Yasmin – who Dan charmed into the obligatory post-match photo (you smooth talker, you!) Ivesy couldn’t resist photobombing, but that made it an even cooler picture, in my eyes.
Game-wise, Margate couldn’t have started better – a strike by Luke Williams was parried out by the friendly Witham custodian (who had to put up with being called Chico all night!) and Ryan Moss slotted in the rebound.
Although defensively, Witham looked frail, they were a very pacy, counter-attacking side, and I thought their left winger was superb – a thorn in our side all game! Thankfully our lead was doubled, as Tom Phipp seemed to get a touch on a goalbound strike from Zac Attwood, and for the most part, Margate looked fairly comfortable.
Unfortunately, some injuries were picked up, which knocked us out of our stride a bit, and in between talking to Beth Marshall (who had made a heroic dash to the fives pitch to pick up some tracksuits for the Margate mascots – it was a bit chilly!) Witham pulled a goal back on the hour mark, their striker crashing an unstoppable volley past this month’s Ryman Golden Gloves winner, Nikki Bull, which made the last half hour a slightly tense one!
I felt Witham put in a good performance and could consider themselves unlucky not to gain a point – although thankfully our defence held strong, along with some superb saves by Nikki Bull – three points well earned, ahead of our trip to Folkestone Invicta in the FA Cup this weekend.
Rick Simmons was kind enough to organise a car pool for this game, and the club came up trumps in the end by offering coach travel for £5 – needless to say, thanks to Rick & the clubs generosity, I don’t think travel should be a problem!
Here’s hoping for a good result at the Fullicks Stadium, before Tuesday night sees us travel to North London, where we face Enfield Town – the games really are starting to come thick and fast!
Terry, Mel & Beth’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter
I was lucky enough to have Terry, Mel and Beth all give their views on the derriere of the Witham custodian (who definitely wasn’t called Chico and had superb banter throughout the game) their marks varied from a 6 to an 8, although they unanimously agreed that his banter pushed him up to full marks – giving him a 10 out of 10 on the Arse-O-Meter scale.
Post-match, Larry Lemur and Mel came into their own with their backing of the ‘Ryan Moss / #FearTheBeard’ campaign – the results of which are displayed below.
All I can say is, roll on Saturday.
Up The Gate!
Tuesday 2nd September 2014
—Dulwich Hamlet 2 Margate FC 1—
Recently, some friends and I were discussing the possible outcome of the next two games (against Leiston and Dulwich Hamlet) and the overwhelming feeling was that we would be happy with four points from these two games.
Leiston proved to be a very hard nut to crack, with their goalkeeper and defence in particular putting in superb performances, although I felt Margate were worth at least a draw – which was gained courtesy of a late equaliser from talismanic midfielder Charlie Allen.
The Gate faithful, who had once again turned up in their droves (another 700+ attendance, many wearing costume beards in honour of prolific striker Ryan Moss – these were kindly purchased by Margate Youth Secretary Beth Marshall) recognised that the team had put in a superb performance, which was reflected as they applauded the players from the pitch.
It was superb to hear the Choir in full voice, and there was an excellent atmosphere at Hartsdown Park, one which I hope can be continued at future games – I genuinely feel it does make a big difference.
There was another reason to feel proud of the Margate supporters last Saturday, and it really showed the ‘friendly family club’ image that makes me proud to be a Margate fan.
At our home game against Billericay, a young girl unfortunately was hit by a football, following a clearance by an opposition defender – after concerned enquiries regarding her wellbeing on Facebook, the girl’s mother was pleased to say that her daughter (Abby) was fine, and already looking forward to the next Margate game!
A whip-round last Saturday to get Abby a Margate home shirt was promptly organised, with many fans chipping in – coach Simon Pridmore offered to get the shirt signed by the squad too, which really went down well – Abby’s mother referred to Margate fans as ‘true stars’, and I really would have to echo her sentiments there!
Our point gained against Leiston kept us top of the League by a point, although this was soon relinquished following a difficult away trip to Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday night.
Meeting up with Dan Boyle beforehand was a pleasure – and the young man was in fine spirits as he recounted the Interseptors gig he’d attended at the Britannia recently – to say he enjoyed it was an understatement!
I must confess to feeling nervous before our journey to South London – although the Dulwich fans are a great bunch, the memory of losing to them three times last season still weighed heavily on my mind – I was definitely hoping we could break the hoodoo!
As Dan & I met Wendy at Whitstable station, before she picked up Finney (much to Dan’s delight!) we ended up talking about my birthday that had just passed – it really was a brilliant night, and Pridders’ feeding Dan ice-cream in the time honoured plane fashion will live long in the memory!
On our way through Whitstable, in which the always delightful and mild-mannered Wendy didn’t have a single attack of road rage at all, we were soon cruising down the motorway to meet Chris & David.
Despite Wendy offering to share the back seat with me and Dan (or a rose between two thorns, as she kindly put it) David was a true gentleman, and offered her the front seat with Chris.
The journey up to South London was mainly spent discussing our hopes for the game ahead, not to mention that the cabbage patch at Aveley would work against Maidstone, as they played Hornchurch – but not even the crop circles at the Mill Field could stop the fellow Kent side winning 2-0.
On arrival at Champion Hill, after Chris had negotiated Sainsbury’s car park, both Wendy and I were lucky enough to get in as concessions – I knew my student card would be good for something!
I indulged in my usual pre-match geekery and took some pictures of the ground, a couple of which are included below –
All this before I was greeted by a friendly rugby tackle by Stu, not to mention catching up with the familiar faces of the Gate faithful – it was great to see Jake and Mark there in particular, as they led the singing in the second half. They were also joined by Ivesy, Sarah & Ivesy’s new beachball, which just so happens to have a rather artistic picture of Mickey Mouse on it!
Before kick-off, I had to apologise to Wendy, as it turned out that Inigo Echepare, Dulwich’s Spanish keeper, wasn’t playing – he was replaced by the friendly blonde chunk Phil Wilson – he still claims he’s 30!
As the game kicked off, Margate were playing some beautiful football, pinging the ball about almost at will, and showing why so many people have backed them to win this League – a good start was made even better, as Lewis Taylor curled a sublime effort past the despairing dive of Wilson – we even had time for a quick Poznan!
It must be said that Dulwich grew into the game, as time went on – our cause wasn’t halped by Lewis Taylor having to depart the field due to a facial injury – I felt this disrupted the rhythm of the team, somewhat.
Worse was to follow, as a hot-dog deprived Ivesy vented his frustration by tipping my rather stylish cap (ahem) onto the pitch – cue the tweet below!
As the half time whistle blew, Dulwich custodian Phil Wilson kindly handed me back my cap, as Dan and myself made our way to the other end of the pitch, indulging in some random Inbetweeners impressions on our way – well hey, it kept us entertained, anyway!
In truth, the second half seemed to go by with a bit of a blur – although this might still be the heartbreak talking, and I have no doubt that I’ll be re-telling this story on a therapists couch, in the distant future.
Dulwich continued where they’d left off in the first half, and snatched a deserved equaliser, when their player ghosted past a static Gate defence, who were left appealing for an offside flag that never came, and slotted the ball calmly past Nikki Bull.
Many of the Gate faithful weren’t impressed with the referee’s performance, and let him know in no uncertain terms – this later led to me having a rather odd dream that night about screaming at the referee for awarding Dulwich goal after goal for no reason at all, and I believe we were 705 goals down while Mark Sandwell and myself discussed these events while sitting on a bridge, in the middle of the pitch.
But I digress.
Stu and I were both praying for the final whistle, when in slow motion, this happened;
* A long, somewhat hopeful clearance upfield*
*An otherwise solid Charlie Wassmer letting the ball bounce, before a weak header back to Nikki Bull allowed the Dulwich striker to nip in*
*The Dulwich fans roar of delight, as their striker finished calmly*
*Margate having just enough time to kick off, before the ref blew his whistle – we had lost with the last kick of the game*
As the Dulwich players celebrated a touch too emphatically for my taste, especially as we’ve only just reached September (Although this might be me being a tad bitter!) I have vague memories of shuffling to the exit, passing our beaming ex-player Dean McDonald, and wishing him and a couple of Dulwich fans the best for the season, before I passed a pink & blue blur which made up ‘The Rabble’ (Dulwich’s most fanatical supporters)
Reality hit when we reached the sanctuary of Chris’ car, and the normally cheerful & chirpy occupants were utterly deflated – the silence was occasionally broken by a mournful sigh from one of us, and not even Dan’s good-natured attempts at lifting my mood helped – Dan, I can only apologise for sulking, mate!
Reading Facebook when I got in helped a little, and I managed to send a congratulatory tweet to the friendly Dulwich fan I met last season – and possibly the only football fan I know that has been banned from Kingstonian, for rubbing his nipples at one of their matchday stewards – he was in Budapest at the time, but I thought I should congratulate him all the same – stiff upper lip & all that!
While I have to credit the Dulwich fans (811 really is a superb attendance for a midweek game, not to mention the carnival atmosphere they created) it really was heartbreaking to lose the match with the last kick of the game.
In a way, I feel this could well be a blessing in disguise – if any of the Margate fans and players thought that winning the League was but a mere formality, think again – to say getting promotion won’t be easy is an understatement.
I can only echo the wise words of the MFC Beach Ball – with a game against Hornchurch at the weekend, before a Tuesday night home fixture against Witham Town (Olly Murs’ ex-club, no less!) it really is important that we pump ourselves up, ready again for our promotion push.
Up The Gate!
*Many thanks to Wendy Malkinson for her help with the Away Day Keeper Arse-O-Meter*
Wendy’s Away Day Keeper Arse-O-Meter
“He was a big lad, but had good banter and was friendly – 7 out of 10“
Monday 25th August 2014
—Lewes 1 Margate FC 5—
Firstly, I’d like to thank Terry Scott for her help with the latest blog title – with my mind and imagination slightly frazzled by a long day out and a celebratory kebab, she kindly stepped into the breach, & gave me some inspiration.
My Bank Holiday started in familiar fashion – meeting Dan Boyle at Broadstairs station, while silently hoping the game would still be on, owing to the rain in Sussex (and pretty much everywhere else – two Ryman Premier games were postponed yesterday – Kingstonian v VCD, and Met Police v Hampton & Richmond)
Compared to recent excursions, the journey up to Hartsdown Park was pretty uneventful, if truth be told – this mainly owed to us not carrying Gary Gator (Terry kindly offering to escort him) and me not mistaking any bibs on goalposts for Margator.
We were grateful to board the very executive-looking coach, and get in out of the rain – there was a brilliant turnout of fans on there, as the coach was pretty full – although credit to Terry for landing Gary Gator a seat – he had a better view than I did!
As we left at half 11, we were barely into our journey (although there was still time for Ted Pittman to do the football team scratchcard draw, and be accused of fixing it by the otherwise jolly chaps known as Luke, Brad, Justice & a guy who I only ever heard addressed as ‘The Major’ – all top blokes though) when disaster struck.
A loud bang was heard as we were leaving Thanet, which left many of us puzzled – my first guess was that either Rik Waller (or the slightly portly lady from TOWIE* that reminds me of Miss Piggy) had spontaneously combusted.
* Disclaimer – I don’t watch the aforementioned show*
Sadly, it turned out to be coach related – I’ve forgotten the details already, but I think it might’ve had something to do with a gasket.
Either way, the end result was that we had to spend some time at Farthing Corner services in Medway, while a replacement coach came to meet us.
This appeared in what seemed like no time at all, leading Luke & Brad to loudly wonder if it was being driven by The Stig, of Top Gear fame.
And so our journey continued, with Terry continuing to look for llamas, and Ted (allegedly) yet again fixing the scratchcard results.
In all the excitement, by not looking at my phone for a while, I had missed out on the thrilling adventures of Ivesy, Alex & Sarah, who were making the journey up by train – with a beach ball that Ivesy had purchased, seemingly on a whim.
Within no time at all, the beach ball had managed to commandeer Ivesy’s phone, and create itself a Twitter account – some of its adventures and meanderings are detailed below.
As the beach ball enjoyed a morning beer and meeting MFC Chairman Bob Laslett, we continued to make our way into Sussex – although time was sadly not on our side, and the weather appeared to be worsening outside, leading to speculation that we might miss the kick-off.
Thankfully this wasn’t the case, as we arrived at 2:45, at a rather wet Dripping Pan – home of Lewes FC.
Making our way down the rather steep terracing, Terry kindly entrusted me with looking after Gary Gator, while she took the chance to grab a well deserved beer and a burger.
Yet again, there was an incredible turn-out of Gate fans – by my estimate, I’d say between 80 and 90 hardy souls made the journey to Sussex – these included Stu, George & their respective dads – George’s dad Nik showed me his purchase of a drum, but sadly remarked that it didn’t come with drumsticks – however he improvised superbly with his umbrella!
Martin Parrish was also there with his family, and a mini version of Gary Gator, who definitely looked the business – there was even time for a couple of Gator selfies before kick-off!
As the teams came out, cheered on by the vociferous Gate faithful, before long we were underway.
It must be said that I don’t have fond memories of The Dripping Pan – purely because a nonsensical decision early on in this fixture last season reduced us to ten men, and we ended up losing 3-0.
Thankfullly, within five minutes, these memories were starting to be erased, as a clinical finish from goal machine Ryan Moss put us 1-0 up – sadly, this was cancelled out about five minutes later, as some slack defending allowed a Lewes Fellaini lookalike to equalise.
Despite the conditions, Gate were continuing to play their brand of stylish passing football, and we deservedly went 2-1 up, with Moss again on the scoresheet, after expertly flicking home Kane Wills’ well placed free kick.
Controversy was to follow after, as Lewes this time were reduced to ten men – their number 4 being perhaps harshly dismissed for a professional foul – the referee seemed to play advantage as Jason Prior managed to stay on his feet, but eventually pulled play back and sent the protesting defender off.
This only added to Margate’s domination (and obligatory chanting of ‘Super Bob’) at a cheerful and dapper Mr Laslett, although we couldn’t turn our possession and chances into goals, as the half-time whistle blew.
Nonetheless, it was a very happy Gate crowd that made their way to elsewhere in the stadium to watch the second half – most of the sensible Margate faithful took cover in the seated area, but exhilarated at being 2-1 up (that’s my excuse, anyway!) I made my way to the uncovered terrace behind the goal, with Terry, Gary and what ended up being a large number of hardy souls.
I must confess to being slightly worried about us throwing away our lead again, although Charlie Allen eased these fears, as he shot through a defenders legs past an unsighted, surly and short-sleeved Lewes custodian to put us 3-1 up.
By now, Ivesy reckoned, it was time to bring out the aforementioned beach ball.
Sadly, those who live hedonistic lifestyles seem to die by the sword (or in this case, the dog) as Finney mistook the ball for a tasty treat, and promptly deflated it with her teeth.
I decided to serenade our inflatable friend with a ditty of my own making, entitled ‘Viva The Beach Ball’ but this seemed a hollow gesture – nonetheless, the words are included below for your pleasure (or anguish!)
“Viva the Beach Ball
Viva the Beach Ball
It was Ivesy’s joy
But it got destroyed
Viva the Beach Ball”
(I’m available for weddings, birthdays & bar mitzvahs, should you need me!)
Fortunately, our midfielder Tom Phipp distracted the Gate fans from my singing with a superlative effort that flew into the top corner, to put Margate 4-1 up.
By now, although it continued to pour down, it didn’t dampen our spirits, with Ivesy, Nik, George & Stu dictating various tunes, accompanied by the drum – Brad, Luke et al were welcome accompaniments, as well as Terry’s patented Banshee Shriek!
The rest of the game seemed to finish at a canter – I even had time to point out some corporate beach huts to Terry (I’ve got to say, I like the way Lewes think!)
There was still time for Ryan Moss to crash in a superb strike, following a beautiful assist from Ivesy, to make it 5-1 for the second game in a row.
As the final whistle went, I felt confident enough to start rubbing my hands together and plan my roly-poly down one of the grass banks – an ambition which I had informed many people of – unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to do this due to health and safety reasons (although the Lewes chap did cast me a sympathetic look – I like to think he understood my disappointment!)
I was also foiled on another ambition, as the electronic scoreboard was promptly reset at full time – fortunately Don Walker came up trumps again, with another terrific photo!
After a brief sojourn in the bar for many of the Gate supporters, I was lucky enough to catch up with Gareth and Alan Anstice, as well as meet a couple of really friendly and good-natured Lewes fans – I wish them all the best for the season (apart from when they visit Hartsdown Park, of course!)
To say it was an elated and musical coach back would be an understatement – with Andy Payne leading chants of “We are top of the league, say we are top of the league!” (accompanied by a couple of the younger lads screeching “Say whaaaat?” as well as indulging in some toilet karaoke, it made for a cheerful journey back – and hearing that the unholy trinity of Maidstone, Dover & Ramsgate had all lost really did top it off – not to mention the gingerbread man that Terry kindly gave me!
I’d like to thank Terry & Andy Payne for helping Dan and I get back to Broadstairs, via cab – as well of course, the Margate Supporters Club & Bayliss Travel for an amazing day out, in the best of company.
Apart from providing Terry’s buttock & burger reviews, what else is there to say but…
Up The Gate!
Terry’s Away Day Keeper Arse-O-Meter
“I’d say about a 5, as he didn’t really have a huge amount of banter – what WAS with those sleeves?! 5 out of 10”
Terry’s Away Day Burger Review
“Burger was very tasty, and prepared with somewhat of a flourish – excellent cheese (might have been Emmental?) Salad was good, and the gherkin was a nice added touch – 9.5 out of 10”
Saturday 23rd August 2014
—Margate FC 5 Billericay Town 1—
To say that the last week has been a delight for Margate fans is probably the understatement of the century – I’m still smiling even now!
Margate put East Thurrock to the sword in midweek – a 3-1 victory in a game which literally had everything.
Nik Hayward introduced his airhorn and the Choir & Mini Shark Lads cheered on the team with everything they had – the highlight of the game was definitely Ryan Moss scoring his first two goals for the club – well deserved, down to the effort & work-rate that he puts in.
Sadly, Terry was still away in Cornwall for the midweek fixture, although she still made her presence felt by asking me to give the Choir a hug from her (I just settled for telling Mark Baker that she said hi – something tells me he’d be a bit bewildered if I randomly hugged him!) & also sent her congratulations to Ryan Moss on scoring his brace – he kindly sent his regards & said he’d try to score some more for her on Saturday – these words turned out to be very prophetic!
To round off other highlights of the East Thurrock game, great fun was had by all as the half-time music carried on into the second half, which gave a jazz-hall like feel to the match, and Jim Dow capturing this great image of Terry Brown in his post-match interview with Press Officer Ryan Day – is there any chance we can get this image on a flag or some t-shirts?
Moving on to yesterday’s game, and I felt this would be a very different contest from our game against East Thurrock – Billericay are definitely one of the Leagues more ‘physical’ sides, and I must admit to wondering if our passing game would have to be sacrificed – how wrong could I be?
The game also saw the return of Billericay manager Craig Edwards, & I fervently hoped that he hadn’t stumbled upon my blog post of last season, where I remarked that he looked like Emperor Ming…
We had someone even more prodigious to welcome back to Hartsdown Park, however – Terry & her son Arthur returned after a brief sojourn in Cornwall, and the ground was alive with her banshee-like shrieks yet again – as Terry Brown says, she really is Mrs Margate!
I’d made the journey up to Hartsdown Park by cab with Dan (and Gary Gator, who was stowed in the boot) – and we’d literally just got out of the cab when I was papped carrying Gary Gator by Club Safety Officer, Peter Cove (if any photos of me and Gary crop up on Facebook, I can assure you all that it’s not what it looks like!)
After dumping Gary in the corner of the bar, me and Dan were lucky enough to have a brief chat with Lewis Taylor and Ryan Moss, who were watching the Aston Villa / Newcastle game.
Displaying my lack of tact, I casually remarked that Newcastle’s defender Jack Colback looked very much like a ginger version of our very own Sam Rents – the two players burst into laughter, and informed me that they’d be texting him that! (Sorry Sam!)
I also enjoyed catching up with Beth Marshall, and listening to her hopes for her U13 side (good luck in their friendly against Betteshanger today) was a pleasure – Mel Williams & Larry Lemur arrived soon after, and they very kindly gave me an early birthday card & present, which is displayed below – it really meant the world!
After Terry, Arthur, Stu & the other usual suspects had arrived, Ivesy gleefully informed me that coach Simon Pridmore was taking on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge – a brilliant cause, and many of the first team squad followed suit – indeed, I think Ivesy has the joys of that to come himself (this might explain his look of happiness as he doused Pridders at half-time – enjoy it while you can, mate!)
I’m getting ahead of myself here – by the time this charitable cause happened, we were already three goals to the good – 3-0 up in twenty minutes really was the stuff of dreams!
Zac Attwood started this by curling in arguably the goal of the game, with Ryan Moss & Charlie Allen getting in on the act – all this, with some superb football played – Terry Brown’s style of passing football really is a joy to watch, and it had the crowd almost drooling with glee – to borrow a phrase about the Dutch international side of the 70’s, it definitely was total football!
Half-time mainly involved me walking about in a happy trance, which Ryan Day helped even more by wishing me an early birthday over the tannoy system – truly honoured!
While queuing for a burger with Arthur, I got chatting to a couple of Billericay fans, who were charm personified – even when our fourth goal went in.
It was a pleasure to meet them, and they fondly regaled us of the time when they won the League at Hartsdown Park – “Bit different now, though” said one of the chaps ruefully, as Ryan Moss netted his second of the game.
Unfortunately me & Arthur missed that goal, but we did see a contender for ‘Most Random Tattoo Ever’ as illustrated below – not sure who the guy was, but he must really like Marmite!
After picking up Arthur’s burger, we made our way over to the Coffin End, where most of the half involved talking to Billericay custodian Billy Lumley – I didn’t ask him if he was any relation to Joanna, although I was tempted! Billy’s questions involved the Accrington Stanley / Luton game, as his brother plays for the former.
For any interested (or confused) onlookers, this might explain why I was standing behind the goal yelling “Billy! 2-2!” for a short space of time.
Billericay did pull a goal back late on, with a well placed header from a corner, but credit to Margate, this stung them back into action, and after a Billericay defender had somehow cleared a thunderbolt of a shot from Lewis Taylor off the line with his face, Charlie Allen wrapped up a superb victory with an emphatic finish, late on.
It really was a brilliant day all round – and the attendance of 799 (can we count Gary or Larry to make the 800?) only added to the feel-good factor around the ground.
Our next game sees us make a Bank Holiday Monday journey to Lewes – and with the 53-seater coach virtually fully booked (hoping there’s room for Gary!) plus many more fans making their way up via train or car, it promises to be a brilliant turn-out from the Margate faithful once again – here’s hoping we can bring back another 3 points to the Kent coast.
Up The Gate!
Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter
Terry – “Keeper was a 6.5 on arse alone – add more for banter – seemed OK, but I was too far away second half! 7 out of 10”
Mel – “Goalie gets a 4 – quite miserable in 1st half, but quite funny him asking for the Accrington Stanley score! 4 out of 10”
Terry’s Pies Review (she was also kind enough to try the Chicken & Mushroom one, too)
“Pies were very good, with nice pastry and plenty of meat in both the Steak & Kidney and Chicken & Mushroom – objectively lovely pies! 8 out of 10”
Saturday 16th August 2014
—Harrow Borough 1 Margate FC 2—
I can appreciate that on first glance, this blog title might seem a bit odd (or possibly remind readers of that well known R.Kelly hit from the mid-90’s!) but I honestly felt that this title was also a fitting way to describe Margate’s two victories this week, leaving us second in the table, with maximum points from our first three games of the season.
For the game away at Grays Athletic (who are currently groundsharing with Aveley) I was lucky enough to be given a lift there by Wendy & Chris.
On the train journey to Whitstable, where I was due to meet Wendy & Finney, the main highlights were the over-enthusiastic British Transport Police surrounding a passenger who hadn’t paid for a ticket before he boarded the train, and the change of the weather from bright and sunny, to a torrential downpour, all in about five minutes!
Luckily for me, Wendy was there almost as soon as I got off the train, which prevented me from getting soaked! After picking up Finney, we carried on our journey to Medway services, where we met Chris.
After some brief banter about Wendy’s understanding of a sat-nav (which I won’t mention any more about, in case it gets me into trouble!) we were in Essex in remarkable time – so much so that Chris had time to pop to the nearest McDonalds to grab him & Wendy some dinner – he kindly asked if I wanted anything, but I had to decline due to a crippling toothache – thankfully it faded later on in the night.
On arrival at Aveley, it was great to see a superb turnout from the Gate faithful – my guesstimate was a good 50+ Margate fans who had made the journey up to Essex, many of these being the usual suspects!
I enjoyed catching up with Mel and her husband Steve, and it was particularly reassuring to see Larry Lemur there, being our lucky away day mascot – before long, he was sporting a Margate FC shirt, which Wendy had kindly made for him!
Not so reassuring was the state of the pitch – it really did resemble a cabbage patch (and had a few bumps / crop circles thrown in for good measure) which would make for an extra challenge for Margate – the state of the surface not being conducive to our fluent passing game.
The game started with Gate on the front foot, against a physical Grays side – luckily, our nerves were settled with about twenty minutes gone, as Charlie Allen seized on a poor clearance & hit a superb half volley over the giant Grays custodian (out of fascination, I later asked him how tall he was, to which he replied that he’d tell me at half time – as soon as the whistle went, he grinned at me & said “6’7!” before dashing off to the changing rooms)
With Anthony Riviere sadly having to limp off, Lewis Taylor filled in at right back and did an excellent job – Grays weren’t just there to make up the numbers though, Nikki Bull and our defence had to be on their toes to ward off the threats of Joe Benjamin, and the pacy Freddie Lapapo.
Gate had their chances as well, the main one involving the Grays goalie keeping his wits about him, as Sam Rents attempted to beat him at his near post, after some excellent build up play.
Half time came and went, and with Grays getting back into the match, it was with an enormous amount of relief that Gate went 2-0 up, with Sam Rents beating the keeper with a well placed free kick, that was curled into the bottom corner.
Although Grays applied some late pressure, the Gate defence (well marshalled by Jamie Stuart & Brett Johnson) held firm, to earn a ground out win on an incredibly bumpy pitch (I’m hoping the blog title makes more sense now!)
The journey home (with Mel and Steve offering to drop me back off in Broadstairs) was a quiet and satisfied one, save for the occasional bullfrog-like belch from Steve (which he blamed on his pre-match burger earlier) and the odd bit of serenading from Dan Boyle, who gleefully informed me that he’d be looking forward to watching Strictly Come Dancing this year, due to Frankie from The Saturdays being on it – some things never change!
Mel and Steve were also kind enough to provide the keeper’s backside and burger review respectively – the marks are below.
Mel’s Away Day Keeper Arse-O-Meter
“Not a bad arse, he had a bit of banter too – 6 out of 10”
Steve’s Away Day Burger Review
“Awful – all I could taste was the burger sauce! 0 out of 10”
And so to Saturday, and another away day – this time travelling up to London to play Harrow Borough. Meeting Dan at Broadstairs station and hearing how much he enjoyed the latest Interseptors gig was a pleasure – for my part, I regaled him with a YouTube clip of a guy that does possibly the best Shaggy impression I’ve ever heard – I’ll let you be the judge!
This kept us entertained up until we reached Tivoli Park – where I sadly suffered my first ‘blonde moment’ of the day – I still maintain that the large amount of green and orange bibs hanging on a goalpost looked like our new mascot Margator, from a long distance away…
Once aboard the fully boarded coach, I was lucky enough to have Mel & Larry for company for the second time in a week – unfortunately, she had to put up with my brand of humour for most of the journey, but she displayed the patience of a saint, and she also had Mark Sandwell and his lovely wife to distract her from my attempts at one-liners – a godsend when we were unfortunately stuck in traffic on the M25!
This led to a decline in communications, as a bout of selfie-taking swept the coach, the results of which can be seen below
We eventually got to the ground at half 2 – again, there was a great turn-out of Gate fans at the game – what with the 30 hardy souls who travelled up by coach (kindly organised by the Margate Supporters Club and Bayliss Travel) a fair few had made the journey up by car and train, as well.
It didn’t seem long at all before the game kicked off (with Tony Tipple cocking an ear and remarking that he could hear a Terry Scott-like yell of encouragement, all the way from Cornwall) and Margate started really well – as Gate coach Simon Pridmore later observed, it really was like Harrow were chasing shadows, for the first twenty minutes.
There were various breaks in play, while Tony Tipple & Chris Miles’ son kindly retrieved the ball for the Harrow custodian, as well as an unfortunate injury to Harrow left-back Danny Dyer (yes, that really was his name – although I originally thought that was their right backs name – thankfully, Alan Anstice made light of the situation by telling the eye-rolling defender that I’m rubbish with numbers!)
Gate took the lead midway through the first half – Luke Williams being crudely upended by a Harrow defender, and Charlie Allen decided to enjoy himself by telling the keeper that he doesn’t normally take our penalties, but his name was drawn out of the hat, to the amusement of the Margate fans!
Whether this was true or not, we’ll never know – thankfully Charlie slotted his penalty home to put Margate 1-0 up, before casting an apologetic look at the keeper and telling him “Well, everyone gets lucky sometimes, don’t they!” – a true legend.
Margate were creating chances almost at will, but we seemed a bit shot-shy, much to the general ire of Terry Brown. As the half-time whistle blew, I must admit to wondering if our profligacy in front of goal would come back to haunt us in the second half.
Sadly, this proved to be the case, as Simeon Akinola equalised with a curling left-foot effort, which gave Nikki Bull no chance.
Gate’s sense of urgency was apparent for the rest of the half, but a mixture of poor final balls and wasteful finishing looked like it would be our undoing – however, our performance deserved more than a point, and this was rewarded in the luckiest of ways, as a Kane Wills shot took the cruellest of deflections off the Harrow centre back – this wrong-footed the opposition keeper completely, as with a resigned look, he saw the ball trickle into the net, for what proved to be the winning goal.
They all count, and none more so than this one – as the final whistle blew, it was with a sense of relief that the travelling Gate fans (easily over 50 in number yet again) applauded the players off the pitch – Jamie Stuart’s galvanising yells were a great sight as well – the Margate skipper had been superb throughout, and was definitely my Man Of The Match.
Before our return journey, there was just enough time for me to suffer my second ‘blonde moment’ of the day – attempting to board the players’ coach by mistake and encountering a rather confused looking driver!
(Hey, if a chap with this physique can play for Luton Town in League Two, there’s hope for me yet!)
On boarding the correct coach this time, it was a happy and in some cases, sleepy journey back – the crowning glory of the day was Harvey Lockwood being a gentleman and driving Andy Payne & myself to Margate & Broadstairs respectively, but not before playing ‘Sexy Back’ by Justin Timberlake – he truly is a man of eclectic music tastes!
As ever, I was lucky enough to get both backside & burger reviews – this time from Mel & Dan respectively.
Mel’s Away Day Keeper Arse-O-Meter
“Too young for arse-rating, but he was very vocal, for such a young man! 5 out of 10 for his confidence”
Dan’s Away Day Burger Review
“The meat was good, the buns could’ve been better, but overall it was nice – 7 out of 10”
I realise that this has been quite possibly the longest of rambles, but I’d like to finish by recording my thanks to the MSC Committee, who kindly invited me to their meeting last Thursday – it was thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to helping them and the club in any way I can.
With that said, the Committee have come up with an excellent idea to attract younger fans along to away games (Mini Shark Lads, I’m looking at you – it’d be great to have the Hartsdown Park atmosphere at away games too!)
The offer is detailed below, and I urge our younger supporters to take advantage of it – it really is a great price for a brilliant day out in the best of company – this before watching our beloved Margate FC take on teams at different grounds!
With two home games against Essex opposition in East Thurrock United and Billericay next week, before a Bank Holiday Monday trip to Lewes, here’s hoping that Margate can keep up their superb start to the season, with the more support, the better.
Up The Gate!
Saturday 9th August 2014
—Margate FC 1 Hampton & Richmond 0—
Yesterday really was a day to remember, for various reasons.
My morning consisted of going to Terry’s for some ‘mascot maintenance’ on Gary Gator – due to Terry’s DIY knowledge, I’m pleased to announce that Gary’s spine & head are a lot sturdier now, owing to the expert placing of metal pipes.
I was also lucky enough to be given a loom band in Margate away colours by Terry’s son Arthur – as with the home one he kindly made me, I’ll definitely be wearing it with pride throughout the season.
As Terry, Arthur & I made our way up to the ground on a beautiful sunny day – perfect footballing conditions – we felt we brought sunshine to other people’s lives too – the looks Terry received while carrying Gary Gator to the ground were definitely amusing, and a lot of people seemed to appreciate our mascot!
We arrived at Hartsdown Park, just in time to see the away team’s coach encountering some slight parking problems, but eventually these were rectified.
As ever, I bought a matchday programme, which really is an amazing read this year – I particularly enjoyed Bob Laslett’s column, as well as the story of Margator & Alice Gator – who knew a mascot could be so romantic!
Seeing Dave Miles & Poppy amongst others, is always a pleasure – Poppy was kind enough to offer to make my new-born son Liam a quilt, and Rick Simmons gave me the first handshake & congratulations of the day – without wanting to harp on too much, thanks again to everyone for their kind words, and thanks to Sarah and Ivesy for their card & present as well – I feel very lucky to know so many genuinely nice people.
Some traditions were broken, before the game – we now have nets up, to protect people from getting hit by any wayward shots (I’d have to agree with Beth’s observation – it felt odd not having to shout “Heads!” if any shots went astray!) and Pridders took over Dan Boyle’s mantle as ladies man (for one game at least) by having his photo taken with the Hampton & Richmond physio – I feel this will turn into a long and good-humoured competition, over the season!
My pre-match preparations mainly included talking to Beth about Scotland (always nice to have something in common!) receiving lots of kind words, congratulations & handshakes from all the people I’m lucky enough to know at MFC (too many to name!) and catching up with some Hampton supporting friends I met last season – it was a pleasure to see Alec & his dad again, & I wish Hampton all the best for the rest of the season (except when Margate play them at The Beveree in November!)
The terraces were packed, the MFC flag & Gary Gator were positioned for action, not to mention Larry Lemur, who looked excited for the season ahead, along with Mel, her husband Steve, & his son – but sadly, there were no Mini Shark Lads, which put paid to the singing side of things, although Stu, some lads in front of us (whose names I didn’t catch, but they were top guys) & myself gave it a decent go.
Apparently the Mini Shark Lads have all landed Saturday jobs, which is great for them, but not so great for the singing side of things – hopefully The Choir will be back sooner, rather than later!
As the team lineups were announced, & the sides took the field to ‘Let Me Entertain You’ by Robbie Williams – a great choice – the 2014 / 2015 season was underway.
In truth, there was a little bit of rustiness about both teams, although Margate’s fluent passing play was a joy to watch – while Nikki Bull was relatively untroubled in the Margate goal, the new Hampton keeper (who wasn’t their usual number one – the always-smiling Rodney Chiweshe) made various decent stops from Messrs Prior, Stuart, Rents & Allen.
Hampton were proving a tough nut to crack, their defence seeming to block everything thrown at it, and the only other noticeable moments of the goalless first half was the general ineptitude of the referee, and one of the assistant referees, who bore a striking resemblance to Chesney from Coronation Street (Well, that was the gist of what I yelled at him in a moment of frustration, anyway)
As the halftime whistle went, I trooped down to the newly all-seated Coffin End, where a couple of youngsters insisted on giving Gary Gator a personal escort, bless them!
Terry, Tony & Frankie were soon on hand to give Gary his own personal seat, and he was in esteemed company, as he had Terry’s mum & Frankie for company (although his street cred was diminished somewhat, with me sitting next to him!)
Frankie managed to refrain from regaling Gary with his famous jokes, which was a brilliant achievement – sadly it meant I missed out on hearing any new material!
Gate continued their waves of attacks in the second half, in between Hampton having a couple of free kicks in dangerous positions & corners happily going to waste (despite their introduction of last season’s Golden Boot winner, Charlie Moone ) – but as the game went on, nothing, it seemed, would give Margate their breakthrough – the referee contriving to miss what appeared to be an obvious penalty, as Ryan Moss was sent tumbling in the box.
Cometh the 77th minute, cometh the man – step forward Mr Anthony Riviere.
His performance at right back had yet again, been superb, earning him a well deserved Man Of The Match award – and it was from his cross that Lewis Taylor headed the winner, with a little over ten minutes to go.
Glee & relief were the words of the day, which could definitely be seen in the players’ celebrations, thanks to a great photo from Tony!
As Ryan Day announced the official attendance – a brilliant turn-out of 727 (which Neil Wyatt later pointed out, was better than any of the attendances in the Conference South) the ref seemed to add on an incredible amount of injury-time – although clearly my nerves had got the better of me by then, as Frankie informed me that the man in black had only added on three extra minutes!
Thankfully, Margate saw out the rest of the game in composed fashion, and the final whistle was greeted with a loud cheer by the Gate faithful.
The players really had put a shift in, & as they came over to acknowledge the crowd, their efforts were met with a round of applause – a well deserved victory, and I felt that Margate had shown great patience & persistence to get the season off to a winning start.
After a brief sojourn to congratulate the players & catch up with Dan, I happily made my way back to Margate station, with Frankie & his son Tom joining me for part of the way.
Needless to say, various questions were fired at me from people who saw a short, chubby lad toting a giant plush Gator on his back – these ranged from “Is that a dragon?” to “Alright mate, what the f**k is that?!”
With those cultured words, I think it’s definitely safe to say that the football season is here again!
Terry’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter
“No banter… 4 out of 10”
Terry’s Steak & Kidney Pie Review
“Nice pastry, could have done with a little more gravy – when are the Chicken & Mushroom ones available? 7 out of 10“
Saturday 2nd August 2014
—Ramsgate 1 Margate FC 3—
I’ve got to say how much I enjoy living in Thanet. On a sunny Saturday morning, people here must be spoilt for choice in terms of what to do – a leisurely stroll down to the nearest beach, having a cup of tea & taking in the sights of the promenade – or in my case, travelling to Terry’s to help put some goalkeeper gloves on her mascot masterpiece – Gary Gator.
I’m proud to announce that due to Terry’s hard work, perseverance, & prodigious skill in putting Gary together, we’re bucking the trend by having a non-inflatable mascot for the coming season.
As Terry & myself made our way to Margate station, Terry showed me that there was an art to carrying Gary – which basically consists of piggybacking the gator, as you would a small child.
The expressions from passing motorists were a joy to behold, and various people (including several young children) all seemed genuinely interested in Gary’s origins – Terry was only too delighted to explain how he came about!
Before long, us ‘estuary side’ dwellers were on the train to ‘the beautiful south-side of the island’ as stated on Ramsgate’s match preview & subsequent report.
It has to be said that we enjoyed the short train journey, although none more so than Gary, who was happy to pose for a picture with his beaming creator.
Stifling our sniggers at how real Gary looked sat on the seat (we lost count of the amount of times we were asked if there was an actual person inside there) we then made our way out of the station, before making the short walk to Southwood.
Unbeknown to us, the Thanet Cup was also enjoying a good journey, while being well supervised by Ivesy.
This journey is documented below, and is a bittersweet tale of lost love, hardship & triumph in the face of adversity (well, maybe not, but it’s still worth a look – Ivesy really is a legend!)
On our arrival at Southwood (or Deadwood, as it’s popularly & accurately known!) Gary immediately encountered various Gate fans, who were enjoying a drink outside the Ramsgate bar – Harvey, Andy Payne, Ivesy, Stu, Beth & her boys being amongst the admiring crowd.
As I was wilting in the heat (I’m not sure how, as Terry was kind enough to insist on carrying Gary on the way up to Southwood!) Ivesy & Stu decided to take him under their wing – rather predictably, this is what happened.
A source of consternation amongst many Gate fans (well, mainly Stu) was the £9 entrance fee – understandable really, as Ramsgate had charged £5 for their previous friendlies.
In my second criminal act of the day (having already bunked the train to Ramsgate – a true rebel without a cause!) I adopted my meekest voice & asked the chap at the turnstiles for a concession ticket – no questions asked, and a £5 entry! It might’ve helped looking like a Backstreet Boy, as Ivesy later pointed out.
Buying a programme & making my way to the covered area for some shade, I was lucky enough to catch up with Dan, the sun bringing out his blonde highlights, as well as Steve & Grant.
A little while later, many other Gate fans walked into the ground, Gary Gator looking blearily around while being supported by Terry, and muttering “Do you know who I am?” as well as “You looking at my wife?” – I don’t think he handled his beer particularly well!
Luckily, Ivesy defused the situation by proudly showing us his beach ball, which was to prove incredibly useful throughout the game, as the players took their drink breaks.
Before long, the players walked out – (Margate fresh from a superb 2-1 win over Conference side Barnet in mid-week) sadly, the rather portly Ramsgate keeper was on the bench, having injured his back – so the Rams fielded Nick Shaw – an ex-Whitstable player, as Alan informed me.
As soon as the game started, you could tell Ramsgate were out of their depth – Margate deploying a superb brand of quick-moving, passing football, with the odd bit of skill thrown in as well.
I’m not the best at goal analysis, so I was very lucky that David Pittman had recorded them – without wanting to spoil anyone’s enjoyment, the videos speak for themselves.
Margate found themselves 3-0 up in half an hour – the goals being scored by Luke Williams, Luke Moore & a thunderbolt of a strike from Lewis Taylor – which happened as the Gate faithful were serenading chairman Bob Laslett with a by now traditional chorus of ‘Super Bob’ – to say he was happy at the third goal was an understatement!
*All credit to David Pittman for the videos of the Margate goals – he also captured the Super Bob chant in all its glory!*
As the first half wound down, much fun was had by the Gate faithful, whether it was greeting each Margate pass with ‘Ole’ or enjoying some beach ball related fun – which also enjoyed the ‘Ole’ treatment!
Sadly, our fun was curtailed briefly near half-time, as the beach ball went onto the pitch – stopping short of a Darren Bent-related incident, it merely consoled itself with a view from behind the goal.
As a brief chant of ‘Martin, Martin get the ball’ arose, I decided to oblige – unfortunately, my lack of athleticism was exposed, as I didn’t quite manage to vault the barrier!
An elderly steward took pity on my plight though, and handed us back the beach ball as the half time whistle blew.
Terry and myself then carried Gary Gator over to the other end of the pitch, before I realised that we hadn’t put our flag up! Luckily, Terry was kind enough to help, (Gary gazing at me with a malevolent look in his eyes)
In truth, the second half was a bit of a non-event, with Margate enjoying the luxury of being able to knock the ball about and relax for the remainder of the half.
Naturally, this led on to more beach ball kicking antics, before a young chap with a terrific left foot on him (no, not me) accidentally kicked the ball over the fence into a neighbouring garden.
Sadly, the days of knocking at someone’s door & enquiring “Could we have our ball back please?” are long gone, so a friend of Stu’s managed to hop over the fence & retrieve the beach ball.
In the ball’s absence, I fell victim to Ivesy’s paparazzi skills, which might explain why this photo is currently circulating on Facebook.
In fairness to Ivesy, who might’ve been slightly hammered by this point (although not to the extent of Gary Gator, who spent the second half slumped in a drunken stupor) he made an observation that I could well be a fashionista, which I genuinely appreciated!
Ramsgate did pull a goal back towards the end of the game, but Margate held on for the win more than comfortably, to retain the Thanet Cup.
The celebrations continued in the Ramsgate bar, as Ryan Day took this superb picture of chairman Bob Laslett holding the Thanet Cup along with some Gate fans, Dan Boyle & Ivesy’s Beach Ball being amongst them! (shame on the chap attempting to set the beach ball alight – bit harsh!)
In my last blog, I unfortunately let Sarah Egan down, in terms of the Burger Review – I can only apologise for my goldfish memory!
Luckily enough though, on being reminded by Ivesy, we were able to track down Dan Boyle & ask for his opinion on the new-look burgers that are being rustled up at Hartsdown Park this season.
Dan closed his eyes for a moment, in fond remembrance of the burger, and upon re-opening them, he said “It was amazing. Much, much better than last season – a definite 9 out of 10”
Again, I can only offer my apologies to Sarah – Ivesy & Dan really saved the day, there! (Not to mention the beach ball!)
With so many different foodstuffs on the menu at Hartsdown Park these days, it’d be a crime not to review them all – I’m hoping to have some help with this – the Chicken Balti slices look well worth trying, for starters!
Margate’s Ryman League campaign kicks off next Saturday against Hampton & Richmond – here’s hoping for a flying start & a great season ahead.
I’m sure there’ll be some ups & downs – as there is in any football season, but as long as we all take the good with the bad & keep our feet on the ground, I feel confident that it’ll be a successful campaign.
So win or lose, let’s get behind the team, and cheer Margate FC onto greater things.
Up The Gate!
Friday 25th July 2014
—Margate FC 5 Wolves 1—
After a hard-fought 3-2 victory at the Fullicks Stadium against Folkestone (highlights included a 30 yard thunderbolt from striker Luke Moore, and Ivesy asking if I was in a boy band – not to mention suggesting the blog title ‘Beer, Burgers & Backstreet Boys’)
Margate’s attentions turned to a glamorous Friday night fixture against Championship side Wolves.
Although the Midlands side bought down what amounted to their U21 team, I feel it’s worth mentioning that after glancing at the programme (another terrific read – thanks again to Jake Boyd, Gareth Anstice & Ryan Day!) that two of the players that lined up against us were ex-Barcelona youth players, and there was a youth player signed from Chelsea in the Wolves ranks as well – by no means an easy test for the Blues.
Walking up to the stadium in sweltering conditions is always a great way to start an evening – thankfully I had time to cool down & to chat to a young fan that was attending his first game at Hartsdown Park – I’m sure he enjoyed it!
After buying a programme, my next port of call was the club shop, where in an unusual display, I thought I’d treat myself to the new shirts for the season ahead – I really couldn’t resist the away shirt!
I bought both shirts in size L, only to discover that the home shirt was slim-fitting (and rather accentuated my portly figure) while the away shirt was loose-fitting, and made me look like I was wearing an American Football top, of some description.
Thankfully, the mother & daughter combo who work in the club shop (Sadly, I’ve not caught their names yet) were really helpful – I ended up with the right sizes in the end, and they honestly couldn’t have been more patient with me.
After that, I spent some time in the bar catching up with the usual suspects – Dan, who’d bought his grandad to the game, Stu, who was accompanied by both his dad & Shannon, & Mel, who had her husband Steve & Larry Lemur in tow – all this before Terry & Arthur turned up, too!
I was lucky enough to enjoy catching up with Rick as well – unfortunately I’d bought my dodgy cap yet again (it’s just to keep the sun off my head, honest!) but he was kind enough to pretend not to notice.
Before long, the ground was packed out – at the new-look Coffin End, a dapper cricket hat wearing Ivesy planted some mini blue & white chequered flags, to add to the general ambience!
The atmosphere really was amazing, and Margate couldn’t have given the 1,000+ crowd a better start, Jason Prior putting us 1-0 up within 30 seconds – sadly most fans (including myself) missed the goal due to the mad dash to the Coffin End, but luckily Dave Cocozza (no relation to X-Factor lothario Frankie, I’m told) had captured the goals in all their glory – it really was a composed finish by Jason, and it was great to see him get on the scoresheet.
Better still was to come, as some relentless Gate pressure saw us go 2-0 up, with Ryan Moss notching a well-taken header. Some of the football we were playing really was superb – a fast-paced passing game that was a joy to watch – even more so after Lewis Taylor added to his midweek goal against Folkestone – putting Gate three to the good after the young Wolves keeper could only parry a Ryan Moss shot into his path.
Wolves did pull a goal back just before half-time, Nikki Bull pulling off a superb save, only to see the rebound slotted in by one of the Wolves strikers – but as the half-time whistle blew, there were smiles all around Hartsdown Park (with the exception of the opposition keeper, who clearly didn’t appreciate my yell of “You’re pink, aggh!” – a reference to his rather garish keeper’s kit – as he took a goalkick earlier in the half)
With a melee of half time substitutions (Charlie Allen, who bowed to Anthony Riviere before giving the ball to him for a throw-in, in the first half being amongst them) Gate continued where they left off – constantly harrying the Wolves side & showing some superb attacking play.
This led to a penalty after a scorcher of a shot from Luke Williams rattled the bar, and one of the Wolves players tried to stop Zac Attwood heading in the rebound by parrying the ball away with his hand.
The aforementioned Allen stepped up, and blasted the ball past the helpless Wolves custodian to make it 4-1 to Margate.
In truth, the atmosphere by this point was like nothing I’d ever heard before – The Choir & Mini Shark Lads were belting out various Gate-related anthems with gusto, joined enthusiastically by stalwart fans such as Andy Payne & Chris Miles, to name just a couple!
(All credit to James Anderson / Thomas Brown / The Isle Of Thanet Gazette for the video clip below)
Zac Attwood rounded off the night in style, by curling the ball round the keeper after a mazy run to make it 5-1.
As the final whistle went, the Margate faithful serenaded the players & management – chairman Bob Laslett got a chorus of ‘Super Bob’ in both halves – & the Gate fans appreciation of the players effort & performance – which was well reciprocated by the players, as they applauded the crowd – just added to the feel good factor that is present amongst the club.
A fair few fans stayed behind in the bar to savour the night that little bit longer – it really had been a success both on & off the field – with the travelling Wolves fans being friendly & good humoured, not to mention the efforts of Sarah Egan & her staff being superb throughout the night – it truly is an honour to be a fan of such a friendly, well-run club.
Exciting times still lie ahead, as Margate take on Conference Premier side Barnet at Hartsdown Park tomorrow night, before defending the Thanet Cup against local rivals Ramsgate, at Southwood.
After those games have been & gone, we move on to the start of what looks to be a promising season!
Up The Gate!
*Match Highlights are below – all credit to Ryan Day / Dave Cocozza / Gate Player*
Saturday 19th July 2014
—Dover Athletic 1 Margate FC 0—
After the superb performance & victory over AFC Wimbledon, chairman Bob Laslett was kind enough to pay for a coach to take the Margate faithful to the next friendly, which saw Gate pit their wits against long-time rivals Dover Athletic, who were recently promoted to the Conference Premier after winning their all-Kent affair against Ebbsfleet United in the playoff final.
In regards to our own season, the Ryman League fixtures were released last Thursday – in a reversal of last season, our opening game sees us play Hampton & Richmond once again – except this time we start off at Hartsdown Park, rather than the Beveree.
To my immense relief & satisfaction, we escaped the joys of visiting Maidstone over the Christmas period – with an away game at Tonbridge Angels and a home fixture against Lewes to see in the New Year.
Our last game of the season pits us against Bognor at Nyewood Lane, and here’s hoping it’ll be a celebratory weekender! Even if it isn’t, I’m sure the travelling Gate fans will have a brilliant time regardless.
My Saturday morning consisted of making my way to Terry’s, in order to help her with the new mascot, that will no doubt be attracting some strange looks next season!
On a serious note though, I’d like to thank Terry for all her help with the aforementioned mascot, and her son Arthur, who was kind enough to give me a blue & white loom bracelet (Margate colours!) that I’ll be proudly be wearing this season.
With a lot of speculation about the weather (thunderstorms & torrential rain were a possibility) I can only say that we were fortunate to escape all that – it was truly a sweltering day, as we made our way to Hartsdown Park.
There was a brilliant turn out of fans for the coach – well over 40 people, & with others making their way up by car, I later found out via the Margate website that over 100 Gate fans attended the game – a superb effort by all involved.
Getting onto the coach, it really did feel like a class above – it even had air con too, which was definitely welcome in the heat of the day! After the essential business had been dealt with (Stu & Terry helping to put the MFC flag on the coach window) we settled down for the relatively short journey to Crabble.
I was lucky enough to sit next to Jake, who I really enjoyed catching up with – although sadly he was corrupted mid-journey by Terry, who informed him about the Llama Song incident of last season, which the terrible two decided to torment me with for the remainder of the trip.
Terry was also kind enough to point out various livestock in the fields en route, which thankfully didn’t include any llamas!
As we approached Dover, Stu took over my mantle of ‘Father Dougal’ for the day, by trying to guess international registration plates on vehicles – how he ended up guessing that one lorry was from New Zealand was beyond me, but it definitely left everyone amused!
On arrival at Dover, we had the joys of walking up a giant hill – we did contemplate ‘borrowing’ a golf buggy to aid our progress, but sadly, these plans didn’t come to fruition.
As we walked into the ground, there seemed like a sparse attendance of Dover fans – occasionally we’d see a confused looking chap wearing a bright pink Dover away shirt, but for the most part, the ground seemed pretty empty – I have to say that Margate did themselves proud with the amount of fans that made the trip though!
We were lucky enough to have the delightful Ivesy asking if we enjoyed our trip on the coach, and if there was any window licking involved – although a golden moment was soon to follow shortly after, as Arthur enquired if the SW on Winkle’s training kit stood for ‘Super Winkle’ – a question Winkle looked pretty chuffed about!
Looking at Twitter, Margate had named quite a strong squad, even though we were slightly under-strength (missing our first choice full-backs, as well as a few other players, including the prolific Ryan Moss)
Dover named a strong lineup as well, and before long, we were underway.
Margate started like a team on a mission, it must be said – our crisp passing & movement leaving the Dover side chasing shadows for the most part – the Conference side seeming content to soak up the pressure & hoof the ball upfield.
Anthony Riviere – who was filling in at right back – was hustling & harrying the Dover attack, and there were a lot of times when our attacking play forced Dover into various errors.
The only thing I felt we were lacking was in the final third – we didn’t really test their keeper enough, and although Nikki Bull had to tip over a dangerous header just before half time, I think it’s fair to say that Margate were much the better of the two sides – this being shown by the generous applause the players received from the Gate fans as they made their way into the changing rooms at the break.
As we made our way to the slightly more shaded area of the ground, I was lucky enough to have Beth help me with the MFC flag positioning, before Tom decided to run through the flag, in a style befitting of the bull / matador scenarios in Spain! He soon tired of this however, and settled for nicking my cap from my head & making a dash along the terraces, which left everyone in hysterics!
As the second half went by, a draw really would have been a fair result – although Dover did look slightly more menacing, once they had brought some fresh subs on – in turn, Margate gave run-outs to trialists Omari Patrick (who, we decided for some unknown reason, was of Irish persuasion) and a chap called Steff Hayles, who could’ve been a long-lost relation to ex-Fulham striker Barry – who knows?
Bob Laslett also found his way to the Gate fans for the second half, and politely declined another serenade of ‘Super Bob’ – beaming from ear to ear, and stating that we were only allowed to do that if we were winning – I have to say that’s a fair point!
Our ex-manager Chris Kinnear, dressed for a holiday in the Seychelles (on the sea shore), didn’t seem too impressed by his sides display, although they did score with a header, late on – this sparked the Dover fans into life (in truth, we’d forgotten they’d existed) and prompted their defence into a bit of time-wasting before the final whistle blew.
It might sound cliched, but in truth, our performance was something to be really proud of – it can only bode well for the season ahead, making a Conference side look ordinary after comfortably seeing off a League Two side – and no-one was prouder than Frankie’s son Tom, who threw caution to the wind & staged a one-man pitch invasion!
Beth’s son managed to rescue him just before he reached the halfway line, and it definitely bought a smile to all our faces, as we trooped out of the ground and back down the hill.
Despite the result, it was a really cheerful journey back to Thanet, despite our necks aching slightly due to Dover’s style of play (hence the title of this blog – many thanks to Beth Marshall for her suggestion!) – highlights included hearing an array of Frankie’s cheesy jokes that I’m hoping to use for future reference, having my slightly melted packet of Revels devoured by the back seat brigade (although thoughtfully, they did save me the last one!) and Stu corrupting Tom into giving Frankie a slap in the mouth – all this before Katie’s daughter decided to twirl a pair of knickers around!
All in all, it was a great day out, and thanks must go to Bob Laslett & Alistair Bayliss for their generosity & hospitality – it really was gratefully received – again, many thanks to them both.
Our next game takes us to Folkestone’s Fullicks Stadium tomorrow night, before facing Wolves at Hartsdown Park this Friday, in another evening kick-off. Times couldn’t get any more exciting!
Tickets for the Wolves game are still available online, so if you’ve not yet made the pilgrimage to Hartsdown Park to watch the new-look Margate FC in action, I really do recommend getting involved, in what is an exciting time for the club & Margate in general. With tickets ranging from £8 for adults, £5 for concessions, & £3 for children under 18, the prices really are a bargain too.
I’m already looking forward to another exciting week, and it’s still only pre-season!
Here’s hoping for a successful season ahead.
Up The Gate!
*As always, I’ll be ending this blog with Terry & Mel’s Keeper Arse-O-Meter, and the delights of Mel’s Burger & Chips Review as well*
Terry & Mel’s Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Just a 6 – nothing special, & too far away for any banter. 6 out of 10”
Mel’s Burger & Chips Review –
“Not a bad burger – 6 out of 10 – the chips were definitely better though, so they get an 8 out of 10”
NB: Ted Pittman also reviewed a Cornish Pasty – which sadly lost points due to it containing carrots.
Saturday 12th July 2014
—Margate FC 3 AFC Wimbledon 0—
Last Friday, there was an exciting Fans Forum – in which chairman Bob Laslett treated us to a presentation of what changes he had made & what ones would continue to work on – new seating was mentioned, along with various other ground improvements, ranging from changes to the car park and the club shop.
This was swiftly followed by manager Terry Brown informing the fans about Margate’s latest signings, and his outlook for the season ahead.
He pulled no punches, and while I feel we should remain grounded, it really does promise to be an exciting time for Margate Football Club.
Luckily we didn’t have too long to wait to see football back at Hartsdown Park, with League Two side AFC Wimbledon the opposition, in Margate’s first home pre-season friendly.
With both Terry Brown & assistant manager Stuart Cash having an illustrious history with our opponents, as well as our current squad containing a fair number of ex-Dons, I think it’s fair to say that our fans were looking forward to this fixture with some relish.
Indeed, there was a palpable air of excitement as soon as I entered the bar, where stalwart fan Dan Boyle was sat with a huge grin on his face – although it was hard to tell if it was due to the match, or AFC Wimbledon’s physio turning out to be a rather attractive blonde!
In all seriousness, it was great to catch up with Dan & other fans such as Harvey, Dave Miles & Keith Lewis, not to mention Stu, who attended with his girlfriend Shannon & his dad, whom it was a pleasure to meet.
Shannon didn’t seem to approve of my cap sadly, and her point was later driven home by an ever cheerful Rick, who gave me a big smile and enquired “What the hell is that on your head?”
Safe to say I’ll be leaving it at home next time round!
I wandered down to pick up the fantastic new-look programme & take a glance at the club shop – it’s fair to say my jaw dropped open in amazement (I vaguely remember picking it up again some time after the game ended)
The amount of Margate merchandise was truly astonishing, from new polo shirts, combined home & away scarves, mugs, hoodies.. it’d be impossible to do the shop justice in print, but needless to say it’s worth checking out – truly a MFC treasure trove!
I was under orders from Press Officer Ryan Day to not leave without spending at least £500, but owing to finance issues (which mainly involved not having that amount of money in my wallet) I settled for treating myself to a new scarf & polo shirt.
The friendly young lady behind the counter told me that the new replica shirts were likely to be in within a week or two – so even more to look forward to there!
Rick & Harvey both popped in as well, Rick kindly handing me a leaflet in regards to away travel next season.
I’ll let the picture speak for itself, but it really is a bargain – I hope the Mini Shark Lads in particular take advantage of this great offer, as they once again did themselves proud in cheering the team on yesterday, and it’d be great if the lads could make it to some away games as well.
Harvey also came bearing a gift, as we looked at old MFC programmes, he kindly gave me a copy of ‘Blues News’ which was a superb matchday magazine put together by the members of MISA (or MSC, as they are now known)
It might not be my place to say, but if that was to get going again, I know our supporters would be very lucky – I particularly enjoyed reading the interviews with a quartet of players Margate had at the time (these being Aaron Beech, Dan Young, Lloyd Blackman & Sam Cliff) as well as the light-hearted jokes & famous player quotes section of the magazine.
As various other familiar faces flooded into the ground, it was almost like coming home, in a way – I can only apologise if that sounds a bit corny or sentimental!
Wimbledon had brought a good number of fans down, and the attendance of 747 was a very impressive one.
Time does seem to fly before Margate games, and yesterday was no exception – there was just enough time to catch up with Mel and her husband Steve (not to mention Larry Lemur!) before George accidentally copped a football full in the face, and to see the introduction of our two new mascots, Margator & Alice Gator (I’d like to point out that these two incidents were in no way related) before we made our customary dash to the new & improved Coffin End, as Margate kicked off.
For a temporary stand, I was really impressed by the new seating – although it did seem to put us off singing, for some unknown reason! In the words of Stu, “You can’t sing sitting down” although I’d have to disagree with him there – I’m sure we’ll get used to it!
With so much going on off the pitch, the game was a welcome return to reality – Margate fielded a strong lineup (although we were without Luke Williams & Jack Bennett)
Wimbledon also fielded a strong side – you know your defence is in for a tough time when they’re facing the likes of Adebayo Akinfenwa (or ‘Beast’ as he likes to be known!) Charlie, who was sitting in front of me & looking remarkably like Joey Essex with his latest hairstyle, observed that Akinfenwa was a one-man wall – I honestly couldn’t disagree with him there!
Despite the obvious disadvantage of facing a side three rungs above them in the football pyramid, Margate took the game to Wimbledon, with Ryan Moss & Jason Prior toiling well together up front.
At the back, Charlie Wassmer & Brett Johnson looked resolute, and with both Charlie Allen & Kane Wills pulling the strings in midfield, I was very impressed with our playing style.
With half an hour gone, Gate’s mecurial right back Mitchell Nelson fell awkwardly and had to be stretchered off – his replacement, Adam Cash, filled in admirably though.
Margate continued to dominate possession, and deservedly took the lead, when a cross-cum-shot from Sam Rents evaded the diving Dons custodian – my first impression was that Sam definitely went for goal – I didn’t get the chance to ask him after the game, sadly!
On the stroke of half-time, Gate went two up, with Brett Johnson seizing on some hesitancy in the Dons defence to slot home.
As the half time whistle blew, I think it’s fair to say that we were all a bit shell-shocked (and impressed!) by the performance & scoreline – as Andy Payne said after the game, it was definitely the boys in blue & white who were looking very much the League Two side!
Both sides made changes at the break, with young keeper Tommy Beadle replacing Nikki Bull, with Jamie Stuart & Tom Phipp also coming on, to replace Brett Johnson & Jason Prior respectively.
Cultured midfielder Phipp had an almost immediate impact, as his slide-rule pass put Luke Moore through – after waltzing past the Wimbledon defence, he calmly finished to make it 3-0 to the Gate, and to put the home fans in dreamland (no pun intended!)
In truth, Wimbledon had the better of the second 45, and Tommy Beadle did well to repel the shots that were coming his way – he fully deserved his clean sheet – and there was also time for young prospect Joshua ‘JJ’ Donnelly to come on & show some excellent aerial ability, cheered on by the Choir & Mini Shark lads, who definitely found their voices in the second half!
We also found time to serenade chairman Bob Laslett, who looked as pleased as punch with Margate’s performance, and in time-honoured fashion, we also serenaded Larry Lemur.
Before long, the final whistle blew to end what was an incredible performance by Margate – a well deserved victory, and although it’s only pre-season, I feel the squad have given the Gate faithful much to look forward to, for the season ahead.
The Ryman League fixtures come out on Monday, and it’ll be interesting to see who we line up against first – not to mention who we play over the Christmas & New Year period.
As for myself, I’ll definitely be checking to see when we have Bognor Regis Town away – really hoping for another weekender there!
I’d like to finish off this blog by mentioning Terry – her sponsor lounge hoodoo was broken in the most spectacular of fashions, and we could still hear her dulcet tones from the Coffin End!
In Terry’s absence, Mel graciously took over the Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter; with Wimbledon changing their goalie at halftime, it was truly “An arse of two halves” in her words!
Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“The first one got a 7 for his banter, and the sub got a 6 – nothing special really”
Although it’s early days, there seems to be a huge feel-good factor around the club at the moment, with the Margate fans very much looking forward to the season ahead.
Up The Gate!