Pink & Blue Deja Vu
Saturday 28th September 2013
—Margate FC 1 Dulwich Hamlet 2—
There’s a lot of sights in my life that I have wished I could unsee – two women fighting in Chatham High Street, one using her crutches as an offensive weapon, & the other screaming ‘Hold my baby!’ in a distinctive Medwegian drawl, flashbacks from episodes of The Only Way Is Essex that I was forced to watch by an ex-girlfriend, or the time I sat on another ex-girlfriends dog while meeting her parents for the first time.
Yesterday, I added the sight of pink & blue quartered shirts doing a celebratory conga to that list.
As Margate slumped to a 2-1 defeat to the same team who did for us in midweek, there was something depressingly familiar about this tale – hence the blog title of Pink & Blue Deja Vu (nothing like a Sunday morning glass of orange juice & bacon sarnie to get the creativity going!)
The day had started off so well – meeting up with good friend & ardent Gate fan Mel, who introduced me to possibly the best sweet shop ever, before making our way down to Hartsdown Park to be greeted by the always cheerful & smiling Cliff Egan (I’ve been going to Hartsdown Park for just over a year now, & have never seen Cliff without a smile on his face – a true gent)
We made our way into the bar, which was already well represented with Dulwich fans, a friendly & vocal bunch, before settling down at a nearby table. Before too long, the usual group of legends sauntered in – Ivesy, who wasted no time in apprehending me on my taste in celebrity women (sorry mate, Rihanna really isn’t all that!) Dan ‘The Man’ Boyle, smiling as always & looking forward to the game, and the choir / mini shark lads, full of the joys of spring (well, September)
After catching up with everyone, I walked out onto the terraces to be greeted with yet another wonderful sight – Terry with Kevlar Shark, who Grant & Stu wasted no time in pumping up for the game ahead.
Indeed, as the game started Margate looked pumped up themselves, as they looked to avenge the 2-0 defeat during the week just gone. Before long though, Dulwich were attempting to stamp their authority on the game, their brand of excellent passing football & that man Oztomer testing out the Gate defence, & in particular Craig Holloway who kept the South London side at bay with a fantastic diving save from an Ellis Green effort – the Dulwich fans after the game remarked on their admiration for the Gate player/manager.
As the half wore on, it was a fairly equal contest, with Charles Ademeno continuing his tradition of terrorising the Dulwich defence with a swashbuckling run before shooting tamely at the keeper Phil Wilson, who cheerily recognised me from Tuesday.
The Hamlet defence still looked decidingly shaky, & this came to fruition when Bodders got the better of their number 8 who tugged him to the ground in a move reminiscent of WWF Wrestling that I used to watch as a kid. The referee duly pointed to the spot, Ademeno despatching the penalty straight down the middle to our delight, particularly the choir who did themselves proud in the first half. Their excellent support was remarked on by the Dulwich keeper, our skilful winger Warren Whitely after the game, & most important of all, returning legend Dutch – was great to see him & his dad back at Hartsdown Park.
As the half time whistle blew after a solid display by the Blues, there was a nagging feeling that this cup tie was far from over.
Not long after the second half began, Phil Walsh – who had replaced an out of sorts Paul Vines at half time, almost made an instant impact as a half volley left Wilson rooted to the spot, the ball unfortunately richocheting off the bar. Five minutes into the half however, & Dulwich were level. A ball across caught the Gate defence napping, Ellis Green nipping in & despatching a diving header past an understandably apolopetic Holloway.
After the equaliser, you could almost feel the players heads drop, & worse was to follow when a Dulwich corner was cleared out to the edge of the box, before Ethan Pinnock had time to take a touch & bury an unstoppable shot past Holloway. 2-1 Dulwich, & the tie had completely turned on its head.
Gate did their best to battle their way back into the game, but this was looking increasingly to be in vain, to the frustration of the players & the Choir, who lapsed into a morose silence despite their best efforts in the first half. In what proved to be a bad day all round, an apparent stamping incident involving Avo led to the Dulwich players surrounding the referee, who promptly reached into his pocket & sent off George Whitelock, who had not long entered the fray. An easy mistake to make, due to Avo being tall & blonde, and George being short & dark.
As an understandably fuming Whitelock made his way off the pitch, yet again the quality of the referees at our level had to be called into question. Where do they find them? In what was a small consolation, a couple of Dulwich fans I spoke to after the game (who had decided to give their conga a miss) informed me that they had to put up with even worse officiating in the Ryman South last season. Frightening to comprehend.
As the final whistle blew, for the second time in a week I was treated to the sight of pink & blue shirts doing the conga – leading to a rash decision on the way home to purchase a large kebab & spend my Saturday night indoors with a face like thunder. Or as Terry calls it, the face of a petulant child (she’s not far wrong to be fair!)
Taking some positives from the game – the players looked as hurt as I felt – so any questions about their commitment to the cause really do need to be nipped in the bud. It hurts them just as much as it does us when they lose, & they won’t be spending their Saturday nights in Chinawhites while being snapped with glamour models of ill repute (I can’t speak for Ivesy or Pridders, however)
Another positive of sorts was that we lost to a team that I genuinely feel will be challenging for promotion come the end of the season. A lesson in how to get to where we want to be. Willing the lads to blow away the recent negativity & indifferent performances with a good result up at Wealdstone – never an easy team to play, but how sweet would it be to get one over on their questionable fans – in particular the Wealdstone Raider? (video at the bottom of this article)
As for myself, I miss out on the away day due to having a family wedding to attend – there’s something very depressing about having to shun football for vol au vents!
To answer the Wealdstone Raider’s question – No. No I don’t want some.