Alright On The Night
Tuesday 19th November 2013
—Margate FC 1 Carshalton Athletic 0—
Following our exit from the FA Trophy at the weekend, amongst much mutinous mutterings on the MFC Facebook page (a tad harsh I felt, considering our under strength team) it was back to League action, as we took on struggling Carshalton Athletic.
In Carshalton’s case, struggling would be an understatement. Lying bottom of the League with 9 points, under the control of a megalomaniac owner who appears to have alienated the wide majority of their fanbase, & reduced to fielding what virtually amounted to a youth team, the future looks bleak for the Robins – indeed, they were fortunate to earn a reprieve from relegation last season, Thurrock being demoted for fielding an ineligible player.
It must be said however, that in this League, anything can happen, so the Margate faithful were taking nothing for granted, including yours truly who made his way to Hartsdown Park with an inflatable alligator under his arm – Margator all set for his home debut on what was an arctic night in Thanet. Suspicions that I saw a polar bear cavorting in the Coffin End are as yet unconfirmed.
As Stu & I hopped off the train, we were honoured to be accompanied by a rambling Nottingham Forest fan, who claimed that he was a world pool champion, amongst many other things. Leaving him to his ramblings along Tivoli Park Avenue, we reached Hartsdown Park where Stu proclaimed for the hundredth time that it was indeed freezing, & that he wished to seek solace in a pint.
Walking into the ground, I was met by Rick, who congratulated me on my new haircut (when I say congratulated, of course I mean we exchanged some friendly banter in which he wondered if I’d fallen under a lawnmower – some much needed laughter to warm us up!)
Much of the time was spent in the bar watching England vs San Marino U21’s, & sympathising with the San Marino keeper’s plight – being 9-0 down & then proceeding to be knocked unconscious – one to tell the grandchildren about! As the depleted Mini Shark Lads arrived, we pondered about our plans to belt out ‘Holloway’s Barmy Army’ for the entire second half – a plan that fell by the wayside as everyone seemed to be carrying a dodgy throat – understandable in November!
In our defence though, we did give it a good 45 seconds worth, mainly focusing our energy on singing various Margate related songs, despite the efforts of George to include some Christmas songs into the mix (I won’t repeat what was mentioned regarding suggestions as to where he could stick said Yuletide tunes!)
As the teams were read out over the tannoy, we still seemed very much under strength, U21 Sam Beale having to deputise at left back once again, and Charles Ademeno having to sit this one out, along with the Vines brothers & skipper John Beales, who was still out through injury. However, we welcomed fiery midfielder Scott Kinch back, although as luck would have it – he seemed to pull up halfway through the match – Mo must have his hands full in the physio room lately!
The first half was a mainly scrappy affair, stand-in captain Richard Avery having an effort cleared off the line, while Craig Holloway was equal to Carshalton’s efforts – an assured display between the sticks earning him the MOTM award. Other noticeable moments of the first half included serenading Fraser the steward with his own song, & heartbreaker Dan Boyle enveloping Mel & Margator in one of his bear hugs in order to keep them both warm – the lad really is a gentleman!
As the whistle blew to end a forgettable first half, we trudged round to the South Stand where we devoted our halftime to rigging up Margator to one of the posts, hoping that he wouldn’t blow onto the pitch (Gator stops play being an attractive headline, however)
Before we knew it, the second half was underway and our 45 second salvo of ‘Holloway’s Barmy Army’ galvanised the lads into action – although one could argue that the introduction of talented midfielders Jack Sammoutis & Cesc Fakinos – replacing Sam Beale & Georges Ehui – could have played a part in a much improved performance, with mercurial winger Matt Bodkin in his element, taking defenders on along with able support from Ryan Dolby.
Try as they might though, Gate were struggling to make a breakthrough, although commendably they kept their heads up, and persisted with pressurising Carshalton’s wobbly back four, and a keeper that never seemed to leave the comfort of his line.
This superb effort from the team was rewarded when after yet another Margate corner, Walsh flicked on Fakinos’ cross, setting up Borrowdale, who snuck in like a thief in the night to head past the Carshalton keeper.
Jubilation from the 82 souls – later corrected to 142- that had braved the glacial conditions (and decided to give the overpaid, overrated prima donnas that represented the senior England squad against Germany a miss) followed, and I treated myself to a shuttle run of the terraces, cheering loudly & holding one of my arms aloft in celebration, much in the style of Alan Shearer. In my defence, I was very happy & it helped warm me up a bit!
Margate saw out the rest of the game well, keeping possession & enticing a frustrated Carshalton side into giving away numerous freekicks – to his credit, the referee I felt had a good, level-headed & competent game, an opinion echoed by other Margate fans. If only we could have him every week!
A huge cheer resounded when the final whistle blew, the much needed 3 points lifting us up four places to 10th, and hopefully a timely confidence boost for our trip to Lowestoft on Saturday. Just as importantly, the points were a well deserved belated birthday present for Terry – whose advice to me last season about layering up has served me well over the past year! Very apt coming from a Gate fanatic – blue blood really does run through her veins!
Speaking of die-hard fans, the Carshalton fans (11 in all) that had travelled down deserve a worthy mention – all the best to them for the rest of the season, & was a pleasure to meet you all.
Further good news was bestowed upon me by Mel, resplendent in her glamorous floor length coat – who informed me that she had managed to get the neccessary time off work, paving the way for a weekender in Bognor, where we will be partaking in the sights & sounds of Butlins (maybe) before watching the mighty Gate take on Bognor Regis Town.
I’m sure photos will be forthcoming of this monumental event in early December, but for now Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter will have to suffice – although this is followed by a somewhat interesting picture of the legend that is Ivesy wearing Terry’s shoes – feel free to add your own caption!
NB – Many thanks to those who corrected any errors previously made in this post – namely Don Walker, James Anderson & Ted Pittman – much appreciated.
Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Terry had him at a 4 and Mel had 5 – distinctly bland (referee had more banter!) but nice knees bumped his rating up – so a 4.5 out of 10”
***Ivesy’s new look – apparently the shoes matched his eyes!***