A Game Of Two Halves
Saturday 30th November 2013
—Margate FC 1 Canvey Island 1—
The dedication (or in some cases, lunacy) of football fans, knows no bounds. Some have been known to name their child after their favourite player, others have made 500 mile journeys on a Tuesday night in Arctic conditions, to watch their team lose 3-0 at some God-forsaken hellhole, this when they’ve already been relegated..
In my case, my act of dedication / lunacy, was to struggle out of the house to watch the mighty Margate play after drinking copious amounts of Lemsip & suffering dizzy spells all week. Some will say I’ve always been a bit dizzy, but there you go!
I was fortunate enough to get a lift to the ground from Jim, whose conversation was always a joy to listen to. Truly grateful mate, & I’d buy you a bottle of your Dufftown’s Finest, if I knew where to find it!
Before the game, I was privileged to catch up with Terry & her jubilant son Arthur, as well as star U10 striker Cam, fresh from their 5-1 victory over Sturry Kings that morning – they really are flying!
This game was notable for the clash of the Moses’ – Canvey had recently signed striker Moses Ademola on loan from the despised Dover Athletic, while we had made a marquee signing in that of Moses Ashikodi – a player who can list clubs like West Ham & Glasgow Rangers on his CV, to name just a couple! A noticeable coup from the management, and one you feel that shows a statement of intent, in which to remedy the lack of goals that have been scored this season.
As the teams came out, Gate being backed by the very vocal Choir & Mini Shark Lads, I confess to being nervous about the side Canvey had put out – Ademola & another loan signing, Tony Stokes, spearheading their attack along with Harrison Chatting.
It must be said that Margate started superbly, looking unrecognisable from the sluggish displays against Carshalton and Wingate & Finchley recently. Ashikodi & Walsh looked to be linking up well in attack, the former looking very lively & eager to impress on his debut – strong, good at holding the ball up & a decent turn of pace were all very welcome to see.
Warren Whitely had our best chances, & perhaps should’ve done better, but there was much optimism about how we were playing, and die-hards such as Steve & Alan even found the time for a bit of banter – Steve quizzing Dan Boyle about his blonde locks & whether he did indeed use lemon juice to bleach said locks in the summer, & Alan taking time out from chatting up two local female journalists (journalistas?) to kindly inform the good natured Canvey keeper not to worry about his dodgy ‘Movember’ moustache, as he’d be able to shave it off the next day!
Mel also attended, always a welcome sight and another example of the fan dedication / lunacy example – dragging herself from her sick bed to go & watch Margate – impressive stuff, although questionable if you were a doctor!
Chances came & went, in particular for Whitely with a volleyed effort that was straight at the keeper, & an opportunistic free kick from Ryan Dolby, that the Canvey custodian was forced to save with his foot.
Sadly, this came back to haunt us, as during a rare attack, Canvey took the lead. As much as it pains me to say it, Ademola deserved credit for some dazzling footwork which left the Gate defence trailing in his wake, before slotting past Holloway, who was given no chance.
1-0 down with five minutes to go until half time, & very much against the run of play was an understatement – Canvey looking distinctly unimpressive up until then. As the half time whistle blew, “How can we be losing to this lot?” were the words uttered from my frozen lips!
I trudged down to the Coffin End, looking forward to indulging in some singing with the Choir & Mini Shark Lads, while the half time interval was spent coming up with a song for our recent signing – it’ll be worth the wait, I can assure you!
Before long, the second half kicked off & we found ourselves on the back foot, as Canvey – clearly buoyed by their goal, had their tails up & were pressurising Margate, who had the influential Hollers to thank for a string of first class reaction saves.
As the half progressed, both spirits & songs dwindled, cue the intervention of Terry – who both urged & inspired us to sing anything & everything to cheer the team on! To everyone (and Terry’s credit – she honoured us by joining in throughout!) the fans responded in magnificent fashion, belting out the full rendition of Margate songs, and repeating them when we’d ran out of songs to sing!
This may sound corny, misinformed, or possibly both – but the support seemed to drive Gate on, the Blues getting more & more into the game, with the Canvey defence being given a torrid time – Cesc Fakinos & Lanre Azeez aiding & abetting after being bought on as subs, although credit must go to Man Of The Match Ryan Dolby, Matt Bodkin & Moses Ashikodi for terrific displays. As the clock ticked down, I was starting to wonder whether this would be one of those days – cue divine intervention.
I realise that this would have been superb timing for a Moses gag – lines like ‘he parted the defence’ and ‘he led us to the promised land’ have already been considered – but as yet another quality Bodkin corner was swung into the box, prolific marksman (and defender) Gary Borrowdale made a darting near post run & met the ball with a looping header to leave the keeper stranded. 1-1, and all things considered, a fair scoreline – the view of Ivesy (who had taken a break from passing on his musical knowledge – meant to ask him what his opinions on Lionel Richie were!) and many other fans.
There were some anxious moments,mostly due to Canvey attacking & our own attacks being thwarted by an over-zealous linesman, but as the final whistle blew, our reaction was one of satisfaction. 3 home games with 7 points out of 9 is definitely a reason to be cheerful, and with Lewes being suprisingly held by Thamesmead, we hadn’t lost any ground on the pack chasing the playoffs.
To quote an old football cliche, it really was a game of two halves – we had the better of the first, despite Canvey taking the lead, & Canvey had much the better of the second – although I felt we would’ve been extremely unlucky to lose. We were well worth a point in my eyes – a decent performance from the squad.
As we retired to the bar post match, plans were being made for our weekender in Bognor – an interesting mixture of Mel, myself, Dan, Stu, a plush toy Lemur (Larry) and an inflatable alligator (Margator) being the travelling party! Heaven help the hotel we’re staying at, although Mel gleefully informed me of the joys that the hotel provided – a swimming pool (time to get those orange armbands out then!) and a full English breakfast – who could ask for more?
Before the inevitable Arse-O-Meter (I know you all skip down to the end to see that part first!) credit must go to Andy Payne – seeing a freezing Stu & I making our way to the train station, he got his cab to pull over & paid for us to get home – a noble gesture, and one I’m looking forward to repaying with a pint or two at Tuesday night’s game! Thanks Andy – you really are a gent.
For reference, we face Hastings United in the League Cup Tuesday night, with the winners set to take on that friendly bunch (with no delusions of grandeur at all) Maidstone United – a side we also face Boxing Day. As I write this, it’s officially December today, so George – your Xmas songs are now acceptable & I apologise for my Scrooge-like behaviour in grumbling about them before now! For artistic reasons only (honest, Guv!) this will always be my favourite Xmas song.
Back to football related matters – here’s hoping for a great set of results over December & the Xmas period for Margate to push us up towards the playoffs!
But for now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“He had no arse (is that physically possible?) – 2 on the Arse-O-Meter, and 1 of those points was for his Movember effort! He was friendly, though – a 2 out of 10“