What Happens In Bognor, Stays In Bognor
Saturday 7th December 2013
—Bognor Regis Town 5 Margate FC 3—
It’s difficult to know where to begin, given all the things that have happened before, during & after this weekend. On Tuesday night, we played Hastings United in the League Cup at Hartsdown Park – despite leaving out a few first team players, that was no excuse for slumping to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Ryman South leaders. One bright point of the evening was the performance of our fans, who kept singing throughout – even when 3-0 down. Credit to them for always cheering the team on – win, lose or draw. Even more credit is due their way, considering most of these fans still have the joys of school the next morning!
Speaking of superb supporters, I must thank Mark Sandwell for his kind invitation in inviting me to the sponsors lounge for the game – never has a 3-0 defeat been so softened by the company I was fortunate enough to spend the evening with – a truly great bunch of fellow Gate fans.
Simon Osborn summed up how much of the fans felt after the game, expressing dismay in his post match interview which was posted on the official website –
“I am very unhappy with this evening’s performance and would like to apologise to the fans that came. I made the changes and so the responsibility sits with me. Those players that I selected had an opportunity to stake a claim for a place and impress but they failed to do that. I will accept defeat, albeit not very well if we have given our all. That did not happen last night and is not acceptable in any team I manage. The club and fans deserve better and I will make sure we are prepared for Saturdays game and look to get a result.”
A couple of days after this, Margate released three midfielders – Georges Ehui & Lanre Azeez’s exits being of little consequence, due to lack of impact – but the release of Cesc Fakinos did surprise me, as I felt he showed some good touches in midfield & added that little bit of class, along with Jack Sammoutis who continues to grow in stature by the game. Simon Osborn’s statement bought back memories of our Kent Senior Cup tie, in which after our 8-0 capitulation, reserve keeper Daniel O’Neill & defender / striker Melchi Emmanuel Williamson were both released by the club, following an apology by Osborn.
The defeat to Hastings didn’t bode well for the Bognor game, but 4 supporters in particular were looking forward to the long awaited trip to Sussex – Mel, Dan, Stu & myself having booked a weekender, & making the trip to Nyewood Lane via train.
As Saturday morning dawned, we found ourselves at Ramsgate station, complete with Margator in tow. There were some doubts as to whether Stu could make it due to bank related problems, but he managed to sort that just in time we started the first leg of our journey – Ramsgate to Tonbridge! Highlights noticeable on this leg of our trip were Dan taking ample opportunity to both read & admire the figure in the paper -a certain Amy Willerton who appeared in I’m A Celebrity – can’t say I watch it, but Dan’s mournful tones informed me that she’d been voted out. You really do learn something new every day!
On the Tonbridge to Redhill train, Mel kindly introduced us to Larry – not every day you meet a plush toy Lemur – & it was an honour & a privilege – even more so when she & Dan kindly serenaded me & Stu with a rendition of ‘You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful’ by pop stars One Direction! Our feisty redhead followed this by playing Milli Vanilli from her phone.. Not sure a tender love song was the right choice on the train, but hey – added to the ambience!
From Redhill to Bognor seemed to fly by, and before we knew it we were in the sunny seaside resort at about half 12 – only the 4 hours on the train then! Getting a cab to the hotel, we checked in where Mel marvelled at the tea & coffee making facilities, Stu marvelled at his bed, & I cast a quizzical eye at what turned out to be a trouser press!
Leaving for the ground with Margator in tow, we made the short journey, stopping off at the local pub (Wheatsheaf if memory serves!) & getting sidetracked by a random Saturday amateur League game, where Stu assessed the goalie’s kicking technique as poor. The Simon Cowell of judging keepers, that lad!
Getting to the stadium, it was beginning to get colder – although seeing so many Gate fans definitely warmed the cockles – a great turnout from the Margate faithful yet again. Bognor’s fans were for the most part of the older generation, & a friendly bunch – less said the better about their fans on the way out though!
After assessing the teams (keeper Craig Holloway having his name changed to Garry on the matchday programme for the second time this season) we looked to have put out a strong lineup, Walsh dropping back to centre back where he performed admirably, with Ashikodi seeming to play a lone role up front.
A two minutes silence for Nelson Mandela was held before kickoff – after which I felt duty bound to inform fellow Gate fanatic Tony of a game I attended at Gillingham, where they held a minutes silence for Rod Hull (I’m still not entirely sure why!)
Sadly, this was broken by a random Gillingham fan choosing that very moment to yell “Emu says the signal’s still sh*t!” – cue much muffled sniggering!
Thankfully, this weekends silence was observed impeccably by both sets of supporters.
Margate started well against a fluently passing Bognor side, our early pressure playing dividends when we took the lead before ten minutes had elapsed – a Bodkin corner was followed by a slight bit of goal area pinball, before Warren Whitely rifled home a deflected shot past the beanstalk-like Bognor keeper Mark Zawadski to put us 1-0 up. Delirium from my travelling companions ensued, although I’m unsure this was as to whether we’d just taken the lead or the discovery that the Bognor refreshments included a hot chocolate & doughnut deal!
Bognor, stung by their early setback, tried & tested the Gate, & won themselves a penalty – whether it was the correct decision from the referee or not, & who supposedly brought their player down were both mysteries to me – should’ve gone to SpecSavers! Hollers rendered this merely academic, by continuing his magnificent penalty save ratio – diving low to his left to keep out the penalty.
Margate, wearing their ‘bumblebee’ strip of yellow & black, were doing a great job of frustrating the home side, and asking a few questions of their own – Sammoutis linking up well with Ashikodi, who shot wide. As the half time whistle went, all seemed rosy – although I was slightly nervous about facing a Bognor onslaught in the second half! How would we respond?
Not very well, as it turned out – in fact disastrously. Bognor had a goal curiously disallowed for offside, only for a mad ten minutes to see us go 3-1 down – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory was the phrase that came to mind! Even though we had Moses up front, it was our defence that seemed to be constantly parted, although arrears could have been reduced when Moses missed the chance of the season – robbing a defender & finding himself one on one with the tempermental Zawadski (who had not reacted kindly to being asked whether he was the BFG or indeed, whether he was still endorsing cans of sweetcorn) – the striker managed to shoot wide,echoing our feelings as he held his head in his hands.
With ten minutes to go, we were back in the game through a bullet header from Walshy, who had been pushed up front to help the toiling Ashikodi.
Sadly our defence then proceeded to switch off again, allowing a left back to score twice, putting us 5-2 down & the travelling Margate fans in a distinctly grumpy mood – a cause not helped by a ball boy with the worlds squeakiest voice admonishing us at any given opportunity! Walshy did pull another goal back with yet another header, but sadly it was too little, too late.
As we dejectedly made our way from the ground, Stu carrying Margator with a face like thunder (and who could blame him?) we were subject to abuse from some Bognor fans who labelled our keeper ‘dogsh*t’ and gleefully recommended that we ‘f**k off back to Margate’ – stay off the fizzy stuff if you can’t handle it, boys!
On a positive note – Bognor were an excellent side, who I felt we could’ve matched if it wasn’t for our disjointed defence – I felt we missed Gary Borrowdale & of course John Beales at the back. It was also good to see Phil Walsh back on the scoresheet, notching his first League goals for the club since the Leiston game in September. Jack Sammoutis gave the performance of his life in central midfield, battling on even when all was lost, and showing his undoubted class with some quality passing moves too.
As for the ‘Bognor Four’, we went back to the hotel to shower & get changed for a night out – this mainly consisted of walking along the pier, happening upon a childrens playground & riding the rides (or swinging on the swings, in Mel’s case!) and retiring to watch Match Of The Day with copious amounts of sweets… Talk about painting the town red!
Sadly, there was no burger review this week, but Mel stepped up to the plate by reviewing the hot chocolate, doughnuts & the keeper’s backside – all in that order!
After which, follow some photos of our jaunt away – hope you enjoy them!
As I type this, news broke today of Simon Osborn being relieved of his managerial duties, & former Margate stalwart & dead-ball specialist midfielder Wayne Wilson returning to play for the club – a frantic Monday to end a frantic weekend!
Tomorrow we play Billericay Town in the League – rumours of Ivesy stepping up to a caretaker-manager role are as yet, unconfirmed. I do think a burst of ‘Graham Ivesy’s Barmy Army’ would be well deserved though!
Here’s hoping we can start the diminutive one’s reign with a much needed three points!
Mel’s Away Day Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Another keeper with no arse & no banter – a 1 out of 10”
Mel’s Away Day Hot Chocolate & Doughnut Review –
“The hot chocolate was amazing & the doughnuts were an unusual twist to a football game – 8 out of 10 & 9 out of 10 respectively”