Sunshine After The Rain
Saturday 28th December 2013
—Margate FC 1 Enfield Town 0—
After the mudbath of the game against Hampton & Richmond, in which the squad showed terrific character to come back from being a goal down twice, the weather continued being wet & miserable, putting this fixture in doubt.
Two days previously, we didn’t have the weather to worry about, due to our Boxing Day fixture being away at Maidstone United, who play on a 3G pitch – seeing Vinesy & Bealesy indulging in shooting practice, I asked Joe what he thought of the pitch – to which he wrinkled up his nose in a gesture of distaste and remarked “Ergh, it’s all plasticky!”
Truer words were never spoken – indeed, the stadium, pitch & even the fans have a plastic feel to them – I play at Maidstone’s ground for the team I represent in the Kent Disability League, & in my opinion – although it does play just like grass – it is somewhat strange to play on, especially if you’re not used to it.
I was lucky enough to be given a lift to this game by staunch Gate fan Mark Sandwell, and what with his step-son Christian, Andy, Stu & Mel also attending, it made for a packed but enjoyable journey! In truth, I didn’t want to write a blog for that game, what with another game coming up so quickly, and after we lost 4-0 after spectacularly imploding in the first half, I was glad I made that choice – really didn’t want to depress anyone over the festive period!
One thing I will say though – despite this perhaps sounding like sour grapes – is that money can’t buy class. The security staff were the friendliest people at the ground (says it all!) and the typical non-league spirit was missing.
By that I mean, most fans of the clubs in the Ryman Premier are a friendly bunch – Hampton, Hornchurch & Enfield being friendly whether in victory or defeat – as with the game against Maidstone in August, I felt a very condescending attitude from their supporters, who devoted their time to mainly refusing to engage in friendly conversation at halftime, singing about the Polish population of Margate (does that even matter?) and singing anti-Gillingham songs – a side that are 4 divisions above them. Petty? You bet.
On a more positive note, credit must go to everyone that went, and in particular Ivesy, Stu & George, whose vocal support was tremendous throughout the game – particularly Ivesy, who was poetically inspired to sing a song along the lines of ‘Viva Matt Bodkin’ – a superb piece of artistry that earned him a well deserved round of “He’ll trim your bush” in the first half.
While on the subject of positive notes, while glancing through the Maidstone programme, they had a page devoted to Margate club secretary Ken Tomlinson, who had prevously celebrated his 75th birthday. The programme described him as a lifelong Gate fan, as well as holding his club secretary post for 30 years, and as being one of the most well known & popular faces around Kent football – many happy returns Ken!
The less said about the game, the better – still early days, and proof that a lot of change is still needed, although I could see what the new management team were trying to do in terms of changing our style of play. Small steps, but onwards & upwards.
With the wind & rain battering Thanet, our next home game against struggling Enfield Town was majorly in doubt – again, credit must go to Ivesy for working his magic on the pitch, which against all odds, passed a 9:30 AM pitch inspection.
Although the pitch was heavy, there was no wind or rain for Margate’s players to worry about – definitely a positive – as for the team selection, Terry Brown went back to basics – new signings Rashid Yusuff & Dean McDonald were on the bench, the manager previously stating that they’d had little to no football in recent times – you could understand why he wanted to rest them. Warren Whitely & Charles Ademeno were back in for this game, & although his final delivery was lacking, Warren had another game to remember, roasting his opposing fullback with ease, one of the highlights of a very scrappy game.
Going in 0-0 at the break, after some friendly ribbing with Enfield custodian Noel Imber about his hairstyle – said hairstyle being compared to a unicorn, followed by a brief chant of “Your mum still cuts your hair!” to which he seemed to take relatively good-naturedly, in complete contrast to his last visit to Hartsdown Park – which just so happened to be my first ever Margate game! (If you’re in need of more reading material – or having a particularly boring Sunday – see my first blog entry for a match report on last years game)
Nostalgic times, even more so, due to Enfield wearing the same ‘Melchester Rovers’ kit as last season (in the words of Paul Zannetti – classic Roy Of The Rovers reference there!) However, their captain Mark Kirby had taken it upon himself to go on one of those fad diets, for the good of his health – and his slimline appearance meant that he didn’t look like a rather large Winter Warmer boiled sweet, this time round. Would love to know his secret – need to burn some podge off myself!
However, I digress.
The second half started off in much the same vein as the first, but with Margate exerting more & more pressure to the general concern & fury of Mr Imber – who devoted his time to screaming at the linesman (deja vu, anyone?) – justice prevailed, as we took the lead following a scramble in the box from another excellent Matt Bodkin corner – Joe Vines sliding the ball home to his delight – if anyone symbolises what we need in our team – in terms of commitment, fighting spirit & attitude – then Joe is that player. His celebratory salmon-like leap & clenched fist after, really did say it all for me.
We had another goal chalked off – late substitute Dean McDonald being adjuged to have been offside (I don’t feel he was) as he tapped the ball in, following a Bodkin cross – and Enfield had a couple of goals disallowed for offside as well. It would be fair to say the nerves were jangling, as the Choir & Mini Shark lads (joined by Andy Payne) sang their hearts out in yet another superb effort – duly noticed by Terry Brown in his post match interview – (inspiration for everyone to keep singing & continue getting behind the team!)
Thankfully the referee soon blew his whistle to end the game, and the Margate faithful heartily applauded the teams efforts, which they responded to. Although we may be ‘nouveau riche’ as they say, I genuinely hope the character of our fans stays the same – we’ve got an amazing bunch of loyal, warm & dedicated fans – the best I’ve ever met & known.
More positive times are ahead following Terry Brown’s first win as Margate boss, I feel – and while there’s no such thing as an easy game in this league, the fixtures we’ve got coming up (no disrespect to Thamesmead, Harrow, Cray et al) you would expect us to get some good results from – here’s hoping we can use those to push ourselves up the table!
I feel the travelling Enfield fans also deserve credit – with their numbers being estimated at being between 70-100 (and a very useful drum!) they did their team proud with their support, and the couple of fans I did exchange pleasantries in the bar after the game were an extremely friendly bunch – I wish them all the best for the rest of the season.
As for us, our next home game is against Thamesmead on New Years Day, & one I’m already looking forward to – one that sums up the general attitude of our fans at the moment – which was emphasised by Keith Lewis of MISA in his excellent column in yesterday’s programme – I really enjoyed reading his summary of the EGM / Fans Forum as well – a superb assessment & well worth the read – if you didn’t buy a programme yesterday, then you’ve got a second chance to read Keith’s column on New Years Day, as the matchday programme was for both games, owing to printing deadlines.
Traditionally, I normally end up by lowering the tone & talking about burgers & keepers backsides – so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! George & Stu were kind enough to review the burger at Maidstone, and Mel reviewed the Maidstone keeper’s derriere with a somewhat resigned detatchment (to be fair, we were losing heavily at the time!)
Maidstone Burger & Backside Scores coming up….
George & Stu’s Burger Review –
“It’s so tender, & considering I’m a smoker, & can’t taste properly, I can taste it perfectly! 10 out of 10!” (Stu restricted his review to making general appreciative noises, as he ate his burger)
Mel’s Away Day Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Hmm… a 3 out of 10, I reckon”
As for Noel Imber’s arse – Mel gleefully informed him she’d be grading him, and the suave custodian kindly offered to let her check it in the changing room – what a gent!
Enfield Backside Score…
Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“He has one of the best butts in the League, I think – nice balance of thigh & buttock! 8 out of 10”
Now that I’ve regaled you with stories of buns (burgers or otherwise!) I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year.
All the best, and many thanks for reading my ramblings since the start of the season.
NB – Highlights of yesterday’s game can be found below, as well as the Terry Brown interview I included earlier on in this post – all credit to Ryan Day & Gate Player.