Tuesday 4th February 2014
—Cray Wanderers 1 Margate FC 4—
Some things really are worth waiting for – my mum (as all mums do) has a phrase for it – delayed gratification. And nothing was more gratifying than seeing Margate play (and win!) in style in the slightly rainy climes of Bromley last night.
Walking to Broadstairs station with fellow die-hard fan Daniel Boyle (who definitely had a night to remember, having Gate’s away following in stitches!) was a pleasure, even if we did attract the traditional funny looks due to carrying Margator at the time. Indeed, we even bumped into one of the mini shark lads (Jordy) who apologised for not being able to make the game due to family commitments – Dan however wouldn’t hear of it & tried to physically drag him to the station with us – all in good fun of course!
At the station, we met James, & George – who was still on a high from celebrating his 18th birthday – and felt the need to remind me that I’m 30 this year, which is halfway to 60 – as if to emphasise the point, he also remarked that I would’ve been in secondary school before he was born. Thanks for that, mate!
As the train reached Margate, we were greeted by a resplendent looking Mel – ever the glamour girl in her Cruella De Vil style coat, & many layers of MFC related clothing – she also did us the great honour of dragging Larry Lemur along – if you’re not familiar with Larry, hes a small plush lemur toy – with evil eyes, & a fondness for long journeys. In honour of the occasion, Mel had even dressed him up in a blue top & completed the look with a blue shamballa bracelet – now that’s dedication!
Many topics were discussed on the train route, the main one seeming to be the prices of food on the buffet trolley that was balefully wheeled up & down by the world’s most downcast woman – it probably didn’t help that people were bashing the prices of her stock (“£1.90 for three Jaffa Cakes?! You’ve been robbed Dan!”) & after everyone had made their purchases, she swiftly wheeled her trolley of goods away with a moodily muttered “Cheers then” – shades of Leiston at home last season!
By this point, we had reached Chatham – being an ex Medway resident, I felt the need to do a short & sweet cover of Elvis Presley’s “In The Ghetto” – apologies to anyone with Chatham connections or working eardrums – my singing voice isn’t the best! Plans for an appearance on the next X-Factor are currently on hold while I seek a vocal coach.
On arrival at Bromley South, we made a pigs ear of getting out of the station, but when we did, we were greeted by a beaming David Pittman, who kindly offered to walk us up to the ground. After a quick stop for James & George in Subway, we were on our way, past various joggers & some rather posh houses.
The ground was about 10/15 minutes walk away from the station, & one of the floodlights didn’t appear to be working – until all was revealed by a friendly Cray fan, who informed us that they didn’t put the floodlights on until the five-a-side games nearby were finished with – and also warned us about the small open manhole near by!
Taking my customary pictures of the ground & programme (saddo as always!) I happened across Hollers being put through his paces by Simon Pridmore – Hollers walking over & asking how I got to tonights game – I believe the word is slightly starstruck! I wished him luck for the game & left him to his warmup, further away, Stuart Cash could clearly be heard putting the rest of the squad through their paces.
The pitch didn’t look too bad in fairness, although sandy in places & it did cut up as the game went on – not helped by the fine rain that was coming down towards the end.
Manager Terry Brown had named an attacking lineup – with two debutants, Mitchell Nelson & Tom Phipp both starting, along with Charles Ademeno, birthday boy Phil Walsh & Dean McDonald up front.
After a bright start for Margate, we took the lead early on – Phipp hammering home after someone seemed to miss their kick in the area. Although Cray looked dangerous on the break, they didn’t appear to have much going for them – their cause not being helped by their rather portly keeper, who Ivesy incredulously remarked ‘Surely you can’t be first choice?’ to – before him & Dan spent most of the game instructing him on how to take goalkicks properly – “get your foot under it keeper” and Dan’s classic “Put your weight behind it!” were both ignored by the Cray custodian, although it was to his own cost as he continuously sliced the ball out of play or saw his weak kicks barely leaving the ground. Some Burger King vouchers were offered, but didn’t seem to improve his mood.
We may have been a little over enthusastic in our banter – although singing “He’s wearing a sports bra” was a personal highlight. Credit to the keeper, he did take it well.
As the half progressed, Ademeno had a goal chalked off for offside, as well as hitting the post with an angled drive. Halftime went & the Gate faithful traipsed down to the other end, which seemed to be a mixture of terracing & benches.
All too often this season, we’ve started slowly in the second half & been punished for it – sadly, this was the case again, as a Cray attack ended with the ball being crossed into ex Gate player Paul Vines, who was left with a tap in, giving Hollers no chance. The lovely Mrs Vines must’ve been pleased – she informed us that her son & recently departed Margate legend Joe would be turning up after his training session at Greenwich Borough – but for the rest of us, a morose silence fell upon the travelling Margate fans.
We could’ve found ourselves in dire straits, were it not for the heroics of Hollers & some wayward shooting from Cray, but gradually Margate began to get back into the game & stamp their authority on things – some fluid, patient passing was very much on show – Terry Brown’s style of football that he had remarked on at last year’s EGM clearly in evidence – but chances came & went, before an absolute thunderbolt of a shot from right back & debutant Mitchell Nelson saw the ball hit the net & come back out again, such was its power.
We were now in the last quarter hour of the game, & things got even better two minutes later, as Sam Rents capped off a flowing move, with a composed finish past the Cray keeper. The basement boys confidence had dropped considerably, although Paul Vines toiled admirably up front, and the introduction of Wayne Wilson late on bought instant dividends, as he found the top corner with a cultured, curling effort from his magical left boot.
By this stage, we were all Poznaned out, & settled for yelling our happiness to the skies, while Dan continued his banter with a very sporting keeper – Personally the blame has to fall squarely at the door of Mel – those strawberry laces on the way up had left the young man in fine form, & his one-liners and delivery rivalled that of the very greatest comedians in their pomp.
As the final whistle went, the Gate faithful rapturously applauded the squad & the management (Terry Brown & Stuart Cash both being serenaded & asked to give us a wave – to which they both kindly obliged!) & we made our way to the bar, where we found Joe Vines, in full training gear (wearing a MFC tracksuit top – yes Mark, it did have UBLOW on it too!) beaming as his old team-mates came over to catch up with him. It’s a mark of the man’s popularity how well he was received by his ex team-mates, and indeed Mel – who asked for a photo with him, to which he was only too happy to help with. A true gentleman.
As the rest of the players came in, we took the opportunity to present Walshy with an impromptu birthday card – credit to Mr Hayward for that idea – which was signed by us & all the players. I wished him many happy returns & informed him that Terry had a cake with his name on in the near future – at this point he gave an excited beam & said “Ah brilliant, can’t wait for that!”
Another highlight was how approachable Terry Brown was – and his sense of humour, the remark of the night being “It’s great we’ve signed all these goalscoring defenders – I just have to teach them how to defend, now!”
A real confidence boost for the squad ahead of Saturday’s fixture against Wingate & Finchley, and a happy journey home for our terrific supporters – all of whom it was a pleasure to see again – even the Margate dog was in attendance! I’ll try to ask Wendy what the dogs name is, one of these days!
In regards to the blog title, all credit must go to Terry Scott for this – her prophetic qualities knowing no bounds as she mentioned the possiblity of using ‘Phipping Heck’ as a headline, should the occasion arise! Speaking of which, I must give her a text to ask her about this weekend’s lottery numbers…
Mel’s Away Day Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Flabby – a 2 out of 10”
Dan’s Away Day Burger Review –
“Not bad – a 6 out of 10 for the burger, & a 8 out of 10 for the chips”