Rough And Tumble
Tuesday 18th February 2014
—Margate FC 2 Thamesmead Town 1—
The weather – or the poor condition of it – has been a talking point in recent weeks. After our away success at Cray Wanderers (which also broke a personal hoodoo – having seen us lose our previous 7 away games!) both hopes & expectations were high for the Wingate & Finchley away game, so much so that Mark Sandwell had gone to the trouble of hiring a minibus for the supporters to make the journey in.
Sadly, as mentioned in my previous blog, the weather put paid to that idea, before heartlessly robbing us of the chance to play East Thurrock United away, & Grays Athletic at home. The Grays postponement was particularly galling, and must have been even more so for Ivesy, who found his tireless work on the pitch thwarted by a two hour downpour, just before the pitch inspection.
While it’s always frustrating having a match called off, we definitely have the most dedicated (and diminutive!) groundsman in the League, and his work deserves to be recognised & acknowledged by all.
Indeed, his work was recognised by all and sundry in the bar afterwards – Ivesy informing his audience that his chosen method of pitch preparation involved worm whipping – which fortunately turned out not to be a euphemism, but a phrase used for dealing with worm casts (which are like molehills I’m told, only worm related instead)
After a typically rainy weekend, the weather gods smiled on us, as Ivesy’s frenzied worm whipping (Ooh matron!) managed to get the pitch looking in excellent condition for the visit of Thamesmead Town – who I felt would be a different proposition from the outfit that meekly surrendered to Gate when we played them away in August, Margate despatching them 2-0.
In that blog, I strongly mooted them to be relegation candidates – but credit to them, with a new look squad (including ex Gate players Tommy Whitnell & Lanre Azeez) they had managed to drag themselves out of the relegation zone, albeit with six more games played then the nearest side to them – George Borg’s resurgent Enfield Town.
Making my way to the ground with Stu (and a deflated looking Margator) was a pleasure – I’d not had the chance to catch up with him for a while, and so the 45 minute walk to Margate was mostly spent putting the world to rights, and talking about football – a very varied discussion!
Before we arrived at Hartsdown Park, Dan had kindly taken the time to message me, telling me that there was a new programme out for the game – my collection is seriously beginning to mount up! As always, it was nice to see Dave Miles & Harvey as we got into the ground – I couldn’t seem to locate Grant, apologies if I missed you on the way in, mate!
Due to suffering from anxiety related dizzy spells recently, I opted to spend the time before the game by the steps near the club shop, while the Margate players were put through their paces.
Regarding the MFC revolving door, more arrivals & departures were done & dusted before this game – central defender Charlie Wassmer signing from Hayes & Yeading, and Daniel Wishart signing on a month’s loan from Conference side Alfreton Town – Wishart came across as quite the utility player, being able to play left back, left wing & up front. Dean McDonald was the lone depature, heading to Conference South side Whitehawk.
On checking the team lineups on the back of the programme, I barely recognised Thamesmead’s starting XI, which seemed almost as entirely new as ours!
Jim, who I had the pleasure of talking to before the game, had previously pointed out a fact that if Hollers, Avo, & Walshy didn’t start, then our side would be bereft of anyone that started the previous fixture at Thamesmead earlier this season – a good point well made, as to how much the squad has changed in recent times.
As it happened, Hollers & Avo had to be content with places on the bench, while Walshy started up front alongside Charles Ademeno.
The game kicked off in bizarrely muted fashion, although we soon realized that this was because Terry was tempting fate by being in the sponsors lounge – her yells of encouragement audible even from the Coffin End, which got the Choir going.
It must be said that Margate started slowly, Thamesmead forcing a succession of corners which were comfortably seen out by the Gate defence (missing injured skipper Jamie Stuart) – but as the half progressed, Margate’s fluid passing play began to ask questions of a panicky Thamesmead defence, who boasted a Joey Essex lookalike at left back, and a player with the most unfortunate of masks in central defence – which was probably down to a facial injury, but led to the Choir enquiring if he was Batman in disguise, as well as the slightly older gentlemen in the crowd drawing comparisions to the Lone Ranger – “Who is that masked man?”
Thamesmead’s plan seemed to be to play for a draw – but despite the best shouts of their goalie, looked distinctly uneasy under the Gate pressure, including debutant Daniel Wishart seeing his effort come off the post. This led to the opposition changing to Plan B, which seemed to consist of them scything down anything in a blue & white striped shirt.
As half-time approached, Mitchell Nelson made an excellent covering tackle, only for their number 6 to roll around, seemingly in his death throes. This reaction prompted the ref – who did seem to like the sound of his own voice – to book Mitchell, extremely harshly I felt.
Justice was soon exacted however, as five minutes before half time, Charles Ademeno went on a mazy run, and ignoring my screams to pass the ball, hammered an unstoppable shot into the net from a tight angle. Gate saw out the half fairly comfortably, and I felt one more goal would comfortably kill off the game as a contest.
As Terry Brown stated in his post match interview with Ryan Day, which will be posted at the end of this article – he doesn’t know what he’s doing wrong in his team talks, but that something needed to change.
Our habit of conceding early on in the second half continued, as from what I could see, a Thamesmead player volleyed home after a scramble in our defence, giving debutant keeper Nikki Bull no chance.
This seemed to be given as a Charlie Wassmer own goal, before being given to Tommy Whitnell, before Ryan (for the benefit of all of us) mentioned that on watching the footage back, it appeared to be their number 6 (Tozer) who had volleyed home, after recovering from his near death experience in the first half.
Gate slowly but surely attempted to break Thamesmead down with some precise & patient play – although it was slightly reminiscent of Arsenal at times, as no-one seemed to want to test the keeper – an observation also shared by Terry Brown, who clearly doesn’t miss a thing.
Margate retook the lead in somewhat confusing circumstances with just under half an hour to go – a corner was half cleared, and Charlie Wassmer appeared to hook the ball hopefully back into the box, only to see his effort evade the diving Thamesmead goalie – however, they all count, and none more so than this – an important goal to put us 2-1 up.
With Thamesmead looking threatening on the counter – although we had numerous chances to kill the game off – Riviere firing a shot wide, and Jack Sammoutis (who put in another assured performance in midfield) fluffing a cross into the area, to his immense frustration – there were a few nervy minutes towards the end, and there appeared to be a bout of handbags when Walshy was cynically chopped down by Robocop / Batman / The Lone Ranger (I never did find out the players name!)
With various high pitched squeals coming from from the Thamesmead technical area, which were met with a terse “Shut up!” from the Gate faithful, fortunately the last high pitched squeal proved to be the referee blowing the final whistle. For the first time since the opening month of the season, Margate had won back to back games, and the fans gratefully applauded the teams efforts, which they all acknowledged.
Worn out and relieved (which must have been how the players felt!) I made my way to the bar, before which I felt it prudent to give a kiss to Larry the Lemur – who had proved once again to be another lucky charm for Gate, stashed in Mel’s bag for safekeeping.
Mel & her husband Steve were very helpful when it came to the post match analysis of the keeper’s rear end and the hot dog review (to clarify, Mel chose to review the keeper’s backside!) and everyone enjoyed warming up in the bar – especially a beautiful & beaming Terry, who generously presented Walshy with a belated birthday cake – I believe this was demolished by the Margate squad in roughly the same time as it takes Usain Bolt to finish the 100 metre sprint.
Sitting contently in the bar, watching the other Margate fans mingle with the players & management, I found myself inspired to include a quote by the late, great Sir Bobby Robson – although I don’t believe we have televison contracts (or indeed, executive boxes) at Margate – I truly hope we keep our family club spirit going. With the new players, owner & management seeming very friendly & approachable, I’m sure this will be the case.
That well-earned 3 points for Margate puts us up to 15th in the table – and if we can continue our recent run of good form, I feel confident that we’ll secure a comfortable midtable finish – next season is where the real work begins. Our next games (weather permitting) involve trips to East Anglia – we play Bury Town this weekend, followed by Leiston on the Tuesday. Here’s hoping that we can carry on in the same vein of form.
Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Keeper had a Beyonce arse – a 4 out of 10“
Mel & Steve’s Hot Dog Review –
“Perfection – 8 out of 10”
As promised, here is Ryan Day’s interview with manager Terry Brown for Gate Player – I’d also like to congratulate Ryan on his new role of Press Officer – very well deserved!