The Thin Blue Line
Tuesday 25th March 2014
—Margate FC 1 Met Police 0—
While this blog title can be considered a play on the old police sitcom starring Rowan Atkinson, it can also be used for what was quite a close game, although Margate did look fairly comfortable throughout, one or two slightly shaky moments aside.
As usual, I met up with Dan before going to Hartsdown Park, indulging in an in-depth football chat on the way up – before the ladies man swiftly retired to the bar, in order to enjoy his pre-match Blue WKD’s.
My own pre-match preparation differed slightly, in that I got talking to Harvey & Keith Lewis, who were selling the matchday programme – which is a double edition, owing to the Grays Athletic game on Thursday. For anyone who buys the programme, and even those who don’t – I’d strongly recommend buying it just for Keith’s column alone – it’s always an interesting & insightful read.
After that, I popped into the club shop to see Poppy, and pay for my hoody that she saved me – by now, the night was definitely turning colder! I also picked up a Legend’s Evening ticket for Terry, as well as some chips which I managed not to sprinkle sugar on this time, as she was selling the SuperDraw tickets in Cliff Egan’s absence.
There was a great bit of news from Sarah Egan that our fans had beaten the £500 target raised for Sports Relief – again, all credit to everyone that was involved in any way. Last night though, Sarah’s concerns mainly revolved around setting the Wi-Fi up for Ivesy, so that he could watch the Manchester derby – which I won’t mention anymore about in case he decides to throttle me!
Before long, I was greeted by the sight of Mel, adding some glamour as always to a cold Tuesday night, in her furry blue coat, accompanied as always by Larry Lemur. Shortly after her arrival, the Mini Shark Lads turned up en masse – with George & Stu not far behind.
When quizzed on their whereabouts last Saturday, Tom & Dom gave an involuntary shudder & admitted that they were both at Stamford Bridge, watching Arsenal get trounced by Chelsea.
The pained expression on Tom’s face was truly one to behold, as an avid Gunner, he explained that he’d somehow ended up in the Chelsea end – “I had to sit there and pretend to be happy that we were losing 6-0” he informed me in a slightly traumatised tone.
In truth, it was such a cold night that many of the fans stayed in the bar right up until kick off – which, as usual, was followed by our mad dash down to the Coffin End.
Margate’s starting XI were slightly changed from the momentous victory against Lowestoft at the weekend, with Charlie Wassmer, Anthony Riviere & Charles Ademeno replacing Jamie Stuart, Tom Phipp & Daniel Wishart respectively.
A noticeable aside on the night, was that Met Police’s squad were playing in what can only be described as the brightest away kit I’ve ever seen – clearly inspired by the fluorescent shade of yellow that highlighter pens so often come in. They could, at least, claim it saves money on the floodlights!
As the game went by, the Choir & Mini Shark Lads’ attentions focused on the Met Police goalie, an extremely amiable chap by the name of Dave Smalley, a somewhat ironic surname due to his slightly rotund figure. I realise this sounds ironic coming from me, but he was the subject of some good natured banter involving kebabs & burgers, and he had a friendly response for every question posed to him – a true legend.
With the half seeming to drag on, we got talking to the goalie, who informed us that he was actually 42, and a goalkeeping coach. When offered to throw the game in exchange for a cheeseburger, he informed us that he’d only consider this if it was a double cheeseburger – some superb haggling skills from the custodian!
Luckily, with just over half an hour gone, cheeseburgers & bribes went out the window, as Charlie Wassmer, back from suspension, headed in his third goal in six games, from a delightful delivery by Bods – cue the celebratory Poznan & the amused looks on the matchday stewards’ faces!
After singing the normal round of Margate songs throughout the half, we broke new ground – singing ‘One Man & His Alligator’ – a slight remix of the Chelsea chant ‘One Man Went To Mow’ – although said inflatable alligator wasn’t at the game, due to deflation issues, it was a superb effort by the lads.
Met Police apparently hit the post not long before halftime, but my observational skills had gone AWOL for the night – I have to admit I didn’t even notice this – or maybe I was just slightly dazzled by their bright shirts!
As halftime arrived, most of the break was spent discussing what a top man the opposing keeper was, and that we’d like him even more if the score stayed the same – before long, the teams were out again, and we were underway.
In truth, most of the second half was pretty forgettable – but for an inspired display by the Choir, and especially the Mini Shark Lads, who dedicated songs to Larry Lemur, new chairman & owner Bob Laslett (who was beaming at the chorus of ‘Super Bob’ he received) and all manner of chants for the new players – Nikki Bull, Charlie Wassmer, Jefferson Louis, Anthony Riviere, and late substitute Luke Medley all having songs dedicated to them.
Inspired work from the Mini Shark Lads, who more than made up for their absences at the weekend, ably backed up by George, Stu & James.
On what was progressing into a glacial night, both sides created more chances towards the end of the game – Sam Rents being unlucky to see his free kick curl just wide, and Met Police having a couple of opportunities, that were well dealt with by Omar Beckles, Charlie Wassmer & Nikki Bull – but the highlight of the night were the lads singing a full on medley of Margate-related songs, including what I believe was a good 10-15 minutes worth of ‘Terry Brown’s Barmy Army’ – indeed, even the irrepressible Met Police keeper was dancing along to that!
As the final whistle blew, a loud cheer erupted from the fans, who had all done themselves proud – especially the Mini Shark Lads, who were in superb form throughout the game, and made a freezing cold night a lot more bearable for the hardy 188 souls that attended this midweek fixture.
With Margate now winning three games on the trot, without conceding a goal, I feel that Terry Brown’s influence on the team is becoming more & more noticeable – and going on this latest evidence, he’s doing all the right things, which bodes well for next season.
Next up are Grays Athletic on Thursday, before a trip to the God-forsaken place otherwise known as Canvey Island – if anyone wanted an indication as to what their fans are like, this YouTube link should be of use – apologies in advance for the ‘colourful language’ that begins at 2:18 of the clip – ironically, the player the Canvey fans were venting their anger at – Michael Alaile – now plays for them.
On a more light-hearted note, we now finish with Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter.
Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter
“His arse was quite nice – when this was pointed out to him, he emphasized that he had heard our compliment by slapping his butt with both hands, much to our amusement. He started out as a 5 or 6, but his banter & dancing has earned him a 9.5 out of 10”