Tuesday 8th April 2014
—East Thurrock United 1 Margate FC 4—
After a hard-earned point against Bognor (where I was inundated with offers for a lift for the next away game – thanks especially to Harvey & Mel for kindly offering their services – although I was lucky enough to already have a lift with Chris, Wendy & Dave) Tuesday saw us pitted against struggling East Thurrock United, & the return of the superb banter between the trio.
It was a beautiful day as Dan & I made our way to Birchington, where after a brief chat about women & football (well, mostly football) we were soon picked up by Dave, and heading for Medway services where we were to meet Wendy & Chris.
Dave is always a pleasure to listen to, and a lot of the chat on the way up was Margate related, and focused around our guesses at who would be in the starting lineup that evening, as well as who we were hoping to come up from the divisions below (Guernsey being a clear favourite with us all!)
Before too long we were in Medway, and greeted by Wendy & Finney the dog – with Finney enjoying a rather large bone! After a brief catch up, where Wendy showed me her personalised Margate FC phone cover – (I wasn’t jealous at all, honest) our chat soon turned to the whereabouts of Chris, who was running late.
No sooner was his name mentioned, when Wendy’s phone rang (“Speak of the devil!” she exclaimed!) and Chris informed her that he’d be there around half 5 – cue much theatrical watch tapping from Dave when Chris arrived!
Owing to a pileup in the Dartford Tunnel, we had to take an alternative route, but that didn’t put a dampener on the banter in the slightest – being a gentleman, I felt I had to stick up for Wendy at certain points, which caused suspicious looks from both Dave & Chris, the latter remarking “We’ll have to beat the niceness out of this one, I reckon” – slightly worrying words, but I’m sure he meant it as a joke!
In any case, I urged Wendy to remember me as I am now – a friendly chap with dashing good looks & a distinct lack of Statler & Waldorf-ness (if that even qualifies as a word?)
Due to the excellent driving & direction teamwork of Chris & Wendy, we arrived in East Thurrock fairly early – which was time enough for Chris to grab a well deserved pint & lasagne at a rustic looking pub, while warning me about the state of East Thurrock’s ground – all this as I watched Dan flutter his eyelids at the barmaid – you old Casanova, you!
After a brief trip past a church & graveyard, we arrived at the ground which was definitely an unusual one, with two seperate stands behind one of the goals, and concrete backed up by grass at the other end – an odd mixture! A good gathering of Margate fans were in the overall attendance of 141 – I felt we definitely had between 40 & 50 there – and seeing the usual crowd there was a pleasure, none more so then Mel, who had bought her husband Steve & lucky mascot Larry Lemur to the game.
I always feel more confident when I see Larry at a game, not that I’m superstitious or anything! In the moments before kickoff, she informed me that she now had a bag & a lunchbox for Larry – which seemed to contain chocolate & sweets – this obviously being an excuse for Mel & her sweet tooth to indulge!
As the sides came out to generous applause & Mark Sandwell’s traditional booming “Come on Gate!” we made our way to one of the stands behind the goal. Kevin Holland was also in attendance, which was great for me, as he really does talk a good game – sadly, Gate started with all the speed & urgency of Rik Waller after demolishing a KFC Family Feast – some wayward finishing & wonder saves from Nikki Bull kept us on level terms, with the opposition even hitting the bar in the first ten minutes.
Terry Brown’s fury on the touchline was evident, as he went into what Terry Scott would call ‘dad manager mode’ – a yell of “Win your aerial battles” was shortly followed by “Don’t you dare look at me like that son, otherwise I’ll take you off right now” to the amusement of the crowd!
To say we were lucky not to be two or three goals down would be no exaggeration – thankfully the squad eventually found their feet, and with half an hour gone, Charlie Allen took the game by the scruff of the neck, taking charge of the ball & rifling an unstoppable shot past the incredibly young looking East Thurrock goalie.
As our attacking threat increased, we contrived to snatch a second on the stroke of halftime – a superb delivery from the cultured left foot of Sam Rents found the head of Mitchell Nelson, who headed past the stranded secondary school student – erm, I mean goalkeeper!
As the halftime whistle went, most Gate fans were wondering how in the world we’d gone in two goals to the good after being under the cosh for most of the first half – not that we were complaining, of course! I have to wonder if the East Thurrock fans were feeling the same about how the game had gone, and have to admit that my original blog title I had planned was going to be ‘Twilight Robbery’!
Luckily, within minutes of the restart, my somewhat pessimistic blog title was blown out of the water, as Margate scored two quick-fire goals early on to effectively end the game as a contest.
Those came through Anthony Riviere lashing home (to the ire of the East Thurrock number 4, who did a superb impression of a child having a temper tantrum, crossed with the Easter Bunny) and a tidy finish from Charlie Allen, after Jefferson Louis did well to head the ball back across into his path.
The game was still a great one to watch – a lot more relaxing, anyway! Margate could’ve, & perhaps should’ve had more, but after the first half battering we received, no-one was complaining!
East Thurrock grabbed a consolation after Charlie Wassmer was adjudged to have pulled back their attacker in the box – the clinical penalty leaving Nikki Bull with no chance, even though he went the right way – but the rest of the game revolved around us missing a few chances, along with youngsters Adam Cash & Sam Davies impressing when they came on as late substitutes.
As the final whistle went, I was very happy to get three points on a night that could’ve so easily gone the other way, as pointed out by Terry Brown in his post-match interview with Ryan Day, and an added bonus was that we did Enfield Town, as well as Wingate & Finchley a favour – two sides who I sincerely hope both stay up, owing to their quality fans.
After a brief hunt for Dan (I still maintain he was trying to get the barmaids number!) we eventually found him, and it was great to see him in an even more superb mood, as Chelsea had also won that evening.
The hero of the night (along with goalkeeper Nikki Bull of course) has to be the aforementioned Larry Lemur – whose away day record now reads as 3 games played, with 3 games won – all this with Margate scoring 10 in total, whilst conceding just 2. I can only hope Mel brings him to Carshalton & Hendon – the last two away games of the season.
I was lucky enough to get both a burger & backside review – although Wendy & Mel must’ve been channeling each others minds with their answers!
Dan’s Away Day Burger Review –
“It was a really nice burger, and the bun was nice too – I give it a 7 out of 10”
Mel & Wendy’s Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Couldn’t bring myself to rate it, as he looked about 12”! N/A
Looking at his photo (taken from East Thurrock’s website) Mel & Wendy may have a point…
I feel it’s only fair to finish this blog by including the highlights package of the game – if only for our goals & the East Thurrock defender’s Easter Bunny impression – which can be found around the 2:21 mark (all credit to Ryan Day & Gate Player)
We face Lewes at home this Saturday, followed by hosting champions-elect Wealdstone next Tuesday. Here’s hoping we can finish the season with a flourish, whilst avoiding this menace to society!