Monday 21st April 2014
—Margate FC 5 Cray Wanderers 0—
Being a part-time insomniac & writing this at 4:45 in the morning, it was hard to think of a title to describe a brilliant day with – so I decided to settle for a score based / fruit juice pun – I can only apologise!
Waking up to a sunny day & knowing you’re going to a Margate FC game later is surely one of the best feelings in life. Although a long hard season saw the demise of three inflatable mascots and too many celebratory / commiseratory kebabs to count, things continue to look up, the further we go under the management of Terry Brown.
Although the squad has been like a revolving door (I can only count three players from this seasons team photo that haven’t left, whether permanently or on loan) the players that have been brought in have shown their quality in Margate’s colours.
One old face that is still here is Stu – and as we walked up to Hartsdown Park, he regaled me with stories about pub brawls (and I thought the Vale Tavern was such a nice place, too!) not to mention his views on cyclists (he doesn’t seem to like them much)
On the final leg of our journey, we were lucky enough to bump into a face that Stu knew, who gave us a lift to the ground – he just so happened to be the dad of Margate U21 goalkeeper Aaron Kilbourn. Although I didn’t catch his name, Aaron’s dad was a real gent, and most of the chat was Margate related as he drove.
Thanking him for the lift & walking to the turnstiles, we were greeted by the sight of a beaming Terry, who was waiting for Arthur.
No sooner had she uttered those words, than a figure was spotted running up towards the ground – by the speed that he was running by, I silently wondered if we were going to be joined at the game by the Road Runner (meep meep!) or Usain Bolt – however, this turned out to be Arthur, who greeted us without a hint of breathlessness that made me wonder if he had three lungs – Margate’s answer to Gareth Bale!
Walking into the ground & catching up with Dave & Harvey was a pleasure as always, before getting a programme and a SuperDraw ticket from Cliff (One of these days I’ll win something!)
With it being a roasting day, staying in the cool bar was a relief – I also got to catch up with Dan, still in a terrific mood after our 6-0 drubbing of Carshalton a few days previously. Sadly, his cat-like reflexes weren’t evident on this occasion, as Sarah nipped in and nicked one of his chips before he could even blink!
Before long, Mel turned up with Larry The Lemur in tow – who it must be said, has let fame go to his head somewhat. After adopting a surly & pretentious attitude, whilst declining all autograph requests, he then proceeded to drink himself into a stupor – I can only hope that he got home OK & that his hangover isn’t too bad this morning!
After that, the faces came thick & fast, with Rick, Jim, Mark, Christian & the Mini Shark Lads all walking in (Jordy still quoting various lines from Mike Bassett: England Manager – I can only apologise for encouraging this)
In truth, the time before the match seemed to fly by, and we walked out just before the players did – sadly, there were no songs played on the PA system, so the Choir & Mini Shark lads gave a spirited rendition of ‘Singing The Blues’ before Dom pointed out that we were hopelessly out of tune, thus dashing any hopes for a successful appearance on X-Factor in the future.
In truth, the game was very scrappy to begin with – Cray seeming content to hoof the ball upfield & as far away from their goal as possible (in truth, this was probably the best policy, the relegated side having conceded over 130 goals this season) – however, the game was sparked into life by defender Sam Rents.
After Margate won a free kick not far outside the area, as a fellow keeper, Stu mentioned to Cray custodian Darren Behcet that this would be curled in the top left hand corner. Sadly, this advice was unheeded and Behcet could only watch and admire as the cultured left foot of Rents bent the ball home, giving the keeper no chance.
The traditional celebratory Poznan followed, but the half seemed to peter out somewhat, with a typical end of season feel to the contest.The main highlight of the first half was Darren Behcet’s superb banter with the Margate crowd, after being ribbed for having pink boots, he laughed & jokingly informed us that they were a gift from his Nan.
At the break, Gate went in 1-0 up, and as at East Thurrock & Carshalton recently, the second half was one to savour.
The ever-superb Bods got his name on the scoresheet early in the second half, sliding a through ball past Behcet, to both Bods & his team-mates delight.
Jack Sammoutis saw a couple of chances saved, & there was even time for some managerial advice from Terry Brown (“Get the ball on the deck & play some bloody football!”) before the moment that made my day arrived.
Over the last month or so, Charles Ademeno has been on top form, and showing us all his early-season promise. His effort at Carshalton last week was phenomenal, where he produced the game of his life.
Not wanting his efforts to go unnoticed, he was having his name sung at every available moment – something he seemed to like, as he urged us on from a corner!
As a through ball from his strike partner Jefferson Louis once again split the Cray defence, Charles ran through & showed great strength to hold off his defender, before calmly slotting the ball in.
If we were delighted by this, it was nothing to how Charles felt, treating us all to high-fives and being serenaded once again as he celebrated with his team-mates.
Spirits were high within the crowd, and this was demonstrated by asking all members of the Margate bench (all subs, Terry Brown, assistant manager Stuart Cash, coach Simon Pridmore & kit-man Winkle) to give us a wave, to which they all gracefully responded.
As a dillusioned Behcet rolled his eyes to the sky and asked us how long was left, Bods continued his usual routine of tormenting opposition full-backs, curling in a delicious cross which was headed in by the prolific Charlie Allen, who has been a class apart for us.
The conversation with Darren soon turned to Nando’s, although he remarked that in his present mood, he’d take anything from Lidl’s – his banter throughout the game had been superb, & he got a hearty round of ‘Super Darren Behcet’ from us all.
Sadly for the Cray keeper though, his nightmare wasn’t yet over – as after teasing a couple more hapless Cray defenders for good measure, Bods once again swung in a terrific ball which was gleefully headed home by Jefferson Louis, to complete the scoring.
At the final whistle, the squad came over & clapped the Margate faithful – they really had put on a performance that was enjoyed by all & sundry.
Better yet was to come, as I fulfilled a personal dream by slotting home a penalty on the Hartsdown Park pitch (sorry Ivesy!) before joining everyone else in the bar as Ryan Day compered the Presentation Awards.
First up was Bob Laslett, who outlined his vision for next season – which was simply that he wanted promotion.
He then thanked everyone from the playing staff to the fans, and paid tribute to so many of the hard working people at Margate Football Club – their efforts being honoured with champagne & flowers, which I thought was a great touch.
Before long, Terry took to the stage to give us his thanks, as well as his playing squad – next season will definitely be one to look forward to!
The presentations then followed, with Matt Bodkin deservedly scooping the Supporter’s Player & Player’s Player of the Year awards – although I have to confess to voting for Jack Sammoutis, who had also shone throughout the season, Bods’ awards were well deserved, and I felt Mark Sandwell summed things up best on Facebook, with this post –
‘Its very reassuring that Matt also got the players vote for player of the season, shows how much they think he’s the player they want to see on the pitch, i think that helps justify the supporters affection for him. Be nice to see him get a two year contract…’
Mark was full of wise words yesterday, as during his Supporters Awards speech (Supporter of the Year went to Paul Zanetti, and Unsung Hero went to Tam McKenna – both deservedly so) he said that we were all a family – I couldn’t agree more, & one thing I hope that doesn’t change is the family club spirit we have – although with the fans that go, I’m sure it’ll carry on – a truly great bunch of people that I’m honoured to know.
Possibly the most heart-warming part of the day was Winkle presenting Arthur with the match ball, which was duly borrowed by club captain Jamie Stuart – who had the ball autographed by the entire squad before returning it to Arthur.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank all the players that signed my matchday programme, as well as Terry Brown, Stuart Cash, & the most coveted signature of all from the legend that is Pridders – it really meant the world.
With one more game to go (away at Hendon) we are currently 13th with a +2 goals difference – although this may not sound like much, it’s a testament to how much we’ve improved under the leadership of Terry & Stuart – although I feel the best is yet to come next season!
As a wise man (well, Ronan Keating) once said – ‘Life is a rollercoaster, you just gotta ride it’ – I’m looking forward to the ride already.
Up The Gate!
Terry & Mel’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter
“A decent arse, scoring 8 – however his added banter pushed it up to a 10 out of 10”