Hoof & A Header
Saturday 19th July 2014
—Dover Athletic 1 Margate FC 0—
After the superb performance & victory over AFC Wimbledon, chairman Bob Laslett was kind enough to pay for a coach to take the Margate faithful to the next friendly, which saw Gate pit their wits against long-time rivals Dover Athletic, who were recently promoted to the Conference Premier after winning their all-Kent affair against Ebbsfleet United in the playoff final.
In regards to our own season, the Ryman League fixtures were released last Thursday – in a reversal of last season, our opening game sees us play Hampton & Richmond once again – except this time we start off at Hartsdown Park, rather than the Beveree.
To my immense relief & satisfaction, we escaped the joys of visiting Maidstone over the Christmas period – with an away game at Tonbridge Angels and a home fixture against Lewes to see in the New Year.
Our last game of the season pits us against Bognor at Nyewood Lane, and here’s hoping it’ll be a celebratory weekender! Even if it isn’t, I’m sure the travelling Gate fans will have a brilliant time regardless.
My Saturday morning consisted of making my way to Terry’s, in order to help her with the new mascot, that will no doubt be attracting some strange looks next season!
On a serious note though, I’d like to thank Terry for all her help with the aforementioned mascot, and her son Arthur, who was kind enough to give me a blue & white loom bracelet (Margate colours!) that I’ll be proudly be wearing this season.
With a lot of speculation about the weather (thunderstorms & torrential rain were a possibility) I can only say that we were fortunate to escape all that – it was truly a sweltering day, as we made our way to Hartsdown Park.
There was a brilliant turn out of fans for the coach – well over 40 people, & with others making their way up by car, I later found out via the Margate website that over 100 Gate fans attended the game – a superb effort by all involved.
Getting onto the coach, it really did feel like a class above – it even had air con too, which was definitely welcome in the heat of the day! After the essential business had been dealt with (Stu & Terry helping to put the MFC flag on the coach window) we settled down for the relatively short journey to Crabble.
I was lucky enough to sit next to Jake, who I really enjoyed catching up with – although sadly he was corrupted mid-journey by Terry, who informed him about the Llama Song incident of last season, which the terrible two decided to torment me with for the remainder of the trip.
Terry was also kind enough to point out various livestock in the fields en route, which thankfully didn’t include any llamas!
As we approached Dover, Stu took over my mantle of ‘Father Dougal’ for the day, by trying to guess international registration plates on vehicles – how he ended up guessing that one lorry was from New Zealand was beyond me, but it definitely left everyone amused!
On arrival at Dover, we had the joys of walking up a giant hill – we did contemplate ‘borrowing’ a golf buggy to aid our progress, but sadly, these plans didn’t come to fruition.
As we walked into the ground, there seemed like a sparse attendance of Dover fans – occasionally we’d see a confused looking chap wearing a bright pink Dover away shirt, but for the most part, the ground seemed pretty empty – I have to say that Margate did themselves proud with the amount of fans that made the trip though!
We were lucky enough to have the delightful Ivesy asking if we enjoyed our trip on the coach, and if there was any window licking involved – although a golden moment was soon to follow shortly after, as Arthur enquired if the SW on Winkle’s training kit stood for ‘Super Winkle’ – a question Winkle looked pretty chuffed about!
Looking at Twitter, Margate had named quite a strong squad, even though we were slightly under-strength (missing our first choice full-backs, as well as a few other players, including the prolific Ryan Moss)
Dover named a strong lineup as well, and before long, we were underway.
Margate started like a team on a mission, it must be said – our crisp passing & movement leaving the Dover side chasing shadows for the most part – the Conference side seeming content to soak up the pressure & hoof the ball upfield.
Anthony Riviere – who was filling in at right back – was hustling & harrying the Dover attack, and there were a lot of times when our attacking play forced Dover into various errors.
The only thing I felt we were lacking was in the final third – we didn’t really test their keeper enough, and although Nikki Bull had to tip over a dangerous header just before half time, I think it’s fair to say that Margate were much the better of the two sides – this being shown by the generous applause the players received from the Gate fans as they made their way into the changing rooms at the break.
As we made our way to the slightly more shaded area of the ground, I was lucky enough to have Beth help me with the MFC flag positioning, before Tom decided to run through the flag, in a style befitting of the bull / matador scenarios in Spain! He soon tired of this however, and settled for nicking my cap from my head & making a dash along the terraces, which left everyone in hysterics!
As the second half went by, a draw really would have been a fair result – although Dover did look slightly more menacing, once they had brought some fresh subs on – in turn, Margate gave run-outs to trialists Omari Patrick (who, we decided for some unknown reason, was of Irish persuasion) and a chap called Steff Hayles, who could’ve been a long-lost relation to ex-Fulham striker Barry – who knows?
Bob Laslett also found his way to the Gate fans for the second half, and politely declined another serenade of ‘Super Bob’ – beaming from ear to ear, and stating that we were only allowed to do that if we were winning – I have to say that’s a fair point!
Our ex-manager Chris Kinnear, dressed for a holiday in the Seychelles (on the sea shore), didn’t seem too impressed by his sides display, although they did score with a header, late on – this sparked the Dover fans into life (in truth, we’d forgotten they’d existed) and prompted their defence into a bit of time-wasting before the final whistle blew.
It might sound cliched, but in truth, our performance was something to be really proud of – it can only bode well for the season ahead, making a Conference side look ordinary after comfortably seeing off a League Two side – and no-one was prouder than Frankie’s son Tom, who threw caution to the wind & staged a one-man pitch invasion!
Beth’s son managed to rescue him just before he reached the halfway line, and it definitely bought a smile to all our faces, as we trooped out of the ground and back down the hill.
Despite the result, it was a really cheerful journey back to Thanet, despite our necks aching slightly due to Dover’s style of play (hence the title of this blog – many thanks to Beth Marshall for her suggestion!) – highlights included hearing an array of Frankie’s cheesy jokes that I’m hoping to use for future reference, having my slightly melted packet of Revels devoured by the back seat brigade (although thoughtfully, they did save me the last one!) and Stu corrupting Tom into giving Frankie a slap in the mouth – all this before Katie’s daughter decided to twirl a pair of knickers around!
All in all, it was a great day out, and thanks must go to Bob Laslett & Alistair Bayliss for their generosity & hospitality – it really was gratefully received – again, many thanks to them both.
Our next game takes us to Folkestone’s Fullicks Stadium tomorrow night, before facing Wolves at Hartsdown Park this Friday, in another evening kick-off. Times couldn’t get any more exciting!
Tickets for the Wolves game are still available online, so if you’ve not yet made the pilgrimage to Hartsdown Park to watch the new-look Margate FC in action, I really do recommend getting involved, in what is an exciting time for the club & Margate in general. With tickets ranging from £8 for adults, £5 for concessions, & £3 for children under 18, the prices really are a bargain too.
I’m already looking forward to another exciting week, and it’s still only pre-season!
Here’s hoping for a successful season ahead.
Up The Gate!
*As always, I’ll be ending this blog with Terry & Mel’s Keeper Arse-O-Meter, and the delights of Mel’s Burger & Chips Review as well*
Terry & Mel’s Keeper Arse-O-Meter –
“Just a 6 – nothing special, & too far away for any banter. 6 out of 10”
Mel’s Burger & Chips Review –
“Not a bad burger – 6 out of 10 – the chips were definitely better though, so they get an 8 out of 10”
NB: Ted Pittman also reviewed a Cornish Pasty – which sadly lost points due to it containing carrots.