Gary, Glory & Ivesy’s Beach Ball
Saturday 2nd August 2014
—Ramsgate 1 Margate FC 3—
I’ve got to say how much I enjoy living in Thanet. On a sunny Saturday morning, people here must be spoilt for choice in terms of what to do – a leisurely stroll down to the nearest beach, having a cup of tea & taking in the sights of the promenade – or in my case, travelling to Terry’s to help put some goalkeeper gloves on her mascot masterpiece – Gary Gator.
I’m proud to announce that due to Terry’s hard work, perseverance, & prodigious skill in putting Gary together, we’re bucking the trend by having a non-inflatable mascot for the coming season.
As Terry & myself made our way to Margate station, Terry showed me that there was an art to carrying Gary – which basically consists of piggybacking the gator, as you would a small child.
The expressions from passing motorists were a joy to behold, and various people (including several young children) all seemed genuinely interested in Gary’s origins – Terry was only too delighted to explain how he came about!
Before long, us ‘estuary side’ dwellers were on the train to ‘the beautiful south-side of the island’ as stated on Ramsgate’s match preview & subsequent report.
It has to be said that we enjoyed the short train journey, although none more so than Gary, who was happy to pose for a picture with his beaming creator.
Stifling our sniggers at how real Gary looked sat on the seat (we lost count of the amount of times we were asked if there was an actual person inside there) we then made our way out of the station, before making the short walk to Southwood.
Unbeknown to us, the Thanet Cup was also enjoying a good journey, while being well supervised by Ivesy.
This journey is documented below, and is a bittersweet tale of lost love, hardship & triumph in the face of adversity (well, maybe not, but it’s still worth a look – Ivesy really is a legend!)
On our arrival at Southwood (or Deadwood, as it’s popularly & accurately known!) Gary immediately encountered various Gate fans, who were enjoying a drink outside the Ramsgate bar – Harvey, Andy Payne, Ivesy, Stu, Beth & her boys being amongst the admiring crowd.
As I was wilting in the heat (I’m not sure how, as Terry was kind enough to insist on carrying Gary on the way up to Southwood!) Ivesy & Stu decided to take him under their wing – rather predictably, this is what happened.
A source of consternation amongst many Gate fans (well, mainly Stu) was the £9 entrance fee – understandable really, as Ramsgate had charged £5 for their previous friendlies.
In my second criminal act of the day (having already bunked the train to Ramsgate – a true rebel without a cause!) I adopted my meekest voice & asked the chap at the turnstiles for a concession ticket – no questions asked, and a £5 entry! It might’ve helped looking like a Backstreet Boy, as Ivesy later pointed out.
Buying a programme & making my way to the covered area for some shade, I was lucky enough to catch up with Dan, the sun bringing out his blonde highlights, as well as Steve & Grant.
A little while later, many other Gate fans walked into the ground, Gary Gator looking blearily around while being supported by Terry, and muttering “Do you know who I am?” as well as “You looking at my wife?” – I don’t think he handled his beer particularly well!
Luckily, Ivesy defused the situation by proudly showing us his beach ball, which was to prove incredibly useful throughout the game, as the players took their drink breaks.
Before long, the players walked out – (Margate fresh from a superb 2-1 win over Conference side Barnet in mid-week) sadly, the rather portly Ramsgate keeper was on the bench, having injured his back – so the Rams fielded Nick Shaw – an ex-Whitstable player, as Alan informed me.
As soon as the game started, you could tell Ramsgate were out of their depth – Margate deploying a superb brand of quick-moving, passing football, with the odd bit of skill thrown in as well.
I’m not the best at goal analysis, so I was very lucky that David Pittman had recorded them – without wanting to spoil anyone’s enjoyment, the videos speak for themselves.
Margate found themselves 3-0 up in half an hour – the goals being scored by Luke Williams, Luke Moore & a thunderbolt of a strike from Lewis Taylor – which happened as the Gate faithful were serenading chairman Bob Laslett with a by now traditional chorus of ‘Super Bob’ – to say he was happy at the third goal was an understatement!
*All credit to David Pittman for the videos of the Margate goals – he also captured the Super Bob chant in all its glory!*
As the first half wound down, much fun was had by the Gate faithful, whether it was greeting each Margate pass with ‘Ole’ or enjoying some beach ball related fun – which also enjoyed the ‘Ole’ treatment!
Sadly, our fun was curtailed briefly near half-time, as the beach ball went onto the pitch – stopping short of a Darren Bent-related incident, it merely consoled itself with a view from behind the goal.
As a brief chant of ‘Martin, Martin get the ball’ arose, I decided to oblige – unfortunately, my lack of athleticism was exposed, as I didn’t quite manage to vault the barrier!
An elderly steward took pity on my plight though, and handed us back the beach ball as the half time whistle blew.
Terry and myself then carried Gary Gator over to the other end of the pitch, before I realised that we hadn’t put our flag up! Luckily, Terry was kind enough to help, (Gary gazing at me with a malevolent look in his eyes)
In truth, the second half was a bit of a non-event, with Margate enjoying the luxury of being able to knock the ball about and relax for the remainder of the half.
Naturally, this led on to more beach ball kicking antics, before a young chap with a terrific left foot on him (no, not me) accidentally kicked the ball over the fence into a neighbouring garden.
Sadly, the days of knocking at someone’s door & enquiring “Could we have our ball back please?” are long gone, so a friend of Stu’s managed to hop over the fence & retrieve the beach ball.
In the ball’s absence, I fell victim to Ivesy’s paparazzi skills, which might explain why this photo is currently circulating on Facebook.
In fairness to Ivesy, who might’ve been slightly hammered by this point (although not to the extent of Gary Gator, who spent the second half slumped in a drunken stupor) he made an observation that I could well be a fashionista, which I genuinely appreciated!
Ramsgate did pull a goal back towards the end of the game, but Margate held on for the win more than comfortably, to retain the Thanet Cup.
The celebrations continued in the Ramsgate bar, as Ryan Day took this superb picture of chairman Bob Laslett holding the Thanet Cup along with some Gate fans, Dan Boyle & Ivesy’s Beach Ball being amongst them! (shame on the chap attempting to set the beach ball alight – bit harsh!)
In my last blog, I unfortunately let Sarah Egan down, in terms of the Burger Review – I can only apologise for my goldfish memory!
Luckily enough though, on being reminded by Ivesy, we were able to track down Dan Boyle & ask for his opinion on the new-look burgers that are being rustled up at Hartsdown Park this season.
Dan closed his eyes for a moment, in fond remembrance of the burger, and upon re-opening them, he said “It was amazing. Much, much better than last season – a definite 9 out of 10”
Again, I can only offer my apologies to Sarah – Ivesy & Dan really saved the day, there! (Not to mention the beach ball!)
With so many different foodstuffs on the menu at Hartsdown Park these days, it’d be a crime not to review them all – I’m hoping to have some help with this – the Chicken Balti slices look well worth trying, for starters!
Margate’s Ryman League campaign kicks off next Saturday against Hampton & Richmond – here’s hoping for a flying start & a great season ahead.
I’m sure there’ll be some ups & downs – as there is in any football season, but as long as we all take the good with the bad & keep our feet on the ground, I feel confident that it’ll be a successful campaign.
So win or lose, let’s get behind the team, and cheer Margate FC onto greater things.
Up The Gate!