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The Art Of Winning Ugly

Tuesday 9th September 2014

—Margate FC 2 Witham Town 1—

The most fitting way I can describe the last two games, comes courtesy of a quote from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (who seems to be looking more and more like Swiss Toni of the Fast Show fame as time goes by!)

"Managing a football team, is very much like making love to a beautiful woman..."

“Managing a football team, is very much like making love to a beautiful woman…”

Swiss Toni

Swiss Toni

He once said that “If you eat caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to sausages”.

Not to drum home the point too finely, but I’d definitely say our two 5-1 victories over Billericay and Lewes have been the caviar performances, and although we’ve had a slight blip (if you can call drawing with a well-drilled Leiston side & being unlucky enough to lose with the last kick of the game against Dulwich Hamlet, who are a superb footballing side themselves, a blip) it’s definitely pleasing to see Margate pull together and return to winning ways, even if the performances have been somewhat sausage-like!

Last Saturday was definitely a day to remember – foolishly believing I could lug Gary Gator on a roasting morning was a mistake though, although thankfully Dan Boyle saw me huffing and puffing, and ordered us a cab to Hartsdown Park – a true gent!

Ted Pittman was good enough to allow Gary his own seat for the journey, and as we set off for the early kick-off in Essex, talk turned to familiar matters.

As Dan perused my copy of FHM (just to clarify – it isn’t a dodgy magazine!) Steve Furlong decided to play matchmaker once again for the physio-loving lothario (I’m expecting to see Steve hosting Take Me Out or Blind Date any day now!)

Various possibilities were mooted, but sadly Dan declined all offers – even an old flame of mine in Ramsgate (which is quite an appropriate phrase, seeing as she’d probably set my place alight, given half the chance!)

But I digress.

Dan was content to take whatever life threw at him, whether it be local singers, female physios or Margate ladies’ team members, and closed the subject by kindly passing his Haribos around.

As the journey continued, the other highlights were Andrew Ganderton expressing his opinion that there was an actual person inside Gary Gator, and Terry’s son Arthur challenging me to beat his high score on the Nokia Snake game – I’d like to say I gave him a run for his money, but I hadn’t played it for ages (Well, that was my excuse anyway!)

We reached Hornchurch in what seemed like no time at all, and after picking up a programme (which I later managed to leave on the train back – Mr Forgetful here!) Terry & I left Gary Gator plonked on the nearest seat, and while the good lady retired for a beer and a hot dog (accompanied by some superb banter from Rick, I’m saying no more!) I wandered round the stadium, doing my pre-match geekery routine of taking photos.

It was almost like doing a lap of the track at Sports Day, in fairness – although sadly on this visit, coach Simon Pridmore didn’t do his Usain Bolt impression, this time round!

Gator at the Turnstiles!

Gator at the Turnstiles!

Egg & Spoon race, anyone?

Egg & Spoon race, anyone?

 

When I got back from my wanderings, I bumped into Annie from the Hornchurch forum, and exchanged cheerful hellos, before noticing that Gary Gator had already found himself a fan club, courtesy of a mum and her young son, who enjoyed taking photos of him – thankfully, fame hasn’t gone to Gary’s head just yet!

Before the game kicked off, Jim worryingly chose to use me as a visual guide to how Lewis Taylor broke his cheekbone against Dulwich – although I’m thankful to say he stopped short of elbowing me in the face! I also bored all and sundry with the fact that I’d been in the same school class as Hornchurch’s number 8, Tom Davis.

Kick-off arrived, and sadly Margate started with all the speed and tenacity of myself after a Doner Kebab – if this wasn’t bad enough, we had a few Hornchurch fans feeling the need to criticise our support and indulge in the ‘moneybags’ jibes – to be fair, this atmosphere wasn’t helped by me asking one of the men if they were on crack, after he applauded one of the many nonsensical decisions from the referee.

Thankfully, this didn’t go any further – next time I’ll do the right thing like Terry did, and simply walk away.

Presumably getting a rollicking from Terry Brown helped the players in the second half, as Gate started with a lot more purpose. In truth, Hornchurch had a few chances throughout the game too, seeing a goalbound shot blocked by their own man, and hitting the post.

Lewis Taylor gave us (and the Margate dugout) something to cheer about, by curling home a delightful effort after a clearance hit Charlie Allen and fell well for him, and Jason Prior notched his first goal for the club, with a well-placed strike late on, to seal a 2-0 win.

(While on the subject of goalscoring, I must say congratulations to Martin and Jo’s son Jack – who notched 5 goals in a 6-3 win in Margate U8’s game against Herne Bay Harriers – terrific stuff, mate!)

This never fails to make me smile! (All credit to Don Walker for this superb photo)

This never fails to make me smile! (All credit to Don Walker for this superb photo)

Walking out of the ground, the Hornchurch fans were all smiles as they graciously wished us the best for the season – and I was pleased to see them earn their first win at VCD last night – I can’t see them staying at the lower ends of the table for too much longer.

It was a contented coach journey back (despite Steve heartbreakingly losing his accumalator in the 90th minute) and even my disappointment at losing my programme on the train home didn’t dampen my spirit – apparently, this was the first time that we’d beaten Hornchurch at their ground.

And so to Tuesday night, where we took on newly promoted Witham Town. I learnt from past mistakes and took Gary Gator in the cab, although his presence seemed to unnerve the driver, as he decided to take me on a scenic route of St Peters and Cliftonville, before eventually arriving at Hartsdown Park.

Catching up with Fraser and Frankie was a pleasure, as was meeting up with Mel, Steve & his daughter Yasmin – who Dan charmed into the obligatory post-match photo (you smooth talker, you!) Ivesy couldn’t resist photobombing, but that made it an even cooler picture, in my eyes.

Smooth Operator!

Smooth Operator!

Game-wise, Margate couldn’t have started better – a strike by Luke Williams was parried out by the friendly Witham custodian (who had to put up with being called Chico all night!) and Ryan Moss slotted in the rebound.

Although defensively, Witham looked frail, they were a very pacy, counter-attacking side, and I thought their left winger was superb – a thorn in our side all game! Thankfully our lead was doubled, as Tom Phipp seemed to get a touch on a goalbound strike from Zac Attwood, and for the most part, Margate looked fairly comfortable.

Unfortunately, some injuries were picked up, which knocked us out of our stride a bit, and in between talking to Beth Marshall (who had made a heroic dash to the fives pitch to pick up some tracksuits for the Margate mascots – it was a bit chilly!) Witham pulled a goal back on the hour mark, their striker crashing an unstoppable volley past this month’s Ryman Golden Gloves winner, Nikki Bull, which made the last half hour a slightly tense one!

I felt Witham put in a good performance and could consider themselves unlucky not to gain a point – although thankfully our defence held strong, along with some superb saves by Nikki Bull – three points well earned, ahead of our trip to Folkestone Invicta in the FA Cup this weekend.

Rick Simmons was kind enough to organise a car pool for this game, and the club came up trumps in the end by offering coach travel for £5 – needless to say, thanks to Rick & the clubs generosity, I don’t think travel should be a problem!

Here’s hoping for a good result at the Fullicks Stadium, before Tuesday night sees us travel to North London, where we face Enfield Town – the games really are starting to come thick and fast!

Terry, Mel & Beth’s Away Keeper Arse-O-Meter

I was lucky enough to have Terry, Mel and Beth all give their views on the derriere of the Witham custodian (who definitely wasn’t called Chico and had superb banter throughout the game) their marks varied from a 6 to an 8, although they unanimously agreed that his banter pushed him up to full marks – giving him a 10 out of 10 on the Arse-O-Meter scale.

Post-match, Larry Lemur and Mel came into their own with their backing of the ‘Ryan Moss / #FearTheBeard’ campaign – the results of which are displayed below.

All I can say is, roll on Saturday.

Up The Gate!

#FearTheBeard

#FearTheBeard

#FearThe Beard / #CousinIt

#FearThe Beard / #CousinIt

Charlie Allen, is that you?

Charlie Allen, is that you?