The title ‘sorry season’ does not refer to the club’s chances going into this season but to a personal apology due regarding my last article. I apologise to any of the Margate FC family that I offended.
It was brought to my attention that a comment about Margate’s goalkeeper was out of line. I apologise to any reader that was offended but more importantly to Owen Kallmeier. I have the utmost respect for footballers at this level, who tirelessly balance their love of football with full- time jobs, family responsibilities, etc. All for their chance to don the blue and put on a spectacle worthy of entertaining a couple of hundred fans, it’s admirable. The players deserve to be supported not feel like they’re being slated.
I especially respect the goalkeepers at this wholesome level who often take pelters from away fans under the guise of “banter”. In the ill- fated 20/21 season, I heard jibes about away goalkeeper’s wives, body size, hairstyles, all sorts, along with the standard and ever-present classic of ‘yoursh*taaaaa’. At this level where the fans are so close to the goalkeepers, particularly at Hartsdown Park, the goalies and the fans can basically have a chat with each other, sometimes it’s a rather pleasant exchange, sometimes it’s not.
Without a doubt, the most memorable shout I’ve ever heard at a football match came last October at HDP. It was a chilly Tuesday night Margate welcomed some team in red as per. Margate had a corner and the keeper was being pressed by the attackers in the box and put his hands and arms in the air as keepers often do, there was a bit of hustle and bustle in the box the keeper kept his arms in the air. Then came the rather random aggressive shout of “put your hands down Su-Bo”. Su-Bo, to those unaware is a reference to a Britain’s Got Talent contestant of twelve years ago called Susan Boyle. I still to this day don’t understand the link between said away-keeper and the Scottish singer but it was memorable.
Regarding Margate’s Number 1 Kallmeier, I’ve been told by friends who were at the Whitstable game, a few days before the Thanet Trophy triumph, that Kallmeier’s athletic stop in the closing moments of the game was rather special. That impressive save alone was worth the trip up the coast. They also added that Kallmeier’s performance was practically the only highlight of what was quite a drab affair. So, I hold my hands up, “put your hands down Su-Bo”, and retract any negative comments, and wish
Margate’s new number 1 all the best for the successful season ahead. My intention with these articles was never to cause any upset but to celebrate the quirks of the non-league fan experience and ideally encourage others to get behind the gate or whatever their local team might be.
I didn’t think about footballers or representatives from the club reading these articles to be honest, but, of course, footballers are just ordinary people, who are no doubt interested in what people are saying about their performances even if it comes from those who simply aren’t qualified to do so, like me.
I certainly would have read a report of my finest footballing hour. Although those reports would have made for ego- bruising and rather painful reading, as my finest footballing hour came in secondary school, as captain of the football team. Now that sounds a bit braggy, doesn’t it? It’s not at all as I’m not referring to the high- flying A-team with the athletic teenagers and the kids who at the age of fourteen boasted a better beard than I’m capable of now. I’m not even referring to the B-team, no I was captain of a team so lacking in ability and athleticism, so tragic at the sport that we were all unfortunate enough to love that we were referred to as ‘the developmental squad’.
This basically meant, the PE teachers agreed “these lot are hopeless we can’t have them dilute the quality of the rest of the lads, let’s give them some bibs and a ball and put them in a corner somewhere”. So as I said I have absolutely no right to be criticising these players who achieved far more than me in the game and have excelled to don the blue of the gate. In fact I feel a bit like Piers Morgan after he had the cheek to have a pop at the great Olympian Simone Biles. I really don’t like feeling like Piers Morgan so I won’t be criticising anyone anytime soon.
Which is just as well as I don’t believe they’ll be much to criticise this season. The squad is capable, likeable and as the old cliche goes ‘a good mix of experience and youth’. This team has plenty of attacking edge which was apparent at the weekend as the play going forward was really exciting and effective. I think we’ll enjoy far from a sorry season here at HDP. In true ‘it’s coming home’ spirit I’ve seen enough to be convinced that Margate will run away with this league, perhaps without dropping a single point.
Realistically though it will be a tightly fought season at this premier level and whatever the outcome it will be full of memorable moments, and well worth being part of. As Margate’s 125th season dawns closer there’s never been a better time to join the ‘Gate’ – a special season ticket is available for just £125 at the moment.
If you’d like to know what you’re getting yourself in for before you commit then this weekend is a fine chance to do so as Hartsdown Park hosts Hythe Town FC. I’m genuinely gutted I can’t be there, which is a bit shocking, as to be in a state of anguish to be missing a pre-season Margate FC game is something I couldn’t have imagined a year or two ago.
But I warn you it’s addictive. Once you get a feel for the non-league nights, the lack of queues for the pints, the freedom to roam, the chants of the fans, the beat of the drum, who’ll never be able to go without. Forget the pampered premier league for a weekend and give your local team a chance down at Hartsdown Park.