415 people took the gamble that a trip to Hartsdown Park on the final Summer Bank Holiday Monday of the year was a worthwhile venture. The majority of that total came out in support of the mighty Margate, despite the Margate supporters club satirical poster which read “there are better ways to spend a bank holiday Monday”.
The words August bank holiday football stirs up images of vests, sombreros and fruity ciders… the reality was rain macs, woolly hats and watered down Fosters. The fans that had braved the inevitable and indecisive August clouds held a minute of applause in honour of Les Riggs, a former Margate legend (in every sense, football club and town ) who sadly passed last year.
The game began beneath the heavy grey clouds, the blues of Margate were on the back foot immediately from the golden wolves-esque clad Cray Wanderers. The side dressed in gold, looked golden and before the Margate faithful had time to say “their number 18 fills his kit out a bit doesn’t he?’’ Their number 18 had scored. A header from a corner expertly guided in from said number 18, a corner which was a little bit dubious as in the build-up Joe Anderson had received a poke in the eye which went unnoticed. However, that does not detract from the header itself nor the following twenty minutes of dominance from Cray.
The ball hit the back of the net and the announcer, the reliable and likeable Ryan Day’s voice, rang out over the PA system “The goal scorer for Cray Wanderers number 18 Danny Kedwell”. Which was greeted by a cheer by the small section of the 415 that had travelled in hope of seeing the gold kitted men reign supreme but for the Margate men the announcement was followed by an exhale and expletives. For one Margate man the announcement was met with a question “is that THE Danny Kedwell? The former Gillingham Kedwell?” the theory was confirmed by another Margate man then another added that he not only was THE Danny Kedwell but he was now the player-manager of Cray Wanderers.
Cray for the next twenty minutes dominated and made it look like it might have been a foolish decision to spend this bank holiday Monday at Hartsdown Park. As for Danny Kedwell he looked brilliant, a cut above like Wayne Rooney in MLS, or Lee Trundle at your kids’ Sunday morning match. He was excellent and bossed his team from the front, an imitating presence and one always blessed with space and time as all good players appear to be.
Margate won a free-kick just inside the Cray half that ultimately led to Blackman’s leaping header which produced a stunning save from the keeper. He was called into action again a few minutes later when the always lively Bessey broke through and drew another good save from the opposition keeper who was in a pinker shade of pink than pink itself.
It was in the period that followed that this marvellous midfield of Margate’s started to take hold of the game. From my novice understanding, it’s still so rare an occurrence for Margate fans to enjoy a midfield but in the brilliant Blackman and marvellous Montel we may be witnessing the most likeable and effective pivot HDP has seen for many years. It was a by-product of this midfield bossing that Vance Bola, a human-sized wrecking ball, a specimen in blue, turned from midfield and faced the defence. A fortunate ricochet off the defender, which happens at such regularity when Bola is on the ball that you can’t help but start to think that it might not be so lucky after all, said ricochet brought him some time and space. The ball sat a few metere into his stride and with blues players sprinting either side of him, things looked positive, then all of a sudden instead of spreading the play to one of the lung-busting wingers he lined himself up to hit it. Bola hit it, and it stayed hit.. a bullet.. what you might describe as a thunderb*stard came from Bola’s boot and the otherwise impressive keeper was beaten. 1-1.
For the remainder of the first half, Cray were the stronger of the sides and the battle between Montel and Kedwell made for fascinating viewing. Two players who fill out their shirts more than average but also have a superior touch to the average. Margate’s Pat Ohman was forced into a terrific stop before the half came to a close.
In the second half there was a general feeling of bank holiday fun, much at the expense of the away keeper. The Margate fans were in good spirits, watching an unbeaten side battling like warriors, a few half chances for Cray but overall it was a fair contest. Until Margate broke away on the break, shouts for a penalty didn’t convince the ref that the foul was that side of the 18-yard line. A free-kick was swatted away before it fell to Dan Thompson’s chest, before the ball could get close to the 3g turf Thompson offered an athletic right foot. Bang. Volley. 2-1.
The term ‘Scenes’ might be applied to the celebrations that ensued after Thompson’s volley.
The following six minutes were a tad nervy but the lads in blue put their bodies on the line and saw the game out to complete a terrific weekend for the team who had earned a point away at Cheshunt on Saturday. A late winner to extend the unbeaten start to the season made for the perfect bank holiday Monday, the mood inside Hartsdown Park was triumphant and despite the lack of sun, it was agreed Margate are shining.