Tuesday nights at Hartsdown Park are special, the beers taste sweeter, the bang of the drum sounds clearer, the trendy kit even looks cooler and when there’s knockout football being played…. well you want to be in attendance.
Tonight football has returned to HDP in the form of the Kent Senior Cup. To some pessimists this may represent the last chance to watch the Gate before Omicron (the variant that sounds like a Pokemon) forces us into a festive lockdown, to optimists this may represent the start of a glorious and memorable cup run, for others like myself it’s just an excuse for a few weekday beers.
The Gate were unlucky to lose the game away at Horsham at the weekend just gone according to Manager Jay Saunders and that’s not the first time that’s been the case this season. The last time Margate played at home was November 20 when Hartsdown Park played stage to one of the lesser known footballing derby days, not the most memorable nor the most entertaining much like its namesake. Margate Vs Bognor Regis aka The Butlins Derby (sort of).
Bognor or Margate? That was a genuine choice holiday makers used to face in the 60’s and 70’s when both seaside towns boasted Butlins resorts. That was a long time ago and Margate’s Butlins has long gone whereas Bognor’s is still going strong but that probably wasn’t in minds of the players as they prepared for battle on a typically grey and drab November afternoon.
Bognor Regis walked onto the pitch with a white and green kit, which saddened me as I felt a red coat tribute kit would have been fitting. Margate saw a few changes to the regular line up as Pat Ohman between the sticks has departed the club, in his place stood Ben Bridle-Card. Godo and Hatful came straight out the traps and made themselves a nuisance to the Bognor boys, combining nicely Hatful’s header was on target but the visiting keeper wasn’t to be beaten.
It was a Bognor corner that led to the opening goal, a header from Craig Robson delighted the traveling fans. One of whom donned a sparkly green hat and spent most of the game blowing his plastic horn. 1-0.
Margate’s bulldozer Bola threw his weight around and tried his best to create something but the half came to a close with the scoreline the same. Overall the half was pretty flat from the gate, as flat as a pint from the clubhouse you might say. Margate 0 – 1 Bognor Regis.
The half time queue for the burger van hadn’t died down when Bognor midfielder Ashton Leigh fired in an absolute rocket. Top bins as the mandem say. 2-0. The distant cheers of the visiting players, and fans was greeted by grumbles of “oh for F….”.
With 50 minutes played and 2-0 down it looked a certainty that Margate were out of the contest, the plastic horn of that away fan sounding more annoying than ever and the anger amongst the home faithful was getting rather vocal. That mix of second goal and grumbles acted as a catalyst. Margate came alive, a bit of tenacity and eagerness was all of a sudden there for all to see.
It was as if someone had told the lads that it was in fact drummer girl Terry Scott’s birthday, or that there was a stag do of Margate fans in the stands here to watch them, if that wasn’t motivation enough The Libertines were performing later in the evening. It was clear the lads in blue didn’t want to be a sorry second to their shirt sponsor, so it was game on.
A buzzy energetic Margate saw Godo draw a few fouls in and around the box, one of which saw a Greenhalgh curler almost nestle in the top corner. Greenhalgh does deliver quality from set pieces and it was exactly that that saw Blackman head Margate back into the game. 1-2. The town may not have a Butlins but we were still very much in this party. It was a ‘Time for Heroes’ to quote one of the Libertines’ belters and Margate threw themselves into the fray. New signing Calvin Ekpiteta was almost that hero as he so very nearly got the gate a share of the points with a header that was just the wrong side of the cross bar. A spirited late flurry wasn’t enough to secure any points on this occasion as the Butlins derby was won by the team with the Butlins.
HDP will need to return to being a 3g fortress through the festive period if the Gate are to stay in contention for the play-offs but tonight. So get down to HDP for some mid-week cup action. Tickets for youths are a mere £2 and a reduced rate of £6 for adults.