Tuesday nights at Hartsdown Park are special, the beers taste sweeter, the drum sound is clearer, the trendy kit looks even cooler and when there is knockout football…. Well, you want to be there.
Tonight, football is back at the HDP in the form of the Kent Senior Cup. For some pessimists this may represent the last chance to look at the door before Omicron (the Pokemon-like variant) forces us into a festive lockdown, for optimists it may represent the start of a cutting race. glorious and memorable, for others like me it’s just an excuse for a few beers on weekdays.
According to manager Jay Saunders, The Gate didn’t stand a chance of losing the game at Horsham last weekend and it’s not the first time it has this season. The last time Margate played at home was on November 20, when Hartsdown Park performed on the stage of one of the lesser-known football derby days, not the most memorable nor the most entertaining, just like its namesake. Margate Vs Bognor Regis aka The Butlins Derby (sort of).
Bognor or Margate? It was a real choice that vacationers faced in the 60s and 70s, when the two seaside towns boasted of the seaside resorts of Butlins. That was a long time ago and Margate’s Butlins are long gone while Bognor’s ones are still going strong, but that probably wasn’t on the minds of players as they prepared for battle through an after -typically gray and dull mid November.
Bognor Regis entered the pitch with a white and green kit which saddened me as I felt a red coat tribute kit would have been appropriate. Margate saw some changes in the regular roster as Pat Ohman between the sticks left the club, in his place stood Ben Bridle-Card. Godo and Hatful came straight out of the traps and made themselves awkward for the boys of Bognor, combining well Hatful’s header was on target but the visiting keeper was not to be beaten.
It was a corner from Bognor that led to the first goal, a header from Craig Robson delighted the traveling fans. One of them donned a shimmering green hat and spent most of the game blowing his plastic horn. 1-0.
Margate bulldozer Bola threw his full weight and tried his best to create something, but the half ended with the same score. Overall half was pretty flat from the door, as flat as a clubhouse pint you might say. Margate 0 – 1 Bognor Régis.
The halftime queue for the hamburger van hadn’t gone out when Bognor’s midfielder Ashton Leigh fired an absolute rocket. Top trash cans as the mandem say. 2-0. Distant applause from visiting players and fans was greeted with growls of “oh for F…”.
With 50 minutes of play and 2-0 it seemed certain that Margate was out of the competition, this outside fan’s plastic horn sounded more annoying than ever and the anger among the faithful was getting rather loud. This mixture of second baseman and grunts acted as a catalyst. Margate came to life, a bit of tenacity and eagerness was suddenly there for everyone to see.
It was like someone had told the guys that it was actually drummer Terry Scott’s birthday, or that there was a bachelorette party of Margate fans in the stands here to watch them, though. that was not enough motivation. The Libertines performed later in the evening. It was clear that the guys in blue didn’t want to be sorry behind their shirt sponsor, so it was on.
An energetic and dynamic Margate saw Godo make a few fouls in and around the box, one of which saw a Greenhalgh curler almost nestle in the top corner. Greenhalgh delivers quality from set pieces and that’s exactly what saw Blackman lead Margate in the game. 1-2. The city may not have Butlins, but we were still very much into this party. It was a ‘time for heroes’ to quote one of the Libertine belts and Margate jumped into the fray. New signing Calvin Ekpiteta was almost that hero as he almost managed to get a share of the points with a header that was just on the wrong side of the crossbar. A strong late burst was not enough to score points on this occasion as the Butlins derby was won by the team with the Butlins.
HDP will have to become a 3G fortress again during the holiday season if the Gate is to remain in contention for the play-offs, but tonight. So switch to HDP for some midweek cutting action. Youth tickets are just £ 2 and a reduced price of £ 6 for adults.