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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Men of Kent beat Kentish Men

Sporting Club Thamesmead
Following the midweek postponement of Maidenhead United's fixture against Farceborough, I was struggling for replacement entertainment with an invitation to play cricket falling foul of the weather and a late check for seats at Craven Cottage revealing only options which were not undercover but definitely overpriced, so I decided to head for a part of London with which I was unfamiliar to watch the Isthmian Premier Division match between Thamesmead Town and Margate.
View from the stand
Arriving at Woolwich Arsenal via the Docklands Light Railway I walked past the former entrance to the Royal Arsenal en route to the bus stop. This was appropriate as it was on the former Arsenal firing range that the modern post war suburb of Thamesmead was built. My destination became recognisable when I saw the flats featured in Stanley Kubrick's notorious film adaptaion of Anthony Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange.
However thoughts of ultraviolence faded and as I alighted from the bus and wandered up Bayliss Avenue to the ground entrance in surroundings more reminiscent of Brookside. The brand new development known as Sporting Club Thamesmead soon came into view. This consisted of an artificial pitch and other leisure facilities with the building topped by a stand facing onto the Thamesmead Town pitch.
Entry was £10 with £2 for an excellent programme, the same as charged at Maidenhead United. This was the third home game of the campaign so with a season's best attendance of 94 mainly consisting of Margate's travelling contingent clearly a lot of marketing needs to be done to make the club viable at this level. With a fair sized local population isolated by unsympathetic roadways surely the best way to boost these paltry crowds is reduce prices?
Margate free kick with a backdrop of the Eastern way
The keynote element of the development, the stand also revealed a major flaw as two of the three rows of seats got soaked in the rain that persisted all afternoon. At least a standing area behind the seats was provided, an option that is being considered as part of the development of the new stand at York Road.
The all Kent clash provided something of a David and Goliath affair with Margate's men of Kent featuring virtually an all ex Conference South line up most notably including last season's title winner at Welling Scott Kinch, whilst John Scarborough aside Thamesmead's team belied its lowly origins.
Whilst Sussex might be my favourite football county for the nature of its grounds, Kent have the history and tradition, and it looks like Margate are shaping up for another tilt at a return to the Conference South after last season's effort was derailed by manager Chris Kinnear leaving for rivals Dover in January. He was replaced rather unusually by goalkeeper Craig Holloway who is still in his 20s, ably assisted by veteran Simon Osborn. 
Certainly Margate showed their superiority in the final result of 2-0 but the wet conditions helped Thamesmead to make a real fight of the game, the points only being sealed in stoppage time. With both teams opting to line up in 4-4-2 formation there was an element of cancelling each other out which once the rain had slowed the game down and the referee made it clear he was not going to let play flow, meant it was hardly a classic game to watch.
Margate attacked with much more incisiveness and were frequently denied by man of the match, goalkeeper Rob Budd. Thamesmead although enjoying long periods of pressure in the second half had a significant lack of quality and pace up front, striker Michael Power resembling a taller version of Lee Devonshire. Perhaps their best chance of a goal came in the opening minutes when an innovative corner kick routine reminiscent of George Graham's Arsenal, led to a headed clearance off the line by Kinch. This was quickly followed by Margate's first goal, a doubly deflected Phil Walsh strike.
Thamesmead first half corner
Unlike other local games at Charlton and Thurrock there was no chance of the game being interrupted by the at times torrential rain. Despite the Thames being just a short walk way there did not appear to be so much as a puddle on the pitch. 
Thamesmead second half pressure
Extra pace in the form of substitutes Lanre Azeez and Warren Whitely ensured Margate maintained their attacking threat and indeed it was the former who confirmed the result deep into stoppage time with virtually the last action of the game.

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