Thursday 13th January 2005

The Kent Website
Supporting Kentish Football

Margate handed fourteen day "last chance saloon" reprieve

MARGATE have been handed a fourteen day "last chance saloon" reprieve by Thanet District Council, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Nationwide Conference South club have another stay of execution and have been given fourteen days to bring in surveyors reports to help prove their case for the stadium redevelopment plans -  with the council having a further fourteen days after that to consider those plans.

Supporters were in fine voice making their feelings known to councilors that the town needs a football club and Margate Football Club MUST survive.

Margate president Gordon Wallis, however, is hopeful the club can secure their future - at Hartsdown Park.

The club - currently groundsharing this season at Ashford Town's Homelands ground - spent two seasons playing at Dover Athletic but the financial burden playing away from Hartsdown Park is crippling the club, with gates dropping down to around the 200 mark.

Wallis admitted: "This time yesterday I had no hope.

"What we've been given this evening is the last chance, which has been made clear to us this evening.

"That fourteen days is fourteen days which we've got to use every day off.

"I am convinced that we can get together all that further information the local authority require for this scheme to go ahead."

The club has fallen on hard times after playing Conference football at Hartsdown Park in front of gates of 3,000.

"The football club had to involve itself in enormous financial cost playing away from Hartsdown Park in Dover and Ashford." Wallis added.

"That has caused us not to be able to strengthen the football playing side of the club because we felt we would be back at Hartsdown Park by now."

After joining Margate in May 1996 after a successful period at local rivals Dover Athletic - who themselves have just had their future secured by the takeover of former Margate man Jim Parmenter - Chris Kinnear has seen the good times and the bad at the club but received thanks from Wallis.

"I cannot say enough good about Chris Kinnear," he said.

"He has been unbelievable.  It is in some extent to think he has stayed with the club and supported us that everybody else can take encouragement from that."

Wallis admitted he was confident the club can return home and survive.

How can Thanet District Council live with themselves ending a football club that was founded in 1896-97 as an amateur club, playing friendly matches on school grounds, before working their way up to the pinnacle of non-league football in 2001 - the Nationwide Conference - before being made homeless and finished off by a council even though the club represents the town and it's local community that take pride in their football club.