Wednesday 17th August 2005

Mitten: I want to get us out of this league


Margate make an emotional return to Hartsdown Park for the new season, full of hope for the future now that planning permission has been granted on the full development, writes Steve Wells www.margate-fc.com

The Blues open their first ever Ryman League Premier Division campaign with a visit from Essex side Maldon Town on Saturday.

For the Blues, the homecoming will doubtless be a special occasion. To play in front of home fans in the club’s home town is something only a select few of the Margate squad will have experienced before.

Gate’s capitulation at the end of last season is well documented. Any side that takes just five from a possible 30 points is clearly struggling – and the Blues were. It is clear though that events away from the pitch had a massive impact on the players, and given the nature of such uncertainty, they can hardly take all the blame.

For the second season running and following a drop down a level, Margate have lost key players – particularly in striker Che Stadhart and midfielder Adrian Clarke – both now at Welling United.

Any side that loses players of their quality has cause for some concern. But the re-signing of ‘keeper Charlie Mitten; the appointment of last season’s player of the year John Keister as player-coach and the re-signing of right back Greg Oates and mid-fielder Pat Gradley all bode well as manager Chris Kinnear looks to knit together his new squad.

Kinnear has already stated that Margate are not there “just to make up the numbers”. A good start to the new season – particularly at Hartsdown - would be a terrific tonic, and perhaps at long last signal a change of fortune for the club.

Of Gate’s prospects for the coming season, ‘keeper Charlie Mitten said: “We want to get out of this league. I don’t want to spend another year in this league, I want to be back in Conference South, and playing against the teams we should be playing against.”

“Hopefully we can get through it – obviously there are the play-offs if we can’t win it but there are some god teams in this league. But if we keep it solid, we should be OK.”

On his return to Margate Charlie said, “It’s another challenge. I enjoyed it at Welling, but the new manager came in and made a lot of changes. I still speak to Chris (Kinnear) all the time and he asked if I wanted to come back to help to try to get the club back where they belong – in the Conference. I feel that I’ve still got a few years left in me. I’m probably playing the best football I’ve played in a long time.“

Maldon have spent a lot of their recent history in the Eastern Counties League and in 2002/03 reached the semi final of the FA Vase losing to local rivals AFC Sudbury. The visitors won promotion to the Ryman League Premier Division – achieving their highest non-league pyramid status to date - from the Dr Martens League Eastern Division. Finishing the regular season in third place behind champions Fisher, Maldon Town gained promotion through the play-offs.

After a slow start to last year’s campaign, Maldon had a very good second half of the season - never outside the top nine. From nine games to go until the end of the season, they were never outside the top three – going as high as second on one occasion.

Manager Colin Wallington ensured that the Essex side were no slouches in front of goal. Town scored at an average of over two goals a game – scoring four or more six times – and will be relishing the prospect of spoiling Margate’s homecoming party.

Margate v Maldon Town
Ryman League Premier Division
Saturday 13th August 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Hartsdown Park, Hartsdown Road, Margate