|Go Travel Kent League
|Stephen McCartney reports from The Small Glen|
|Slade Green||3||Dean Bowey 7,52,72|
|Sevenoaks Town||1||Andy Constable 37|
My proudest moment, says Bowey - 301 not out
DEAN BOWEY - the most prolific striker in Kent football during his lifetime - had every reason to be a proud man at The Small Glen on Tuesday night.
The 40-year-old Slade Green striker began the game just two goals short of netting 300 career goals and not only did he reach that fantastic milestone, he scored a hat-trick in a deserved 3-1 win over Sevenoaks Town in the Go Travel Kent League premier division match to even go on to notch number 301.
It took him only seven minutes to fire Slade Green into the lead - and scoring goal number 299 of a wonderful career in the process.
Tony Gallagher - lasting only 24 minutes after being forced off due to a back injury - played a long ball out from his centre back position for Dave Martin to chase down the right flank. He played a square pass for Bowey, who took the ball past his marker, and fired low into the bottom right hand corner past Sevenoaks goalkeeper Darren Smart.
Sevenoaks, however, almost spoilt the party, drawing level after 37 minutes. Striker Andy Constable's right-footed free kick, on the edge of the penalty box, curled around the wall and found the far corner of another 40-year-old, Paul Vines' net.
But this was to be Bowey's night and everyone in the ground was willing the striker on to get his 300th career goal.
And he didn't disappoint either as he reached that milestone in the 52nd minute - and what a goal to savour for the rest of his life.
Martin received a one-two from Ryan Hayes, following a corner kick, and Martin's cross was inch perfect and picked out Bowey, ghosting in at the far post, and from an acute angle and with the adrenalin pumping throughout his body, he smashed the ball inside the foot of the near post and celebrated for the 300th time.
Ripping off his shirt in sheer delight, revealing an Ian Wright style 300 goals shirt, Bowey admitted afterwards he was thankful for referee Mr P Kelly for not issuing a standard yellow card for his goal celebration.
It was a special moment, even a referee, being assessed, had to stand back and appreciate the moment. For once, a Kent League referee used common sense - there's not much of that about presently.
Bowey said: "The referee came up to me and said he was being assessed and he was being lenient with me. I owe him a beer in the bar for being so lenient with me."
Still not satisfied with 300 goals to his name, Bowey wrapped up a special night by heading home his hat-trick in the 72nd minute. Hayes delivered a cross from the right, picking out the unmarked hero and his looping header sailed over Smart and into the net.
The proudest man in Kent said: "It took a long time in coming. I've been in and out of the side, which is a bit frustrating but Phil Miles (manager) told me on Saturday that I'll be playing tonight. I had my little vest ready and I was quietly confident of scoring."
It was a family affair for the prolific hit-man. He added: "I think I proved a little point. What can I say? I am very pleased. My dad was here to see it as well."
Bowey, however, was grateful Slade Green joint-manager Phil Miles had faith in him as he is being pushed by a talented crop of youngsters making their way through the ranks into first team reckoning.
"It took me a long time in coming. I've finally done it and I'm over the moon," he said.
"If my goals can help us to win games, which they did tonight, it's more than pleasing.
"I've still got faith in my own ability so it's not all about proving a point. I'd like to think I'm playing next week!
"When you are in and out of the side you do start doubting yourself and you think, well I'm 40 and the managers dropped me so maybe I'm not able to do it anymore?
"But I still hear good reports from the other players saying I am playing well, which is always nice to hear.
"You go away and you start to realise there are some young lads at the club, 18 or 19-year-old's and they should be pushing me.
"I have to be fair, the system we play - 4-5-1 - but we push the two young lads on. Shaun (Malyon) has been playing upfront on his own and to be fair, Shaun's probably better playing up front on his own than I am as he is a big, strong lad."
When asked what his plans are for next season - is he going to continue doing what he loves best - scoring goals for fun - or will he hang up his boots?
"That's a big question," he said.
"I feel all-right, I wish I didn't have to work tomorrow, though!
"I feel ok, whether I can do another season next year, is another matter - just to get this one out of the way and I'll see how I feel after the summer."
If he does decide to hang up his boots at the end of this season, Bowey admitted he would like to win the Kent League Cup.
Slade Green host local rivals Thamesmead Town in the last eight on the 5th February and is looking for one more winners medal to complete the set.
He added: "The Kent League Cup, other than the FA Vase, is the only one I haven't won.
"That would be nice if we can win that. I can say I've got the lot then. That wouldn't be a bad note to end on.
"I'm more than proud of my career. I think I've proved tonight, I can still put the ball into the back of the net."
Honest Bowey revealed he must have known he would score at least two goals against struggling Sevenoaks to reach his unique milestone.
"It was the first day I put the vest on - that's the truth. Years ago, if I needed four or five goals in a game I would have worn the vest. I thought as I'm getting on a bit I'd wait until I'm a little bit closer. That was the first night I put it on. I just had that feeling.
Bowey, however, is highly thought of throughout the Kent League game.
Bowey played under Jim Ward when Ramsgate clinched the Kent League and cup double in 1998-99 and the Scotsman paid tribute to Bowey on reaching his milestone.
"Dean Bowey is the most prolific centre forward I've had the pleasure to work with." Ward said.
"He was very much instrumental for Ramsgate when they won the league and all the cups that they went onto win.
"He is well thought of at Ramsgate and always welcomed back at our place, as he knows."
Ramsgate, currently second in the Kent League table, would win the championship if they had Bowey in their side NOW, according to Ward.
He added: "If I had Dean Bowey - in his prime now - I would be very confident winning the league - that's how much I put on Dean Bowey."
Maverick - as he is known - has worn the colours of the following Kent clubs: Darenth Heahside, Gravesend & Northfleet, Dover Athletic, Erith & Belvedere, Slade Green, Thamesmead Town, Dartford, VCD Athletic, Ramsgate, Erith Town, Greenwich Borough and Cray Wanderers.
With a very tough decision awaiting him at the end of this season, it would be a shame for Kent football if Bowey did decide to hang up his boots after a long, successful and illustrious career. Even the defenders he has terrorised all this time, will be sad to see him go - only just though!
Slade Green: Paul Vines, Scott Lewis, Lee Barber, Tony Gallagher (Shaun Malyon 23), Dean Kearley, Darren Upson, Dave Martin, Wayne Barrett (Billy Bond 86), Danny Little, Dean Bowey, Ryan Hayes. Subs: Steve Morris, Lee Haywood (GK)
Sevenoaks Town: Darren Smart, Robin Jenner, Ollie Miles, Ollie Young, Dave Walters, Barry Gibson (Richard Bryce 60), Lee Aldridge (Capt), Chris Ralph (Liam Spillane 60), Dave Forster, Andy Constable, Phil Cramp. Subs: Jason Reeves (GK), Richard Percy
Referee: P Kelly
Assistants: B Harvey & R Preedy
Have you played in the same team, or against, or
managed Dean Bowey?
Please credit this article to Stephen McCartney - www.kentishfootball.co.uk