Sunday 06th November 2005

Blade: How many teams go up from Kent League?


Kent Senior Trophy holders Thamesmead Town make the trip to FA Cup heroes Ramsgate to try to spring a surprise on Tuesday night, writes Stephen McCartney.

The Bayliss Avenue club defeated Beckenham Town at the Belmont ground in Whitstable in the final, thanks to Kieron Collins scoring the only goal of the game.

And their reward is a trip to Kent League champions Ramsgate, in the first round of the Kent Senior Cup.

The Thanet side are comfortably sitting in sixth place in the Ryman League Division One table and have just returned from Nuneaton Borough with their heads held high.

Jim Ward's brave hearts, who have beaten Merstham, Croydon Athletic, Southall, Walton & Hersham and Cirencester Town, to become the first side from Ramsgate to get into the first round of the FA Cup since Ramsgate Athletic lost 5-3 at Watford in November 1955, saw their run ended thanks to first half goals from Robert Oddy and David Staff in front of 2,153 fans at Manor Park.

But in an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, Thamesmead boss Paul Blade is relishing their chance of locking horns with the Rams once more, before Ward's heroes host AFC Wimbledon in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy on Saturday.

"Is it a good time to play a team at a higher level? I don't know.  But their minds will possibly be on the big game on Saturday," he said.

"We've always had tight games when we've played Ramsgate.  We did beat them last year in the semi-finals of the Kent Senior Trophy (5-4)  and always had good competitive games against them."

Thamesmead, however, go into this cup game in third place in the Kentish Observer League table, nine points behind leaders Beckenham Town and five behind Maidstone United.

Goals from Curtis Williams and Dean Burns helped secure a 2-0 victory over Sevenoaks Town yesterday, the side rooted to the foot of the table with just one point from their first ten league games.

"It wasn't the greatest game in the world," admitted the Thamesmead boss, whose now in his third season at Bayliss Avenue.  "We kept a clean sheet, which was good and won the game 2-0 and that was about it."

But Blade feels Sevenoaks will have a miserable winter, having lost their manager Gary Davies, who resigned last month, with his assistants John Adams and Brian Meaney now in charge of team affairs.

"Sevenoaks are a club going though a transitional period," said Blade.  "They've lost their manager and some players and I think they're going to have a very tough season.

"They need to improve and only had two shots the whole game.

"We didn't play practically well but did enough to win the game comfortably.

"It wasn't the best game in the world, but a win is a win, we've got three points and it's important we keep winning."

Blade, however, is desperate to know which league his side will be playing in next season if they continue their impressive early season form.

"We are unsure with the restructuring of the leagues as the FA keep changing their minds," he said.  "It would be nice for the FA to let the club's know.

"A lot of clubs are backing their teams with a lot of money but until the FA decide what happens a few clubs could find themselves in debt if they are unable to go up.

"I think the FA need to make a decision with regards to how many teams go up (from the Kent League) so clubs can get geared up to what they need to do.

"In the Kent League there are four or five teams pushing to get out of this league and we want to be one of those teams."

The 39-year-old, who lives locally in Erith, revealed what the club needs to do before the unconfirmed April deadline to get their Bayliss Avenue ground up to Ryman League standards.

They need to spend around £40,000 (hopefully aided by grants) to fence off the ground, add around 20 seats to their current stand, install a public address system, add another turnstile, board in the perimeter fencing, install covered terracing at the flyover end of the ground and more importantly allow people to stand behind the goal at the clubhouse end, which means they'll need to move back the high fencing.

But the club does have a superb clubhouse, dressing rooms and a car park, but Blade wants to know if his club need to implement this work to gain promotion - and how many places are up for grabs.

"Forty thousand pounds is a lot of money and we need to find out if we need to do the work."

Thamesmead, however, are relishing their FA Vase second round clash against Ryman League second division outfit Brook House at Bayliss Avenue on 19th November.

But Blade admitted sides are forced to travel long distances in the early rounds of this competition - which harms clubs finances as they have to shell out on their opponents travelling expenses.

Blade said the £1,000 prize money if they do get past Brook House in the next round, doesn't go far once they've paid their travelling expenses.

"To be honest the prize money needs to be looked at with all the travelling in the early rounds," he said.  "If you pay out for coaches and get beat it's a big financial loss for teams.  Lesser clubs who don't have the finances need to be helped out."

Looking ahead to the game, Blade added: "They haven't played that many league games but are a team we need to show respect for.

"We've played well in the Vase away from home and as we are at home the onus is on us.

"You need a bit of luck and once you get into the last 64 or 32 there aren't going to be many poor sides in it -  it will be tough."

His side travel to Greatness Park to play struggling Sevenoaks Town again on Saturday, but this time in Group D of the Kent League Cup before hosting local rivals Slade Green in the same competition next Tuesday, 15th November.

And with only 31 people watching their win over Sevenoaks on Saturday, Blade calls upon local people to watch his side in action.

"To be fair, that's the biggest crowd since we've been playing Sevenoaks," he said.  "Our crowds have always been like that - we don't know why.

"Thamesmead as an area has that stigma.  A lot of people have moved out with a lot of foreign people moving in. 

"Hopefully we'll try to rectify that by notifying the schools and we are in the process of appointing a press officer, because I don't think we get enough recognition in the local press.  That might help us with people coming to watch us."

* If the Football Association or Kent League would like to clarity how many teams get promoted at the end of this season, please email:


Ramsgate v Thamesmead Town
Kent Senior Cup First Round
Tuesday 8th November 2005
Kick Off 7:45pm
at Southwood Stadium, Prices Avenue, Ramsgate