Angels chairman Sullivan is a "Legend", says proud Angels fan - EXCLUSIVE
There are hundreds of sore heads in the Tonbridge area this morning as fans celebrated the club’s return to the Ryman Premier League at the first attempt yesterday, writes Stephen McCartney.
The Ryman League Division One play-off final SHOWDOWN between Tonbridge Angels and Dover Athletic attracted a record crowd to the Betterview Longmead Stadium when 1,853 fans flocked through the turnstiles.
The game started around 18 minutes late to get them all into the ground and the Angels’ continent were euphoric when their side raced into a 2-0 lead within 22 minutes through Jon Main and Fraser Logan.
And when Dover’s Tommy Tyne’s right-footed penalty struck the foot of the right post after 61 minutes they felt that was it.
But when Wade Falana made it 3-0 with 17 minutes left, he ripped off his shirt as he celebrated but was sent off just four minutes later for an elbow.
But when former Tonbridge pair Nick Humphrey and Anthony Hogg scored late on, it made it a very nervous time for the Blues.
Humphrey glanced home a header from Lee Spiller’s corner just three minutes after Falana scored Tonbridge’s third, and when Hogg drove home from 20-yards with just four minutes remaining, they had to endure an extra five minutes of raid after raid towards their goal but the final whistle brought jubilant scenes - and promotion.
“It means absolutely everything to me,” said Angels’ fan Mike Davis after the game.
“Not only it is to get us promotion but I’ve been watching Tonbridge for fifteen years now and it means so much to me,” said the proud 22-year-old.
“Not only that, to do it at home at Longmead against Dover Athletic - it’s just unbelievable.”
Davis, with the rest of the Tonbridge faithful, was signing at the top of their voices, and when his heroes were 2-0 up, then 3-0 up, what was to follow was unexpected.
“I must admit at 2-0 up we were cruising and doing really well,” he said. “Everyone behind the goal was getting behind the team but for us to get a third goal was brilliant.
“I was so nervous when Dover scored their first goal but we held out - we did it.”
Angels fans were anxiously looking at their watches as Hogg drove home the Whites’ second goal and when fourth assistant Mr Richard Beevor (from Norwich) held up the number FIVE high above his head, those four minutes and 59 seconds proved to be the longest for any Tonbridge fan.
Davis added: “I was so nervous. But again we’ve came through it. We did our bit behind the goal, we got behind the team. That’s all we can do.”
Chairman Nick Sullivan celebrates his first season at the helm with promotion into the Ryman Premier League, and success at all levels of the club.
And the raven haired fan labels his chairman a “Legend” for what he has done during his first season in charge.
“Nick Sullivan is a Legend. It’s the only word I can describe him.”
And player-manager Tony Dolby? “Well I had my reservations about him I must admit but after today I can’t say a bad word about him. He’s Tonbridge Angels through and through.”
So it’s taken seventy matches (including pre-season friendlies) but now Tonbridge Angels Football Club can look forward staging Ryman Premier League matches at the Betterview Longmead Stadium - joining Ramsgate and Horsham.
The club’s reserve side, meanwhile, are TWENTY games unbeaten and travel to Burnham on Monday night in the Suburban League Shield Final.
Julian Leigh’s side have already secured the Kent Intermediate Cup following their convincing 4-0 win at Gravesend & Northfleet last month, and would be grateful for support up near Slough.
I would like to congratulate EVERYONE at Tonbridge Angels Football Club on their success. That’s Nick Sullivan, Tony Dolby, Mike Rutherford, the players, the coaching and backroom staff inside the dressing room, the people behind the scenes that work tirelessly at the club - and the fans.
www.kentishfootball.co.uk relish following the club in the Ryman Premier League, and like Ramsgate - who are another smashing club - you deserve to be there.