With our experience we should do well this season, says Whitstable Town defender Craig Cloke

Sunday 01st October 2017

WHITSTABLE TOWN defender Craig Cloke says he is not a fan of artificial pitches.

The Oystermen lost ground in the title race after suffering a 2-1 defeat at Sevenoaks Town yesterday, a club that installed a 3G playing surface at Greatness Park during the summer, but Cloke says he prefers to play on grass.

“Sevenoaks are going to be up there this year with us and with a few other teams,” said Cloke, 32.

“They play on a 3G pitch and that is massive for a team.  For me, that’s not football!  You can’t beat grass and a bit of rain, mud and all that!

“Playing on 3G pitches took the fun out of the game. I know Maidstone have got it and they’ve done well but it’s just a money spinner for club’s. It’s not football.  Fans love to see blood, sweat and tears on the old pitch, don’t they, not flipping nice tappy-tappy football.  It’s non-league. You pay top money to watch that in the top leagues don’t you?”

Cloke also reflected on Whitstable Town’s “weird” 6-5 home after-extra time win over Lancing in The Buildbase FA Vase Second Qualifying Round on 23 September.

“I’ve been in the game a long time, I’m getting old, so I didn’t need that extra-time.  I can’t remember a game like that, it was weird,” recalled Cloke.

“Being a defender, I’m not happy letting five goals in at home, but Lancing played very high and left lots of players up front, so it was hard for us to defend.  Luckily, our front three did us a job. Shaun Welford and Danny Williams got a hat-trick.

“We’re in the hat, that’s what the gaffer said after the game. It’s one of those games.  You win or you lose them. They were unlucky, they wanted a replay, you can tell, but we’re in the hat, we’ll take that. A win’s a win. If it ended up 9-8 we’d still would’ve taken it, so happy days.”

Whitstable Town have been drawn away to Saltdean United in The Buildbase FA Vase First Round on 21 October.

“I’m coming to the end of my playing career. It would be nice to go to Wembley but you’ve got to take each game as it comes. You can’t think about that, we’ve got a long way off. I don’t know how many teams are in it now?”

Whitstable Town have slipped down to eighth-place in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division table, having collected 15 points from their seven league outings.

AFC Croydon Athletic rose to the summit with 20 points from 10 games, followed by Sevenoaks Town, who have 19 points from eight games.

Whitstable Town have an experienced core to their side, as Cloke explains.

“Me and Rob Gilman at the back, god knows how many league appearances we’ve got? Shaun Welford up front helps the other two boys, Ricky Freeman and Danny Williams.  They’re old, only a couple of years younger than me but they’ve got loads of league appearances under theirs so we’ve got a good team, good team spirt and that’s the main thing, a lot of experience to get you through games.”

Whitstable Town are next in action next Saturday, hosting Chatham Town at Belmont Road.

Chatham Town parted company with Paul Piggott but former Cray Valley boss James Collins couldn’t prevent the club suffering a 4-1 home defeat to Beckenham Town in his first game in charge yesterday.

Chatham Town lost their Isthmian League status last season and are in the relegation zone in the Southern Counties East Football League Premier Division with five points from nine games and only have Gillingham-based Hollands & Blair below them in the table.

“We don’t want to go on too mad about it because at the end of the day it’s what happens at the end of the season, not halfway through,” added Cloke.

“You can have a little run and every team picks a blip up and at the minute luckily we haven’t had a blip apart from the Deal game but we’re going well. With our experience we should do well this season.”

Meanwhile, Colin Patching’s first game in charge of Gravesham Borough ended in defeat yesterday as they suffered a 5-1 thrashing at Kent Football United. 

Gravesham Borough have failed to win any of their 12 games in all competitions this season and remain rooted to the foot of the Southern Counties East Football League First Division table with four points from 11 games.

Patching appears to have left newly-formed club Whitstable Bay under a cloud, being reported to the Kent FA by the chairman of Whitstable Rugby Club for, it is alleged, unpaid debts.

Visit Whitstable Town’s website: www.whitstabletownfc.co.uk