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MFC Season: Highlights
The 2017/18 season is one Margate FC will look back on as a stabilising campaign which provided an exciting mixture of goals, a solid defence and a football community coming back together after some tough, tough years.
We consulted with fans to pick 10 highlights from the past season. What do you think of them? What would you add? Let us know...
1. 3G pitch installed at Hartsdown Park
News was announced early in pre-season and subsequently a summer of hard work took place, so that Margate played their first competitive game on their brand-new playing surface on Tuesday 15 August.
The installation has re-affirmed the club's position within the local community, offering players beyond the first team squad, a first class facility to train and play. Affiliated teams including Margate Youth, Margate Ladies, Margate Walking Football team and dozens of others have all played at the ground.
Local residents have also been able to play on this surface. Flexi-football leagues, cup finals, representational football and professional trials have all taken place at Margate this year with the club's investment help increase opportunities for people to play.
2. Laura Aldridge first female player in the Kent Youth League
History was made this season when Margate FC Under 13s player Laura Aldridge became the first female player to play in the Kent Youth League since it was formed in 1981.
The 12-year-old joined the club having played for Gillingham FC’s Centre of Excellence for Girls and showed the grit and determination needed to earn her a place in the squad.
Laura was welcomed as a special guest to a first-team match where she was presented with an acknowledgement from the League and Club for her achievement.
3. Margate Under 23s win league title
Led by Manager Jay Stubberfield, Margate's youngster showed there is plenty of talent within the club's ranks as they won the Bostik Development South League. With 11 wins, 1 draw and two losses, it was an outstanding effort which saw the team shake off any other competition to win the League, five points clear.
The youngsters compete in the Champions of Champions final on Friday 15 May having beaten fellow champions Burgess Hill 2-1. The match takes place at Aveley FC with The Gate facing Wingate and Finchley to be crowned.
4. Kara Richardson notches 100 goals
Margate Ladies had a testing season after successive promotions and it was a case of consolidating the team's position in the South East Counties Women's Football League this term.
And consolidate they have done. Some brilliant wins and a great team spirit has prevailed. Besides the highlight of hosting FA Women's Premier League side West Ham United, The Bluebirds celebrated an amazing feat when striker Kara Richardson scored her 100th goal for the club.
A brilliant achievement for the player and the club as they continue to grow from strength to strength.
5. FA Trophy battle
Margate were given a very tough test in the FA Trophy. Away to Bath City, extra drama was added to the tie when matters beyond Margate's control meant postponements and delay, meaning the team was forced to make the long trip to Somerset on a Tuesday evening.
Facing a team in the League above, Steve Watt's side showed their credentials pushing a replay at Hartsdown Park the next week. An end-to-end battle, the 2-2 draw provided a special night under the lights. The Blues eventually beaten. But only by a penalty shoot out.
6. McDonalds support The Blues
The Gate unveiled a new partnership with McDonalds on the day they beat Staines Town 2-0. The partnership meant the club could welcome over 15 deserving young people to enjoy a special afternoon at Harstdown.
Local people were encouraged to submit nominations and some very touching stories came to light. Thanks to McDonalds generous support, Thanet's non-league side were able to create some wonderful memories for some very deserving youngsters and their families.
7. Kane Haysman's late winner against Dulwich
A great atmosphere. A tight game. A brilliant winner. Kane Haysman's winner against play-off rivals Dulwich Hamlet sent Margate fans wild during a busy January period which saw Hartsdown host five back-to-back home games.
Whilst many clubs would struggle during such a period, Margate's fans did not let them down.
Sustaining large crowds throughout the month, Kane's winner was a highlight from an incredible run of form which saw The Gate win seven games in a row.
8. Folkestone Food Bank
Whilst results on the pitch weren't the best over the festive period, work off the pitch really did set The Gate apart. Besides a visit to the Children's Ward of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital armed with MFC goody bags, the club hosted a Christmas Fun Day and a Food Bank Appeal.
Planned around the first-team's Kent derby versus Folkestone, the club appealed to fans of both teams to bring their festive leftovers to the game, and the response was overwhelming. Meaning, not one but several food banks were able to benefit from the generous donations made.
9. Gate beat The Hammers
Margate beating West Ham is not a headline many would have expected before the season started. But that's exactly what the club's Walking Football side did.
Invited to play before the first-team's game against Egham, the fixture highlighted all that is fantastic about this form of football.
10. Dorking Fun Day
The Bank Holiday August sunshine came out in style for the first of seven community led days hosted by the club during the 2017/18 season. Face painting, inflatable football, a DJ plus opportunities for young fans to walk out with the team.
It was jam-packed day made even better by a crowd of 630 witnessing a 1-0 victory in the beaming heat.
Friday, 04 May 2018
By Charlotte Richardson