You can keep the Costa Brava, we’re telling you – we’d rather have a day down Margate with Stevenage FC. Or, at least, we think we do. It’s not unlike football to get in the way of a good away day. And what can possibly beat a nice sunny day out at the seaside? Down on the Kent riviera with our buckets and spades and cossies and all? Luvvly jubbly! Of course, it’s also not unusual for us to get these trips on a cold Tuesday night in the middle of winter.
And then we do need the football to come to the rescue. After three seasons in the Nationwide Conference, the Gate were booted out in 2004 due to ongoing concerns with their ground. In our head-to-head, Boro’ had enjoyed a healthy record up until that point. But that was the last time we’d meet; the Gate going down once more in 2004-5 to end up in the Isthmian League. Let’s take a look back to see how fun it was to play the Gate after going on the pier and we’ll have a beer aside the sea.
Margate: The Facts
Hartsdown Road, Margate, Kent, CT9 5QZ
To get to the start of the Gate’s tale, we must go a long way back. In 2021, the club marks its 125-year birthday. But this achievement ain’t without its question marks. Back at the start, they were called Margate Town; playing in the Kent League ’til 1923. Due to financial woes, however, the competition suspended them and the club folded. This happened twice during the 1920s. So, technically, this is the third incarnation of the Gate – right?
Anyway, let’s move on – we’ve got… nowhere to go right now. Blimmin’ lockdown.
The Gate moved to the Southern League in 1933 and, for the next four years, seem to have been Arsenal’s official nursery side. Not for the first time, a Margate side ran into a spot of bother on the financial side of things. In 1937, the club went back to the Kent League. It’d be 1959 when they returned to the Southern League. After promotion to the Premier Division in 1962, the club went full-time in 1964.
But cash worries were never far away and that full-time status couldn’t be sustained with relegation back to Division One – even though they secured an immediate return. Into the 1970s and the financial issues continued. With this in mind, there was talk of the Gate merging with Ramsgate to form a Thanet-wide side. The local council said it wasn’t going to put any funding into the idea, however, and the merger idea was dropped.
Why do we know Margate?
After ditching the name change, the Gate trotted along in the Southern League Southern Division until promotion in 1999. Now in the Premier Division under the direction of Chris Kinnear, the club were looking up. And the 2000-1 campaign was shaping up to be quite a good one for them in the league; the Conference was in sight. To test out their credentials, however, the FA Trophy Round Four put them up against old hands at that level. Us.
How to get to Margate – Travel Information – Distance: 109 miles
After heading clockwise round the M25 and going over the Dartford Bridge, come off as the M25 restarts after its brief interlude as the A282. The Canterbury-bound A2 is what you need to take – and take you will for around nine miles.
The A2 becomes the M2 but don’t let this trouble you. You’ll find that once the M2 ends, however, you have to exit the carriageway to continue on the A2. DON’T DO THIS. Stay put and continue onto the A299 for 16.2 miles. And, once you come to the roundabout, that meets the A28, take the first exit.
Take the A28 for four-and-a-half miles, before turning right onto the B2052 George V Avenue, then right again for Hartsdown Road soon after. The ground is on the left.
Apart from a small car park at the ground, local on-street parking is your best bet.
Services to: LONDON VICTORIA
You can walk from the station to the ground in around 15 minutes by our reckoning. It’s annoying in that you have to walk the long way round from the station, however.
Leave the station via Station Approach and turn right onto All Saints Avenue to bring you back under the railway. Follow it round to the right, before taking a diversion across the park on your left. This’ll bring you around the back of the leisure centre.
You’ll then need to turn left onto Hartsdown Road.
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