The start of a New Year and decade as the 2020’s begins with a cracking game as Cray Wanderers head to Margate to get things going.  Kick off at Hartsdown Road is 3pm.

Both sides are looking to begin the year with an upturn in form with both teams without a win since December 7th.  Cray have lost their last three games, including two in the league but there has been much to commend the last two performances at Worthing in the League Cup and at home to Leatherhead on Boxing Day where Cray finished both games strongly.  Cray were unlucky not to claim a point against Leatherhead but just couldn’t convert the chances that came their way with Bradley Pritchard, Joel Rollinson, Tom Murphy and Joe Taylor all coming close to scoring during the game which Leatherhead won 1-0.

Injuries to key players have been a major factor during the season and this continued on Boxing Day with Barney Williams and Tom Carlse out with as well as Mitchell Nelson absent through illness meant a bit of chopping and changing at the back.  There were still good performances through the team particularly Charlie Allen who filled in at left back and did well and also Bradley Pritchard who was skipper for the afternoon.  The sight of Tom Phipp on the bench was a welcome sight and hopefully can return to the side soon since being injured in the Worthing league game on 2nd November.  Joe Taylor, an ex-Margate player still has an impressive 24 goals for the first half of the season with 18 in the league.  Cray come into the game in 7th place in the league table on 34 points and still handily placed halfway through the season to remain a contender in 2020.

Margate start the year in 12th place in the league table on 26 points, a position they ended last season and ended 2019 with a 0-4 defeat at Folkestone Invicta on Boxing Day with all four goals coming in the second half, although the final two goals came in stoppage time. When the two sides met at Hayes Lane back on 21st August, it was a great evening for Cray who won their first match back in the Premier since 2014 with a 3-2 win with goals from Freddie Parker (2) and a Joe Taylor penalty. Margate replied through leading scorer so far, Noel Leighton and Dan Johnson in injury time.

Their home form has seen them pick up wins against Lewes (2-0) and Merstham (2-1). They drew with Brightlingsea Regent (0-0), Potters Bar Town (2-2) and Leatherhead (0-0) and were beaten by Worthing (0-2), Bognor Regis Town (1-6) and Bishop’s Stortford (3-4).  Away from home Jay Saunders’ side won at Cheshunt (2-1), East Thurrock United (2-1), Corinthian Casuals (2-1), Bowers & Pitsea (1-0) and Horsham (3-0). They drew at Hornchurch and Kingstonian and were beaten at Cray Wanderers, Carshalton, Haringey Borough and Worthing.  Margate had a decent run in the FA Cup reaching the 4th Qualifying Round beating Horsham YMCA, Concord Rangers and Salisbury before losing at Oxford City.  In the FA Trophy, Margate advanced past Barking after a replay but were beaten at home by Tooting & Mitcham United in the 2nd Qualifying Round.

Meetings between Cray Wanderers and Margate surprisingly considering the long, chequered histories of both clubs only really began with Cray’s promotion to the Isthmian League in 2004-05.  We had met briefly in the Kent League in 1937-38 when Margate were for a while Arsenal’s junior team and then in Cray’s run to the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup in 2005-06, Cray who were an Isthmian South side won 3-0 at Margate with two goals from Michael Power and a Ross Lover strike.

On Cray’s promotion to the Isthmian Premier in 2009-10, the clubs met for five seasons with Cray having a good record particularly at Hartsdown Road winning 4 out of the 5 played although the last meeting in April 2014 ended with an already relegated Cray side crashing to a 0-5 defeat.  The overall record is P. 13 W. 7 L. 6 with no previous drawn game.


Margate were founded in 1896 originally as Margate Town and moved for the vast majority of time in different circles to Cray. They were members of the Southern League from 1933 for three seasons reaching the 3rd Round of the FA Cup in 1935-36 before going to the Kent League before World War II.  After the resumption of football after the war, Margate won two Kent League titles before in 1959-60 with the Kent League disbanded headed back to the Southern League Division One. They won the Division One title in 1962-63 and were relegated from the Premier straight away but returned again in 1966-67.

The 1970’s was often difficult for the club but did have two very contrasting FA Cup seasons. In 1971-72 Margate lost 11-0 at Bournemouth with Ted MacDougall scoring nine for the home side yet the following season in a complete turnaround reached the 3rd Round of the FA Cup beating Swansea and Walton & Hersham setting up a home tie with Tottenham in front of a crowd of 14,500 and Spurs won 6-0.  In the 80’s, the club changed their name for a few seasons to Thanet United after a proposed merger with Ramsgate never took off.

In 1996 under the management of Chris Kinnear things began to take off and in 1997-98 won promotion to the Southern League Premier and in 2000-01 were promoted for the first time to the Conference.  They finished 8th in their first season in 2001-02 and groundshared at Dover during this time with Hartsdown Road being renovated and beat Leyton Orient in the FA Cup. They were demoted in 2004-05 while playing at Ashford were relegated from the National South to the Isthmian league for the first time returning to Hartsdown Road for the 05-06 season. They met Cray for the first time in 2009-10 and Margate generally finished in the upper reaches of the division and in 2011-12 after Chris Kinnear left for a second time the club were managed by two former Cray players, Craig Holloway and Simon Osborn.  In 2015-16 under the management of Terry Brown Margate reached the playoffs beating Dulwich Hamlet in the Semis and after winning 1-0 at Hendon returned to the Conference South but were relegated after one season back to the Isthmian Premier.

This is a game always high up the list of games the supporters look forward to when the fixtures are announced and a trip to Margate is always highly recommended and should be a good, competitive game to get 2020 off and running.


Margate FC

Hartsdown Road, Margate, Kent CT9 5QZ

Admission Prices:   Adults:  £11 adults

Concs:  £8 (Males over 65, Women over 60 and Disabled supporters)

Youngsters:  11-17 year olds – £5

Children – Free when accompanied by adult


From Junction 2 of the M25 take the A2 and then the M2 towards Dover. On reaching the end of the M2 take the A299 towards Margate.

Stay on the A299 for sixteen miles, until you reach a roundabout which is the junction with the A28. At the roundabout take the second exit onto the A28 continuing towards Margate. After around four miles you will pass the Margate town boundary sign. The road at this point is dual carriageway but becomes two way. After passing a BP garage on your right and then the Hussar pub, also on the right, you will pass through a set of traffic lights. Take the second right onto the George V Avenue (sign posted Ramsgate A254) and follow this road up and around to the left (passing the Hartsdown Academy School on your right). At the end of the road you will reach a T-Junction where you turn right into Hartsdown Road. The entrance to the ground is further down on the left.

Street Parking
There is a small car park at the ground, but as you would expect this fills up rather quickly. Otherwise there is plenty of surrounding street parking available.


From Bromley South trains leave at 57 mins past the hour on New Years Day taking 1 hr 26 mins to get there. For the return journey there are trains at 16 mins past which when stopping at Faversham takes on extra carriages.  At 32 mins past you would need to change at Sittingbourne for a train to Bromley South. However being New Years Day best check National rail enquiries website before travelling just to be on the safe side.

Margate Railway Station is located just under a mile from Hartsdown Park and is around a ten minute walk. Margate is unusual in that trains leave for London from both ends of the station. As you come out of the main station entrance, bear right and walk up the station approach. At the roundabout turn right into All Saints Avenue and go under the railway bridge. Turn left into Tivoli Park Avenue and cross the road to walk alongside the park. After 350 yards turn right down a surfaced footpath. The floodlights of the ground can be seen to the right. The path leads directly to the turnstiles at the South East corner of the ground on Hartsdown Road.

If you are looking for a drink to see in 2020 and if you didn’t over indulge the night before, there are plenty of pubs in Margate to choose from.  There is a very good clubhouse at Hartsdown Road and very welcoming but if you prefer to take in the sea air there are near the seafront the Cinque Ports, the Mechanical Elephant (Wetherspoons) on Marine Terrace, while strolling up and around are the Fez, The Two Halves, The Bulls Head, The Wig & Pen while for real ale lovers, the Northern Belle on Mansion Street is listed in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide.

Another real ale pub is the Lifeboat on Market Street. If you looking for nearer and around the ground then on Tivoli Road is the Princess of Wales.  As it is New Years Day some of these boozers may not be open as business the night before may take its toll but you should hopefully get a drink somewhere and certainly will do at the ground.  If you want a chippie then again there are loads normally but best check they are open but on the seafront you may find The Atlantis, Peter’s Fish Factory, Garlinge and Alfies.

There is probably not many of our supporters who haven’t at one time or another been to Margate perhaps for a holiday or a daytrip or a Beano at some point so much of the town will not be new to you. You might not have been there on New Years Day which adds a different dimension and you may if you feel somewhat ambitious and keen to maybe book yourself a New Years Eve accommodation there.

Margate is part of the Ile of Thanet in North-East Kent and has links with Dover in terms of maritime history.  Margate was a major holiday destination for Londoners attracted by its impressive sandy beach.  It is also home of the Dreamland Amusement Park which was opened firstly in 1880 and added the Scenic Railway rollercoaster the oldest of its kind in the UK in 1920. The park was for a short while known as Benbom Brothers after the Dutch owners but reverted back to Dreamland in 1990. It closed in 2006 originally for housing but a campaign to keep it open worked and re-opened in 2015 and then again two years later.  Margate also has an artistic history with the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery named after JMW Turner, the artist who was associated with the town. There is also the Winter Gardens near the seafront which is a live music and comedy venue and there are two other theatres, the Theatre Royal, the second oldest in the country and the Tom Thumb theatre, the second smallest in the country.   You will find a lot to do in Margate but perhaps a slight shame not to be travelling there in August or April but there are worse places to start the New Year and decade.