Cray Wanderers fourth match of pre-season takes them to the East Kent coast and the always pleasant trip to Whitstable Town. Kick off at the Belmont Ground is 3pm.
The Wands started their pre-season with wins at Sheppey United and at home to Tonbridge Angels last Saturday but were beaten at Beckenham Town on Tuesday as two goals in the last quarter of an hour gave the home side a 2-1 win.
At this stage of pre-season it is not really about results but getting the players fitness, team shape and continuity going ahead of the big league kick off on 10th August. The trip to Beckenham did see the first pre-season outings for Bradley Pritchard and Karl Dent while some eyecatching performances from a couple of trialists offered some possibilities with perhaps a couple more looks.
Whitstable Town will pose strong opposition on Saturday and Lloyd Blackman’s side had a fine first season back in the Isthmian South-East in 2018-19 finishing 12th. They also almost put a spoke in Cray’s title wheel with a 1-0 win at the Belmont on 30th March and the only side to prevent Cray from scoring away from home in the league.
They begun their pre-season with a 2-0 win at Thanet United on 9th July and followed that up with a 2-2 draw at Hollands & Blair last Saturday. They begin their league season a week later than the Wands kicking off their Isthmian South-East season on 17th August at home to Sittingbourne.
Cray and Whitstable are no strangers to each other in history with 62 previous league meetings mostly in a 26 year spell when both were Kent League regulars. Overall Whitstable lead the series with 23 wins to Cray’s 20 with 19 draws. However, Cray have the upper hand in cup ties with the teams having played in virtually every competition possible over the years and Cray have won 15 to Whitstable’s 4 with the most famous being the Kent Senior Trophy Final in 1993 when Sam Wright’s header won the game for underdogs Cray.
Whitstable were formed in 1886 and spent many of their early years in local leagues in Faversham, Thanet and New Brompton. Cray and Whitstable first met in the Aetolian League in 1963-64 and the Greater London League the following season. When the Kent League was re-formed at the end of the 60’s Whitstable were founder members and remained there for nearly 40 years winning the Kent Senior Trophy twice until promotion to the Isthmian South in 2006-07 where they were reunited with Cray for a couple of seasons. Whitstable Town remained in South division for a number of season before being relegated to the SCEFL Premier in 2015-16 before bouncing back promoted behind Sevenoaks Town in 2017-18 to the newly formed Isthmian South-East. They finished 12th last season.
DIRECTIONS TO WHITSTABLE TOWN FC
The Belmont Ground
KENT CT5 1QP
Summary directions from the M2 are given below
Please note the planned closure of the M2 London bound between junctions 7-5 weekend has been cancelled by the Highways Agency. This was due to be the 2nd of 3 planned closures for resurfacing as well as traffic lights in operation on the A2 in Faversham. Due to long tailbacks last weekend KCC and Highways Agency have cancelled the works for Friday with schools officially breaking up and the start of the summer holiday. The situation will be monitored throughout Saturday so possible that works could begin in the evening but most likely to affect Sunday.
- Approach East Kent on the M2 from the London direction towards Margate
- Continue to the end of the motorway at Faversham
- Proceed onto the A299 Thanet Way (signposted Margate and Ramsgate)
- Continue on the A299 for approx 6 miles (passing Seasalter marshes on your left)
- Take the Whitstable turn off A2990
- Continue until you reach the Long Reach roundabout and go straight ahead (second exit)
- Turn left at the second roundabout (Tesco)
- Descend Millstrood Hill
- After passing the cemetery on your right, turn left into Grimshill Road
- The entrance to the Belmont Ground is on the right, 140 yards along Grimshill Road
Please note that there is no parking available on match days from the Belmont Road entrance.
If you are coming by train Whitstable station is a ten minute walk away. Come out of the station and turn right onto Old Bridge Road which is across the concourse. Follow this until you get to the roundabout and turn right into Belmont Road. The ground entrance is on the other side of the road just past the cricket ground.
Trains run direct from Bromley South to Whitstable at 57 mins past the hour taking just over an hour to get there. The 27 past requires a change of train at Rochester. Coming back returns are direct at 27 past the hour with the 49 past needing a change at Faversham.
If going from St. Mary Cray trains at 10 mins past the hour require a change at Rochester so no direct trains. Going back the 49 past requires a change at Faversham as above.
Whitstable is a wonderful seaside town full of character, quirky shops and a safe and contented feel. Linked intrinsically with the fishing industry especially that of Oysters which are legendary and leads to an Annual Oyster festival every summer. There is also an excellent harbour and a very fine beach and if time on your hands you could do the couple of miles walk to Herne Bay and some great Kentish coastline but that would be doing a disservice to Whitstable.
The clubhouse at the ground is first class but there are plenty of pubs in Whitstable with the Old Neptune, The Pearsons Arms, Quayside all by the beach/harbour. There is in the High Street, The Duke of Cumberland, Royal Naval Reserve, Ship Centurion, The East Kent and in homage to perhaps the most famous person to come from Whitstable, famed Horror film actor Peter Cushing the Wetherspoon’s pub is named after him and is converted art-deco cinema and like a lot of Wetherspoon’s pubs take up a lot of room but is good value. There are plenty of decent chippies and fish restaurants with Ossie’s Fish Bar in the High Street highly rated.as is the Lobster Shack by the Harbour. There is also the lure at least of half a dozen Oysters (local Oysters can be very expensive if boosting up to a dozen) and watching the Wands play at a really nice friendly ground and is usually sunny.