Maldon and Tiptree Assalted by Jammy Motormen

Headlines should tell a story, but be cunningly cryptic to entice the reader in for more.  Today I had so much to play with, especially as the result was a foregone conclusion.  But this is the game we all love so much for its unpredictability so I had to rethink.  Therefore before we start I thought I would explain what my title actually means:-

8418092934_a08dc9fe62_b“Maldon and Tiptree” – home team
“Assalted” – not a misspelling but a pun on the fact that Maldon is famous for its sea salt production
“by” – preposition meaning near to or through a medium
“Jammy” – a pun on the fact that Tiptree is globally famous for its jam still manufactured today by J Wilkins & Sons
“Motormen” – nickname of the away team Redbridge FC

So there we have the full explanation, you can read on.

With the cold snap giving way to rapid melting, for what seems like the millionth weekend in a row, the Non League football calendar was decimated once again.  Many games hadn’t even made it to Saturday and by lunchtime my options were being decreased by the minute.  However, my first option (after Lewes’s inevitable postponement away to snowy Wingate & Finchley) was still on, and on without a pitch inspection planned.  I was off to the deepest corner of Essex to the home of salt and jam.  Welcome to Maldon and Tiptree.

The two towns aren’t really next to each other.  In fact Maldon and Heybridge are neighbours, divided by Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation, one of the closest rivalries in the Isthmian league.  But Maldon Town and Tiptree United decided to join forces instead back in 2009 through the vision of the Tiptree Chairman who saw an opportunity to be THE premier footballing team in the North Eastern Chelmsford area.  Who said football chairman were power-hungry meglomaniacs?

8417916964_cde8056997_bAfter seasons of mid-table performances in the Isthmian league, this year saw the start of something special.  The Blues started the season with a bang of gigantic proportions.  After draws in two of their first three league games, they went on a winning run of fourteen consecutive Ryman League matches.  Their run was only ended in the Boxing Day derby at Heybridge when they suffered their first defeat of the season, and indeed was the first time they had failed to score a goal in ninety minutes.  The league title still seemed all but wrapped up.  And then for some unknown reason they took the effect of the defeat into the New Year.  An unconvincing 3-0 win away at bottom of the table Ilford was followed up by a nil nil draw to Waltham Abbey, the first points the team had dropped at home all season.  Surely lightning wouldn’t strike twice with the visit of Redbridge, themselves desperately trying to stay out of the relegation zone?  The stats suggested a banker home win.  Maldon & Tiptree were a mere 47 points above their visitors, with a goal difference of 90 between the two. Continue reading

Non League Legends – Steve Portway

As a young chap growing up in Gravesend there was little in the way to get excited about apart from a friday night fight in Kenneth Chows and a quick grope outside The Royal Victoria Shades.  However that all changed in 1992 when Gravesend & Northfleet FC signed a young chap called Steve Portway from Barking who had scored 36 the previous year. Continue reading

Go on the Fleet!

This week we turn our attentions to my home town, Gravesend and get an update on how Ebbsfleet are doing from our resident Man of Kent, Glenn Bowie.

So Glenn, nearly a quarter of the season gone, how has the season gone so far for The Fleet?
Not the greatest of starts to be honest with only one win and five draws from our first eleven games. This leaves us sitting just 2 points above the relegation places. Almost the entire first team squad was released last season so it’s nearly a completely new team. However, the team is now starting to gel and we have moved out of the bottom four relegation places so we’re moving in the right direction.

Still Gravesend & Northfleet to me

Still Gravesend & Northfleet to me

What is the situation with Myfootballclub? Last season was the vote to determine whether they would still continue to invest – what happened in the end?
The Myfootball club membership renewal figures reduced from something like 30,000 to 9,000 which really hit us hard in terms of the playing budget for this season. We had to release the majority of last season’s first team squad and had to put a new team together, basically made up of pre-season trialists who had been released by League clubs. It does seem that the 9,000 members that are left in the venture are in it for the long-term and continue to support The Fleet. So for the foreseeable future, Myfc are here to stay.

The club has attracted some big name sponsorship – a kit supplied by Nike and sponsored by Eurostar. Has that given the club a boost?
We attracted alot of big sponsorship deals when the Myfc deal was announced and in addition to Eurostar & Nike we had EA Sports sponsoring the back of our shirts as well. The Nike deal has now ended but we have secured a deal with Vandanel for this season. The Eurostar sponsorship continues which if I’m right is up for renewal at the end of next season.

What’s the best team you’ve seen Ebbsfleet play this season?
So far I’d say Cambridge United. Although we produced a great first half display against them, they really stepped up a gear in the second half and were far too quick and clinical for us on the break and we ended up losing 3-1.

What have the home crowd been like at Stonebridge Road this season?
Given that we haven’t seen the team win at home so far this season, (our only win came away at Eastbourne Borough), the crowd have pretty much backed the team. The performances have been good but we have struggled to score goals. We’ve pretty much matched the teams we have played and really should of had wins instead of draws against Rushden & Diamonds and AFC Wimbledon.

Liam Daish was rumoured to be off to Cambridge a few weeks ago, how did the fans react to that?
With the very minimal finances he is having to work with the season and having to rebuild the team from scratch alot of fans were of the feeling that they wouldn’t blame him if he went. It would have been an offer I don’t think he would of turned down and there was a rumour that he did in fact have an interview for the post before it was offered to Martin Ling.

Almost a second

Almost a second

Do you agree that the Blue Square Premier is an unfair playing field due to the structure of promotion/relegation from the football league? Luton Town, Wrexham, Cambridge United and Oxford United all attract crowds on a par with League Two (and One in some instances) clubs, yet others such as Hayes & Yeading and Gateshead barely get 400 people. Is that right?
I love it when the so-called big ex-League clubs come down to the Blue Square Premier as the majority of their fans have the arrogance that they shouldn’t be here, etc, etc. The majority of the teams that come down don’t usually go straight back up which gives an indication that the Blue Square Premier is a good League. The away following of the ex-league clubs does help the smaller clubs in terms of finances when they visit. We usually get between 900-1,000 but this usually increases to 1,500-2,000 when an ex-League club comes visiting.

What are the best expectations for the season?
Realistically it’s still got to be to finish just above the bottom 4. With the announcement that we have purchased our Ground last week (see here for details), this should give us something to build on for the future of the club and help us achieve our aim of getting into the football league in a few years time…..hopefully!

You can sign one player on a free – who would it be?
Thierry Henry. I’ve had the pleasure to watch, live, many great footballers around the world but he’s one of the best I’ve seen. Maybe more on our level, I would always welcome back Charlie MacDonald from Brentford. Whilst only having Charlie with us for a couple of seasons, he was without doubt a class goalscorer and probably the best finisher in I’ve seen in a Fleet shirt since the great days of our all-time leading goalscorer, Mr Stevie Portway.

Thanks Glenn for the update.  We will be down to Stonebridge Road later in the season for the game versus Luton Town in March next year.  For details of our previous trip, have a read of the post here.