I kind of knew what to expect from this one. Research had told me about the history of Crockenhill FC and a knowledge of The SCEFL First Division gave me the insight that this would be a one way contest so it wasn’t really a surprise when I visited the dated Wested Meadow and saw K Sports win 8-0 in front of one man and his dog.
To be fair there was no dog, there was also 20 men or women but it certainly is a dated venue for a modern day football match, albeit at step 6 in Non League. The long approach along the winding country lane from Crockenhill village was a pleasant stroll even though I had my two boys in tow as Christmas shopping commitments meant they couldn’t stay in the warmth of home with mum and were to to take a step back in time with me and my addiction to proper football. Last week they had been to Wembley for a game, I was about to show them life at the other end of the football scale.
The Club dates back to 1946 and the ground is famous for being the site for a barrage balloon during the war and since then the club has transformed a former Nissen hut into a grandstand and clubhouse area. On the footballing side they have generally operated around the higher levels of the various Kent League, a lack of floodlights being a reason they have no realistic chance of advancing further. That lack of light also meant to this game kicking off at 2pm so we could just fit in the action before the darkness took over.
The League table showed all we needed to know about the differences between these two teams on the field. K Sports sit proudly at the top while at the other end Crockenhill hold everyone else up. Predictions were in, the boys were expecting 5 and 6 goals to nil. I had more faith and went for 4-1 defeat for the home side.
K Sports lining up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation started well, very well. Matt Gething opened the scoring on 5 minutes when he turned and shot from the edge of the area giving the keeper little chance. His strike partner Caine Smith added to the scoreline on 13 when he headed home to make it 2-0. It was 3-0 on 20 minutes when the Crockenhill keeper failed to clear a corner and Gething poked home his second. It should and could have been more before half time as Gething missed a sitter from five yards and the woodwork was tested on more than one occassion. Standing behind this goal we were getting peppered constantly by long ranged efforts but the Crockenhill defence held out and were able to go into half time just 3-0 down.
This gave us the chance to read the programme and view the facilities so we followed others to find a quite impressive clubhouse serving food and drink. Decked in various club scarves and with numerous framed pictures from Crockenhill’s history this place was certainly not what I expected in when looking from the outside. Beer for me and burgers for the boys, what more could you want? Well, selection boxes might not have been on the wish list but Steve the Crockenhill Chairman was in the Christmas spirit and kindly gave my lads a box each. A great touch, well done.
We only just made it out in time to witness goal four in the first few minutes of the second half. Caine Smith was now on two for the game and the race was on for who would get a hat-trick first! Matt Gething won that race as he headed home from a corner on 58 minutes to make it 5-0. Not to be outdone Smith got his third just after and then bettered Gething by getting a fourth. At 7-0 down Crockenhill still showed spirit and had a few attempts themselves, they even had a penalty shout but unfortuantely K Sports were on a different level to them and proved it late in the game when Richard Butler scored a beauty from outside the area. They had saved the best until last and it capped off an impressive display from a side surely to be playing in a higher division to this next season.
The game had ended 8-0 leaving both teams four points away from their nearest competitors in the table. I don’t see how that can change dramatically as the season progresses, at this level K Sports are very good, Crockenhill are not good enough it’s as simple as that. As we left for that walk down the lane we wished the regulars a Merry Christmas and discussed what we had just experienced. The boys loved their trip to the past, they appreciated the play from the away team, they enjoyed the Countryside setting and historic venue, they loved seeing eight goals in a game and they definitely enjoyed the selection boxes. Well, you don’t get all of that at Wembley do you?
Merry Christmas, Dean