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The Conference Years: Margate FC

3 June 2014

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Remembering where we once were.

Margate FC currently reside in the mid-table comfort of the Isthmian Premier Division, or seventh tier of English football.

Managed by former AFC Wimbledon boss Terry Brown, the Kent seaside resort will be hoping to ascend the leagues in a similar fashion to the phoenix club.

Following promotion from the Southern League in 2001, The Gate and Rovers first crossed paths in October later that year when Rovers travelled to Hartsdown Park.

The visitors were very nearly embarrassed too, by the ten men, who took the lead on half time before Justin Jackson’s injury time equaliser saved the visitors blushes.

Dave Penney presided over the return at Belle Vue in February ’02 with Jamie Paterson’s second half penalty settling matters.

The sides would meet again the following season at The Crabble, home of Dover Athletic as Margate were forced in to a groundshare. Their home comforts moved the twenty miles with them, however, as The Gate ran out 2-1 winners in front of just over 1,000 spectators. Steve Watts and Paul Lamb put the game to bed before Paul Green could respond.

Nearly 3,000 attended the return in South Yorkshire as Rovers’ play-off push gathered momentum. Goals from Jason Blunt and Paul Barnes (2) saw off the visitors despite Jean-Michel Sigere’s consolation.

The problem of the matter for Margate, however, lied with their ground. After three years of sharing local grounds, the Football Conference squeezed them out in 2004.

It hasn’t exactly been plain sailing since then either. By the time they returned to their newly redeveloped ground, they were in the seventh tier and on the verge of folding.

2009 brought fresh worries over unpaid debts and lowly finishes didn’t help. Other club’s financial difficulties were more severe, though and they survived and continue to do so to this day.

*A bizarre photo taken at The Crabble in September 2002. Rovers ‘keeper Andy Warrington tries in vain to latch on to a corner late in the game to salvage a point for the visitors, who, despite Paul Green’s late strike went on to lose 2-1 in front of 1,002 fans*

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