Sunday, 9 September 2018

Ramsgate - Southwood Stadium

Ramsgate FC
Southwood Stadium
Prices Avenue
CT11 0AN

01843 591662

Ground Number: 792
Saturday 8th September 2018
Ramsgate 1-1 Sevenoaks Town
FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round


The current club was established in 1945 as Ramsgate Athletic though there is a history of Ramsgate FC as far back as 1886, albeit a different club. They kept the 'Athletic' suffix up until 1972, The club was three times Kent League champions, a competition they entered upon formation. Despite only finishing 11th in 1959, they joined the Southern League. Starting out in the second tier Division 1, they won promotion in 1972 as runners-up to Waterlooville, a difference of just 3 goals denying them the title. Ramsgate would only last for a single season in the Southern Premier, but again it was the fine margin of goal difference that sealed their fate. Despite finishing as high as 4th in Division 1 in 1975, finances meant that they dropped back down to the Kent League the following year. They'd remain here for a while and despite a couple of rock-bottom finishes, remained in the top tier. Ramsgate were crowned champions in 1999 but waited until their next title in 2005 to take the promotion. They continued the success and a brilliant 2005/06 season saw the join the Isthmian League and win Division 1 in their first season. Promotion to the Premier Division followed and despite 9th and 5th place finishes in their first two seasons, they finished rock-bottom in 2009 and were promptly relegated. Since then, they've played in the Isthmian D1 South with finishes ranging from 7th in 2013 to 21st in 2015.

Ramsgate have reached the FA Cup 1st Round twice, the latest occasion being as recently as the 2005/06 season. That year the beat Merstham, Croydon Athletic, Southall, Walton & Hersham and Cirencester Town before a 2-0 defeat at Nuneaton Borough. The FA Trophy has yet to produce any memorable runs, with the best that the club has managed is the 3rd Qualifying Round. The FA Vase Quarter Final was reached at the turn of the century - Herne Bay, Lymington & New Milton, Berkhamsted Town & Woodbridge Town were beaten before a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Newcastle Town. Local honours include the Kent League Cup on six occasions, the Kent League Charity Sheild four times, the Kent Senior Trophy and Kent Senior Shield on three occasions apiece, the Kent Senior Cup in 1964, the Thames & Medway Combination Cup in 1960 and the Isthmian League Cup in 2008. A number of players have started out at Ramsgate before going on to better things and these include Liam Hatch who played for Barnet, Peterborough United, Luton Town and Darlington amongst others. 


I’d known for some time that I’d be free on this Saturday as Wycombe were playing at Charlton Athletic and I’d only been there last year. The plan was always to do a game in the FA Cup 1st Qualifying Round as I’m a big fan of the competition. There were three favoured ways for me do it - double up with the 12:30 kick off on the BBC (ruled out as I’d already been to Maltby Main), combine with a Friday night kick off (ruled out because I’d gone to a more local game) or do something on the train. The latter option was taken, although it wasn’t as economical as I’d have wanted. I managed to bag tickets to Ramsgate for around £21 return from London Bridge and combined with me using my contactless card as an Oyster card, it meant that I was able to travel for a similar cost to what it would have cost me in petrol. It would mean leaving earlier and going on specific trains but I was happy to make those concessions as I’d be able to have a few pints and relax on the journey.

On the day of the game, I was knackered when I awoke, having only had under 5 hours of sleep thanks to a late night. I got up at 7, rushing around and getting out of the house within 20 minutes. I was at the station soon after and with my journey to London Bridge familiar I could have done it in my sleep. I had around 40 minutes to kill and so bought a newspaper. My train came at 9.20 and I was glad to get a table so I could have a bash at the crossword for some of the 2-hour journey. I got into Ramsgate at 11.20 and picked up a few bits in the shops including some olive oil ear drops as I had a blocked up ear. These didn’t solve the problem straight away so I headed to Wetherspoons to cheer myself up. The Royal Victoria Pavilion was huge but was poor for fans of decent cider. So I left without imbibing, instead, taking the short walk to the Hovelling Boat Inn which turned out to be an excellent Micropub. I had a couple of pints, firstly Biddenden Dry and then Kentish Pip Summer Session. After those, I headed off to the ground. I had a half pound egg burger at a local cafe along the way as well as some Chips. Entry was above average at £10 and I also bought an old book, a programme and a pen for £4.

It was a good club but it was a shame that the team didn't match up. Sevenoaks took the lead on 9 minutes, a cross from the right was headed in by Rob Saunders from around 8 yards out. Ramsgate didn't seem to care, either that or the Sevenoaks team were exceptional at stifling them for the rest of the first half. I had a decent portion of chips at halftime, though the second half didn't improve much. A few token efforts were made to attack but they came to nothing. Around 70 minutes in, the hosts equalised, a long punt forward was bundled into the net by Aaron Millbank. The rest of the game fizzled out, Sevenoaks looking like they were happy with the replay. Ramsgate did improve a bit, getting behind the visitors' defence on a couple of occasions but they lacked quality.

So, it hadn’t been the greatest of contests and it was by far my most expensive day of the season, pushing £50 all in. I had a fair amount of time to kill and so I jogged to the NauticAles Micropub. It was around a mile away so I was pretty knackered when I got there. I’d inadvertently forget my earphones in the rush to leave earlier but the replacements that I’d bought from Poundland were doing an OK job. I got a friendly welcome at the pub and had a retry, a Duddas Tun Perry. It had been a good day for drinking, all these beverages not counting towards my football costs as it was a separate hobby. I got back to the station after another lengthy walk at 6. It was 20 minutes wait for my train and I was glad to be heading home, listening to the commentary of the England match on the way. It was a pretty seamless journey with me only having to wait 5 minutes for each train. I got back to Amersham at 9.35 and stopped at Tesco on the way back to get some stuff for tomorrow's breakfast. I got in at 10, sorting out today's pictures whilst watching the Football League highlights. I then watched highlights of the England game. I was wide awake so I watched YouTube videos until 1 am, which meant I only got three hours of sleep before work the next morning.


The Southwood Stadium is an old-school non-league ground. There are two areas of cover - a seated stand holding 500 and a covered terrace around the same size (at least according to the 1993 Non-League directory. There is extensive terracing elsewhere around the ground, giving it an overall capacity of 2,500. There's a decent club shop with a good range of merchandise as well as old programmes and books.

The tea bar is also pretty good, the portion of chips that I had were of decent quality and portion size. I didn't check out the bar, but the ground is around a mile from the town. Here you can find a great range of pubs and takeways, my favourite of which is The Hovelling Boat Inn which is a great MicroPub. 

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