Saturday 26 June 2021

Folkestone Invicta - Cheriton Road

Folkestone Invicta FC
The Buzzlines Stadium
Cheriton Road
CT19 5JU

Official Website

Ground Number: 153
Saturday 13th March 2010
Folkestone Invicta 0-0 Leatherhead
Ryman League - Division 1 South


Folkestone Invicta FC was established in 1936. At first, they played in local leagues such as the East Kent Amateur League. At some point, they joined the Kent County League. They won Division 1 East in 1970 and the Premier Division in 1979. Having played at a basic venue at South Road in Hythe, the demise of Folkestone FC was a blessing for Invicta, who took over their ground. They were able to join the Kent League (known as the SCEFL nowadays) in 1990 and were Division 2 champions in 1992. In 1998, they finished as runners-up to Herne Bay in Division 1. This earned them promotion to the Southern League's second-tier and the success continued as a runners-up spot behind Fisher Athletic in 2000 saw the club promoted to the Premier Division. The 2001/02 season saw the club enjoy its record finish as they finished 13th in the Southern Premier - which at the time was step 2 of the non-league pyramid. The team were relegated the following season but bounced back straight away - a 5th place finish in 2004 was good enough for 'promotion' although they were placed in the Isthmian Premier. This was now a step 3 league following the introduction of the Conference North & South. Relegation followed in 2008 and although they finished as runners-up to Croydon Athletic in 2010 and won promotion through the playoffs they only lasted a season by once more being relegated. Invicta would spend five more seasons in Isthmian D1 South - losing out in the playoffs in 2014 and 2015 before going up as champions in 2016. Since then, they have managed to stick around in the Premier Division. They finished 4th in 2018 but lost out to Hendon in the playoff semi-finals. The last two abandoned seasons also saw the team finish around the playoffs.

In the FA Cup, Folkestone Invicta's best progress came in 2005. The season they beat Egham Town, St Margaretsbury, Staines Town and Aylesbury United before a narrow 2-1 defeat at Chester City in the 1st Round. In the FA Trophy, the club has reached the 3rd Round on three occasions. In the FA Vase, their best run came in the last season competed as they lost 2-1 at Great Wakering Rovers in a 1998 4th Round tie. Local cup wins include the Kent League D2 Cup in 1992, the Les Leckie Cup in 1991 and the Kent Intermediate Shield in 1991. The club's record attendance of 2,332 came in 1996 for a benefit match following bad flooding in the town. Manager Harry Redknapp bought a strong side down that included Julian Dicks, Stan Lazaridis, Paulo Futre and Frank Lampard. The club's record appearance holder is Michael Everitt with 753 appearances, Michael Dryden the record scorer with 141 goals. Remarkably, manager Neil Cugley has been in charge since 1997, making him the joint longest-serving manager in football, along with Bacup Borough's Brent Peters.

There have been a number of football clubs in Folkestone, although the history is a tad confusing with so many name changes. The most successful and famous of these was Folkestone FC, formed in 1894. They were also known as Folkestone Town (1945 - 1968) and Folkestone & Shepway (1974 - 1980). The club went bust in 1990, briefly reformed but didn't even last the season. In terms of league success, 1983 & 1984 saw them finish 7th in the Southern Premier. Their real success came in the FA Cup when they reached the 3rd Round in 1933 (after beating Norwich City) and 1966 (after beating Gillingham). The port town of Folkestone has a population of just under 47,000. Other sports represented in the town include Rugby, Cricket, Netball, grass track motorcycling, hockey and bowls. Famous people to come from or live in Folkstone include actress June Brown, sports commentator Gerald Sinstadt and chef Phil Vickery. Football's Jimmy Hill was stationed at Folkestone Garrison during the Second World War, during which time he entertained troops and played for the local football team.


I was down visiting relatives in Kent for the weekend and so my choice for football was narrowed down to just one choice. Luckily it was a ground I had not seen a match at yet, namely Folkestone Invicta's Cheriton Road ground. I had been looking at the local paper beforehand and there were comments about Folkestone's negative style of football despite them being top of the Ryman League Division 1 South. These views turned out to be true, as I watched a dire 0-0 draw. The opponents were Leatherhead, themselves hoping for a late-season charge into the playoffs, at the time they were in the top half of the table, with a good chance of climbing a few places if they got a good run together. As I have said, the game was poor, but I still enjoyed my day at this friendly club.


After a six-day break, I was keen to get my 2021/22 season off and running. My long-term plan was to go to Herne Bay v Grays Athletic, a new ground for me. However, the home club was not listing it amongst their games and in the end, it turned out it had been cancelled. However, a day on the Kent Coast was attractive and so with fellow hopper Colin keen to do Folkestone, I decided to revisit there. My memories of my 2010 visit included an excellent club shop, another shop selling random stuff and having a Wispa Gold for the first time. Since then, I'd been keen to revisit and give the club a proper write-up. They appeared to have some decent food on offer at their tea bar and were also very helpful and friendly on Twitter. I started doing my research the previous Sunday. The train was fairly priced at £31.80 return with my railcard and I lined up a few pubs to have a good pre-match. The week before saw me watch England beat the Czech Republic 1-0. It was a fairly uninspiring contest but England were through to the 2nd Round without conceding a goal. Next up for us is a game against Germany, who scraped through a tricky group, next Tuesday. Thursday saw the fixtures for Wycombe come out. Typically and as per the usual farce that surrounds the EFL, they announced on Wednesday night at 11.30 that Wycombe's and Derby's fixtures would be interchangeable. This was due to Derby breaking some financial rules. Even more farcically, they gave Derby until 18th August to file their accounts, by which time, we will be three games into the new season. It stinks of kicking the can down the road in a case where they have dithered and dawdled already. 

Friday night was a sober night in, which was a bit of a pain after a hard day. But I like to try and stick to only drinking two days a week if possible. After an early night, I awoke at 5 am on the day and watched TV for a couple of hours. I ended up leaving later than intended but still made the station with 15 minutes to spare. By the time I'd bought my ticket and got to the platform, it was only a short wait for my train. I was at Marylebone just after 9.40, meeting Colin at Baker Street ten minutes later. There was supposed to be a larger group coming earlier in the week, but they dropped out for varying reasons. We took the Underground to King's Cross and then it was a leisurely walk to St Pancras. With a 25 minute wait until my train, I thought about a pint in Wetherspoons but decided to wait. The train was very quick, leaving at 10.34 and taking around 50 minutes to get to Folkestone. It was then a 15-minute walk to the Samuel Peto Wetherspoons where I had a pint and a half of Gwynt Y Ddraig Black Dragon whilst Colin stuck with the more sensible option of Apple Juice and Crisps. We then headed to the Kipps Alehouse where the Cider selection was disappointing and the Super Pizza menu was not as good as expected. So we headed back to Wetherspoons and I had a curry sauce and chips along with another pint of Black Dragon. Then we had a nice explore of the harbour before getting to the ground at 2.20. I had a good look in the brilliant club shop, hoping to find a programme from my last visit. No such luck, but I did find a few old books for £2, a right bargain.


It was an unremarkable first half. Usually, it may have been me on the drink, missing stuff. It's happened before at Kidderminster, Maldon and Droylsden but this time it was Colin dozing on my shoulder. As for the action on the pitch, Scott Heard won a 50/50 ball and placed it ahead of the visiting keeper to give his team the lead. An excellent cross and a header from Ian Draycott made it 2-0. The third goal was a great effort from a tight angle, a low shot that gave the keeper no chance, this time by Alfie Paxman. That was the score at the break, but around five minutes into the second half, David Smith scored in a similar fashion to the opener. Sen to the opener. Several changes to both sides signalled a change in fortunes. A free-kick saw them reduce the arrears and then another late on made it 4-2, giving the scoreline a more respectable look. Over 500 were in attendance so I heard, a mighty fine showing for a pre-season game

After the game, we met up with a Mackem hopper, Graydon, who had come from the Midlands, near Northfield. I wanted to get to the 17:02 train to London which was nice. We had a good chat on the way home, watching the Wales v Denmark game. I decided to hold off doing my blog, due to the number of photos on my 'big' camera. The journey across London was fine and I left Colin at King's Cross as he had to go to Amersham. I stopped at the Met Bar between Baker Street and Marylebone, a bottle of Westons at my 206th Spoons. I got back to Marylebone in time for the 7 PM train. This said on the 'scoreboard' that it was due to stop at High Wycombe at 7.23 but when I got on, the announcer started blathering about stopping at Banbury only. The info boards on the train revealed naff all but it was all OK in the end. I walked home, getting back at 8.40 and taking part in the latter part of the quiz. Wales had been thumped earlier but it took Italy extra time to overcome Austria.


CHERITON ROAD is a great non-league ground. 3 sides are covered - the whole of behind one of the goals, a section along the side and a large main stand with seated accommodation. The other end is uncovered terracing. There is a newly refurbished bar at the ground too, all wooden floors and plasma screens, a bit like Wycombe's "Scores" bar. Best of all there are TWO club shops - one offers the usual souvenirs, as well as a large selection of old programmes and books. And in a first that I have seen at a football ground, there is another that offers general bric-a-brac, old TV's, clothes and any other sort of thing that you would expect to find at a jumble sale!. Some of the pictures of the outside are from when I visited in the 1990s but not for a game.


CHERITON ROAD is still an excellent ground. It has lost an area of cover and has a smaller stand now - around 400, but is still well worth a visit. There's a decent size terrace behind the goal, cover for nearly 1000. The rest of the ground is open, including the old stand. There's an excellent club shop plus a tea bar with a great range of excellent but costly food. The town is about 20 minutes away and includes a decent Wetherspoons.


Thursday 24 June 2021


2020/21 STATS

Games: 69 (lowest since 09/10)
Home Goals: 157
Away Goals: 133
Total Goals: 290 (lowest since 11/12)
Goals per game: 4.2
Most Goals: Twyford & Ruscombe 5-7 Richings Park Reserves 
Wycombe games: 2 (lowest ever)
Non-Wycombe games: 67
New Grounds: 54


Anwar: 31 (plus 3 others by train/walking)
Drove on my own: 23
Colin: 9 (plus 2 others)
George: 4
Thomas: 3
Giles: 3
Public Transport: 3
Walked: 2
Paul: 1
Chris: 1
Got lift: 1


Most Expensive: Potters Bar Town v Concord Rangers (£12)
Cheapest: 33 games (£0)

Most Expensive: Newhaven v Corinthian (£32)
Cheapest: Prestwood, Reading City & Wycombe (£0)
Miles driven: 8109

EXTRAS: £142
This figure includes programmes and some food and drink
If it's 'real cider' or a new 'tick' I don't count it towards football costs
The same applies to when I have something special food-wise

TOTAL: £1058
Average £15.33 per game
Cheapest on both counts since I've been keeping records (2011 onwards)


Total: 8940
Average: 130
Highest: Wycombe Wanderers v Coventry City (1999)
Lowest: Prestwood v Watlington Town (8)


YES: 29
NO: 33
N/A: 7

2020/21 AWARDS

The game was a bit of a dead rubber as far as the Spartan South Midlands post-season competition was concerned. Both teams had all been eliminated but it didn't stop them serving up a topsy-turvy game with some great goals. The club officials being friendly helped, as did being in good company.

This had been a long term aim for me to visit and I was delighted to be able to tick it off at long last. A really unique venue set in a semi grass bowl. This means that you can get a great view from up high on the bank or use the small area of cover if it is raining.

What with restrictions and the lack of games via public transport, pubs were few and far between. This one came on my first public transport game of the year after restrictions were eased. A decent selection of drinks and excellent but pricey food was the order of the day, but it was nice to treat myself after so long.

I do like a good portion of salt and chilli chips and a Chinese takeaway on the way to Kirby Muxloe did the trick. Great prices, food and service meant that this topped my ratings league for all my Chinese takeaways visited. 

This club was well known for their food before my visit. They didn't disappoint and I spent a tenner at the tea bar having Chicken Kebab, Curry Roll, Samosas and Chips. All were excellent.

411 views for this blog, small fry compared to some blogs but the club retweeting it helped. Or maybe it was people as desperate to read something as I was to get to a game. It was my first match for four and a half months due to restrictions. 

A much shorter version of the awards compared to last season, I hope that we can be back to normal by the start of the new season.