Otham Sports Club
Ground Number: 1038
Saturday 12th February 2022
Bearsted 2-1 K Sports
BEARSTED FC - A BRIEF HISTORY
The club was established in 1895 and would later go on to join the Maidstone & District League. They progressed through the divisions, winning Division 6 in 1962, Division 3 in 1973, Division 2 in 1975 and Division 1 in 1978 to reach the Premier Division. They won the top tier league three times, moving up to the Kent County League in 1983. The rapid progress continues and they won Division 2 West in their first season and then Division 1 the season after. A couple of runners-up spots followed in the Premier Divison before they won that in 1987. They moved up to the Senior Division and once again, they claimed the title in their first season. 1992 saw a big restructure in Kent football and Bearsted were placed in Division 1 West of the reformed league, They were runners-up in 1996, before winning it the following year to win promotion 'back' to the Premier Division. They were champions twice more and during this time, moved ground to Otham to cope with the more stringent ground grading regulations. Following some mid-table finishes, Bearsted FC was invited to join the newly-formed Kent Invicta League, which later became the SCEFL D1. They were runners-up to Hollands & Blair in 2015, before winning the title in 2016 to earn promotion to the SCEFL Premier. They enjoyed their best-ever finish of 12th in their debut season and remain there to this day.
Bearsted have not seen a great deal of success in their five seasons in the FA Cup, reaching the Preliminary Round three times. The last time as this season when they overcame Banstead Athletic after a replay before a defeat to Burgess Hill Town. They've played six seasons in the FA Vase and five of these have seen them fall at the first hurdle. The exception to this produced a great run with them beating Bexhill United, Selsey, Beckenham Town, Newhaven, and Steyning Town before a 2-1 defeat to Abbey Rangers in the 4th Round. Local cup honours include the Kent Invicta Shield in 2016, two Kent County League cups and three Inter-Regional challenge cups.
The club represents the village of Bearsted, located two miles east of Maidstone. It has a population of 8,000 and has 59 listed buildings. The ground is situated in the far smaller village of Otham, with a population of 500. It's also home to Rumwood Cricket Club. In 1999, the club, or at least one of the junior teams - the Under 10's was featured on BBC's 999 TV show. Michael Buerk presented from Bromley FC about an incident when their team got struck by lightning at a tournament in Aylesford. As ever with this series, everyone survived but not without a bit of drama first.
Once again, I'd be taking a trip on the train on a Saturday and taking advantage of having my Network Railcard. Unlike most weeks, I'd decided well in advance that it was going to be Bearsted as it was the only ground that I needed to complete the SCEFL Premier. I had thought about doing it a couple of times before, but options that were simpler on public transport and gave more time for me pre-match always took precedence. I'd been to Bournemouth the previous week, getting back around 11.20. I finished my blog for that and watched TV before going to bed around 1. My alarm went off at 7.30 and after getting some breakfast and my things together, I left around 8.10.
It was a pleasant walk to the station and I had my ticket and was on the platform with five minutes to spare. The only annoying thing was the ticket machine not offering me a Plusbus ticket for Maidstone but I'd sort that later. The train was packed, as was the Underground but at least it was on time. I was at Victoria station fifteen minutes before my train was due to depart, but resisted the temptation for a pint at Wetherspoons. The train was a little quieter this time but not as nice a carriage as the Greater Anglia one last week. I got on with my blog, as having been pretty busy the last week, had not had time to do. The journey went pretty quickly and I pondered whether I could walk to the ground from Maidstone, as there wasn't a huge amount of difference in time between that and the bus. I was in Maidstone at 11.20 and with time to kill, headed to my 219th Wetherspoons, the Society Rooms. The cider offering was better than the app suggested, with me getting a pint of Stan's Big Apple for £3.10. After visiting the khazi, which was the main reason I came in, I decided that I fancied some food. Chicken Jalfrezi, chips and a bottle of Aspalls was superb value at £6.95. It was ten minutes walk to Ye Olde Thirsty Pig with me getting there at 12 45. A pint of Bushells was very good. It was a longer than expected walk to the ground and I was there 20 minutes before kickoff. It was £8 entry with programme. I headed straight to the cafe and got some 'gourmet fries' for £2.50 which were very well cooked. Neither side had shown much interest about tweeting about the game but I got out just in time for kick-off.
Bearsted were in reasonable form. In their last five games, they had beaten Holmesdale 1-0 and won 2-0 at Welling Town. They'd drawn 0-0 with Chatham Town and 2-2 with Canterbury City. Their only loss had come with a 3-0 defeat at Sheppey United. K Sports were in mixed form with them having lost in the League Cup on penalties to Deal Town in their latest game. They'd also lost 6-0 to Chatham and 4-3 to Welling Town but they'd won 2-0 at Tower Hamlets and 5-0 against Crowborough Athletic. Bearsted were well on top first half and they took the lead on 37 minutes from a successfully converted penalty by Sam Slace awarded for a foul. K Sports got a penalty of their own in the second half, correctly awarded but against the run of play on 51 minutes, this time by Herve Mbongue. That gave them the equaliser but on 66 minutes, Bearsted retook the lead, a low shot from 10 yards by Marvin Henschell following a well-worked move. It was fairly comfortable for the hosts but in injury time the K Sports #7 saw red for his reaction to a challenge. It seemed six of one and half a dozen of the other but the referee took a dim view of the retaliation.
The game was OK and Bearsted deserved their win. I had another hour walk back to town and hoped to listen to the radio on the way back. However, BBC Five Live was broadcasting rugby which I had no interest in. BBC Three Counties had been off-air all afternoon online, going offline much longer than it needed to block out the match commentary. I listened to TalkSPORT for a bit but it soon became unbearable and so I put my Porridge audiobook on. I was at the Fishermans Arms pub by 6.10. This was a decent place and I had a pint of Talking Horse 'Get On The Horse' cider. This was decent enough and I'd actually been quite sensible in comparison to last week, sticking to four pints. I walked back to Maidstone East station, arriving ten minutes before my 19:03 train. The aim would be to get back to Marylebone for the 21:00 train to High Wycombe which would get me back in 25 minutes. There might be time for a pint in between, but I'd play it by ear.
OTHAM SPORTS CLUB is set in pleasant woodland. It does the job for Bearsted with the standard couple of Arena stands. There's also a decent bar and cafe offering a range of options. There's plenty of parking and you can also get a bus to Maidstone, a few miles away. There's also a pub opposite the ground and if you wish to walk, it takes an hour to get to Maidstone.