Saturday 3rd October 2020 ko 15.00
Isthmian League South/East Division
HYTHE TOWN 0
PHOENIX SPORTS 4 (Ansah 53 Fitchett 57 Bryon 77 Chin 82)
Now I’m sure one of two groundhoppers will see an article on Hythe Town and think, “Surely he’s been there before?” After all my friend Andy Short is media officer there, you may remember he was at Whitstable Town too, he’s also secretary at the Southern Counties East League (now that’s interesting!) so why my tardiness? It’s because I wanted to travel to see Hythe Town by train!
Now the rail buffs amongst you will no doubt raise an eyebrow. Hythe BR station closed in 1951, but the Hythe terminus of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway is only around 5 minutes walk from the Reachfields Stadium. So my idea was to park the car 13 and-a-half miles away at the western end of the line at Dungeness, take a full-functioning third-scale steam train to football, then catch the train back to Dungeness afterwards. What could be simpler right?
Just about anything it seems. Right now the railway is running a highly restricted service due to Covid, so Robyn and I altered our plans. We parked at Hythe Station, travelled to Dungeness, spent a hour there, then took the train back an hour later. It wasn’t particularly logical, but I can claim that as we left Dungeness we were definitely travelling to football by third-scale steam railway!
Reachfields Stadium is one of those places that looks older than is. The club only moved here in 1977, before then the ground was an army sports ground, and there’s still an MOD firing range- insert here a suitable joke about shooting straight!
Even then most of what you see here originates from the 1980’s as Town stormed through the Kent (now SCEFL) League spending 3 seasons in the Southern League from 1989-1992 before being liquidated.
A phoenix club Hythe United entered the Kent County League for the 1992-3 season, they changed their name back to Town for the 2000-2001 season and regained their Step 4 status, this time in the form of the Isthmian League in 2011. They’ve played at this level ever since.
Unquestionably the most interesting feature of the ground is the main stand, or should I say main building, because is it really a stand in the literal sense? The seats are all in the base of the building; the first floor contains the secretary’s office, and bar area, with a series of balconies giving a view of the pitch rather than the deck of seats you’d expect to see there. Even downstairs much of the area that could be used for seats serves as dugouts!
Now I’m sure an architect could criticise its form and function, but in a world where to conform is to be seen as virtue, I looked and smiled at the individuality of it all. I’ve seen more than a few football grounds, and its lovely to see something different.
But back to Andy, because he’s also programme editor, and whilst this blog will never be a place for reviewing programmes, I’ll break my rule to recommend Andy’s efforts here; well worth £2 of your money. Unless of course he decides to replicate this in Hythe’s next programme. In that case you have my apologies!
You have my apologies too, if you’re a Hythe Town fan. I do have a certain reputation for jinxing clubs I visit, particularly if they happen to be like Hythe and are welcoming.
And here it really did feel like I was jinxing them; Hythe looked well-drilled by their manager former Chelsea professional Steven Watt and at half time they’d have wondered how on early they weren’t out of sight. But the second half was a different story as a weakness to pace, particularly on the flanks was their undoing.
Bexleyheath-based Phoenix I’m sure will admit 4-0 flattered them but it was the classic story of one side taking their chances when their opponents didn’t. I suppose I’ll now have to add Andy Short to the ever-growing list of people who’ll wince when they spot me watching their club. I don’t do it deliberately I promise!