'It was a feisty affair'
By Kent and Sussex Courier | Friday, August 24, 2012, 08:00
COUNCIL meetings, fetes, fashion shows and election nights. I've done them all in the past decade as Tunbridge Wells chief reporter, but a football match was the last frontier for me.
UNDER PRESSURE: Wells keeper Chris Oladogba goes to catch the ball
NEW FACE: Mary Harris on the Culverden terrace
Sport editor Glenn Garrett suggested I go along to my home town club – what he didn't tell me was I was being thrown into the lion's den. You see, Erith & Belvedere have a whole host of former Tunbridge Wells players in their ranks. It would be a feisty affair.
Tunbridge Wells supporters were keen to help Erith with advice from the offing. Within minutes of the whistle, they were yelling: "Throw your handbags in the goal" and "You weren't supposed to eat the ball, goalie".
It was touching to see that level of support for a visiting team.
And Wells fans were only too happy to keep it coming, bellowing: "Oh, silky, mate, silky" and "are you colour blind or what"? and "who ate all the pies"?
But it didn't look as though Erith and Belvedere needed much help. They had three pocket-sized players who were very, very quick. It was hot and humid. The ground was hard, "bumpy and unpredictable" – which means the ball can be a bit mental.
The heat saw players blowing like Cheltenham Gold Cup winners within the first 15 minutes.
Erith and Belvedere seemed to be everywhere in the first half – a lot of the play was at the end where they shoot. Wells supporters predicted they'd be tired and heads down in the second half, but not so.
The Tunbridge Wells goalie, Chris Oladogba, made some great saves, while there was also some nifty Ronaldo-like footwork from Andy McMath.
Half an hour in, Erith's Carl Cornell, also known as Hooley - a former Wells player – got a goal and someone in the crowd told Tunbridge Wells to "get off your sun loungers" and they did just that, pulling a goal back before half-time from the penalty spot with Andy McMath slotting home.
After the interval crowd favourite Jack Harris scored and suddenly Tunbridge Wells were 2-1 up. Erith's number 9 had a chance, but he booted it over the cross bar to The Pantiles, which was stupid.
The game then got heated and young Harris got sent off. Fans said Harris going off was the pivotal part of the game – but I still think the blues looked nippier.
With Tunbridge Wells one man down, Erith's Richmond Kissi scored a great goal, before scoring again to win the game. They all jumped around and kissed him – it was all a bit girlie.
Wells boss Martin Larkin said he was "disappointed by the result" and said Harris being set off "massively changed the game". Well who am I to disagree?