Untold Non-League: Daventry Town FC 3-2 Ramsgate FC
Attendance 215 (including Untold’s intrepid reporter!)
Communication Park, home of DTFC
Once again no ‘proper’ football only pointless internationals (and them not at weekends) meant that I decided to look around to see what was on offer at my local football grounds. I hit upon Daventry Town FC, who currently sit seventh in the Calor Southern League Central division. However this is a false position as Daventry have only played 9 matches (winning 8 and only losing one). So they lie 9 points behind the leaders (Barton) but with 6 games in hand. A sleeping giant is awakening in Northamptonshire…
Daventry Town were founded in 1886 (the year in which all the best teams were formed I’m sure you’ll agree!) but have never graced the higher leagues. I guess this helps to demonstrate that opportunity, drive, location, skill and a lot of luck help explain why some clubs from the early years of football survive, some excel and others disappear without trace.
Handshakes at kick off (Liam Dolman in the centre of shot)
In fact DTFC nearly vanished in 2005 when a devastating fire hit their ground. Fortunately they recovered from that and now play at a very smart arena which could hold 3,000. There weren’t 3,000 there today but those that were witnessed a great game of football.
The ground has a really nice bar and facilities with, unusually, a sort of patio standing area on the first floor. This is the place to watch the game because you get great views across the pitch and can nip in to finish your pint (alcohol is not allowed outside at FA Trophy matches). My only grumble today was that there was no programme (‘the suppliers let us down’) and the photocopied team sheets were changing hands at outrageous amounts*. Still, I had enough to know what was going on.
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Warren Schultz (Ramsgate)
Daventry (in purple) made the best start, taking the game to the Kent side. The ball spent most of its time in the air though – a bobbly pitch not helping either team play much football – but there were flashes of skill. On the Rams’ side I thought Warren Schulz looked like a fairly decent player who commanded the middle of the pitch and looked to get involved all over the place. For the home team Scott Cross impressed up front and MoTM Liam Dolman was a commanding figure in more ways than one.
Ramsgate’s grumpy kit man – he didn’t get a team sheet!
Just under a quarter of an hour Tom Lorraine (do they call him ‘quiche’?, they should) was hauled down by a typically industrial tackle and Scott Cross scored after a scramble in the box. Daventry now dominated and Scott nearly scored again but hit the bar. However, the home fans didn’t have to wait long for Tom James to double the lead. 2-0 at half time and Daventry in cruise control.
I had a wander at the break and for the much of the second half. I chatted to two elderly Arsenal fans who, like Tony and I, go and watch local non-league games when the Arsenal are not playing. Before them I’d been trying to chat to the volunteer who collects the balls from behind the goal when they fly over the fence into the copse behind.
The copse behind the goal
I didn’t catch his name, in fact I only caught about a third of what he said. He wasn’t local, he was from the Black Country. For those Untold readers that have no idea where that is follow this link . The accent is incredible and very hard to penetrate. I did get that he earns his dinner and ‘a cuppa teay’ for retrieving the ball every so often. He must be the oldest ball boy in the world!
I got back up into ‘club level’ just in time to see Ian Pulman grab a gaol back for the visitors. 2-1, game on. Well not really because Chris Murphy scored a superb goal to restore the two gaol advantage.
Second half action
From then on it was a lively game as Ramsgate pressed and the home side continued to look capable of scoring more. Ramsgate did manage a second goal with about five minutes to go, David Pitcher scoring when it seemed like at least 3 Ramsgate players were offside. In true non-league tradition the linesman got a fearsome amount of stick from on and off the pitch. Daventry held on and progress to the next round, Ramsgate and their handful of fans and vocal chairman, can go home with their heads held high.
Apart from me there was one other celebrity visitor to the ground. I became aware of this when I heard the home fans signing ‘England’s number one’ after their keeper (Richard Morris) had pulled off a good save from Oliver Schultz (presumably brother to Warren). The ironic chant was aimed at Ben Foster the former England, West Brom, Birmingham and United goalie. Looking down there he was, happily sipping tea and signing an autograph for an excited fan.
Ben Foster makes a youngster’s day
So all in all this was another good day out. Nice atmosphere, good game, very friendly locals and informed football fans. All that for £8. Get involved, you won’t regret it.