Football: Buglione can burst net for Bloodvessel

FA Cup Countdown: Kevin Keegan and Ray Wilkins will be taking their Fulham side on a day trip to the Kent coast on Sunday for an FA Cup tie against a team with an eventful history in the competition.

Margate are making the most of their few days of fame prior to Sunday's FA Cup first-round tie against Fulham in the Kent seaside town. The players, the manager and club officials are becoming accustomed to the cameras of Sky TV, which will be broadcasting the match. The club's main sponsor, the bald, beer-bellied pop singer Buster Bloodvessel, is loudly celebrating his brief return to the limelight.

Strangely, for a 101-year-old club who are members of the Southern (now Dr Martens) League, this is Margate's first appearance in the FA Cup first round since 1972 - before some members of their current squad were born and before anyone had heard of Mr Bloodvessel's pop group, Bad Manners.

Margate reached the FA Cup first round for the first time in 1929 when they gained a notable 2-0 win at their Kent rivals, and members of the Third Division South, Gillingham. In 1972 they beat another Third Division side, Swansea, 1-0 at home. Another 1-0 win in the second round at the Isthmian League outfit Walton & Hersham earned Margate the sort of third- round tie that every non- League club dreams of: at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

It is an occasion that Margate's secretary Ken Tomlinson, who has been watching the team for 51 years, remembers well. "Spurs travelled to Kent on the Friday and stayed the night in a hotel in Margate," he recalled this week. "They mixed with a lot of people in the town and made a big impression.

"The following day - Saturday was always the football day then - we had a huge crowd at Hartsdown Park [their picturesque stadium]. The attendance figure we published was 8,500, because that was the police limit, but when we counted the gate money we realised we had 14,500 in.

"Spurs were only 1-0 up at half-time," Tomlinson added. "It was an even first half, but they scored five more in the second half." For the record, Tottenham's scorers in their 6-0 win were Martin Chivers with two, the late Cyril Knowles, John Pratt, Jimmy Pearce and Martin Peters. No one has scored a goal in the FA Cup proper at Hartsdown Park since.

The previous season, 1971-72, Margate suffered a far heavier FA Cup defeat. Drawn away to Bournemouth in the first round, they came up against a prolific striker who went on to play for Manchester United and Scotland. Ted McDougall scored nine goals, which remains an FA Cup record, as hapless Margate were thrashed 11-0.

For Margate's goalkeeper, the former Brentford man Chic Brodie, who had also hit the headlines a year earlier when he was badly bitten by a dog during a game at Colchester, it was another embarrassing experience. For Bournemouth it was sweet revenge, though, for the last time they had faced Margate in the FA Cup they had been humiliated on their own ground.

In 1961 Margate had hammered Bournemouth 3-0 at Dean Court in the first round before going out to another Third Division side, Notts County. "That was the best Margate team I've seen," Tomlinson claimed.

Their much-respected manager then was Almer Hall, who was in charge at Hartsdown Park for 21 years. An inside-forward with Tottenham and West Ham, his playing career was interrupted by the Second World War. He arrived at Margate as player-manager in 1949 and did not relinquish control of the team until 1970.

Margate have reached the third round of the Cup only twice: their encounter with Tottenham described above, and in 1935-36. That was their second season as a nursery club for Arsenal. A former Gunners player, Jack Ramsey, was their manager, and they could borrow promising young and other fringe players from Highbury. Arsenal paid 60 per-cent of the wages of these loaned players, and they arranged for the pitch at Hartsdown Park to be reduced to exactly the same size as Highbury's. Arsenal's first-team squad regularly trained on it.

With Reg Lewis, who scored the Gunners' goals in their 2-0 win over Liverpool in the 1950 FA Cup final, and Jack Lambert, who had played in the 1930 and '32 finals for Arsenal, in their side, Margate beat Queen's Park Rangers 3-1 in the first round in 1935. But it was a local lad who was the hero of their second-round win over Crystal Palace. Jimmy Evans scored a hat- trick in Margate's 3-0 triumph. "He was a printer at Thanet Press in the town," Tomlinson remembered. "He died only two years ago."

On Sunday, the locals packed in to the now-6,000 capacity Hartsdown Park, and the neutrals watching on television, will be looking for a new hero who can perhaps emulate Evans, or at least score one goal, against Ray Wilkins' Fulham side.

It could be Martin Buglione, who was sold to St Johnstone for a healthy fee in 1992 but has since returned to Kent. It could be Mark Munday or Paul Lamb, who, along with goalkeeper Lee Turner, played for Gravesend & Northfleet in the third round of the Cup at Aston Villa in January last year.

Under the experienced managership of Chris Kinnear, who took Dover into the GM Vauxhall Conference, Margate will be well prepared. It could be their day.

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