Opening day games are always a tough one to judge. Promotions and relegations can’t be decided after just 90 minutes so all a manager can hope for is the plans he’s worked on in the previous eight weeks have paid off. The Rooks certainly go into the 2017/18 season in good mental shape, albeit with a few walking wounded. Whilst we lost influential players in the close-season such as Lloyd Harrington, Jack Dixon and Stephen Okoh, as well as Charlie Coppola who seems destined for bigger and better things, Darren has brought in a number of new faces that will strengthen the squad including experienced centre-half Frankie Chappell and centre-midfielder Bouwe Bosma from Eastbourne Borough.
Lloyd Cotton will be absent from tomorrow’s game as he serves a suspension carried over from last season, whilst Stacey Freeman is likely to be missing for a few months due to injury. There are the usual pre-season knocks and niggles but Darren can look forward to choosing from a strong squad, with potentially a new face or two likely to join the club in time for the game.
You can listen to Darren’s pre-season thoughts here.
About Herne Bay Football Club
Founded – 1886
Best league position – 8th Isthmian League South in 2015/16
Best FA Cup run – 4th Qualifying Round in 1986/87 – Lost 4-0 away to Farnborough
Ground Capacity – 4,000 (last season’s average 206)
How was last season?
After an 8th place finish in 2015/16, last season was relatively disappointing for Herne Bay as they finished the season in 17th place. Early season form wasn’t good – they had to wait until November for their first away win whilst suffering heavy defeats at Hastings United (7-0) and Faversham Town (6-3) and Guernsey (5-1). Sam Denly relinquished his post at the end of the season and the club are still looking for a new manager at the time of compiling this guide. Whoever it is will have to do without Mark Lovell and Danny Walder, two of the stars of the Herne Bay side who have moved up the A2 to Faversham Town.
Isthmian League South Division – 17th – P 46 W 13 D 12 L 21 GS 74 GA 54 GD +25 PTS 76
•FA Cup – First Qualifying Round – Lost at home to Hemel Hempstead Town 5-1
•FA Trophy – First Qualifying Round – Lost away at Harrow Borough 3-0 after a replay
•Kent Senior Cup – Second Round – Lost at home to Dover Athletic 1-0
•Isthmian League Cup – First Round – Lost at home to Hastings United on penalties
When did we last meet Herne Bay?
We went from never playing Herne Bay to playing them twice in the space of five days last season, recording two wins in the process. January is probably not the best time of the year to visit the Kent seaside but The Rooks certainly enjoyed their trip in January, running out 4-1 winners thanks to a hatrick from Stephen Okoh. After five minutes the home side could have taken the lead but Adria in the Rooks goal pulled off an excellent penalty save from Ian Pullman. Okoh grabbed two goals towards the end of the half, assisted by Charlie Coppola and Egli Kaja, then completed his hatrick in the opening minute of the second period after Charlie Coppola was fouled and the referee awarded a spot-kick. On-loan Kaja then scored a superb fourth, volleying in Brinkhurst’s cross. The only blemish on the night was conceding a goal at the other end in injury time.
Five days later and the teams met again at The Pan. James Hammond scored a trademark free-kick in the sixth minute to give the Rooks the lead but Herne Bay pulled level soon after Jack Dixon pulled down Mark Lovell and Danny Walder scored from the spot. Hammond scored his second in the 68th minute and the fourth penalty in the games between the two sides saw Jack Dixon score after Egli Kaja had been fouled.
About Winch’s Field
Winch’s Field boasts different styled four stands, floodlights and a well-appointed clubhouse which is regularly hired out for functions. The ground sits on the site of the former Winch’s brick yard, a Herne Bay landmark since Victorian times. The one stand that strikes you as unusual is the main stand. It is a large blue building, next to the bar, and houses the dressing rooms and dugouts. Behind both goals are covered terraces, with the east end being bigger in terms of height. There is a small covered stand on the south side of the ground which offers decent views. Whilst the ground is showing its age, it is a pleasantly rural setting, surrounded by trees.
How to get to Winch’s Field
Virtually all visitors will come via the A299 Thanet Way from the west. Take the junction for Herne Bay, going straight on at first roundabout and then left at the second (s/p Seafront). Follow this road until you pass under the railway bridge. Take the next left into Spenser Road and then the first left after about 200 yards into Stanley Road. The ground is on the left-hand side. There is plenty of parking at the ground or in the surrounding streets free of charge. It is just shy of a 100-mile trip from Lewes and should take around 1 hour 45minutes traffic permitting.
If you are coming by train then it is a ten-minute walk from Herne Bay Station (on the London Victoria to Ramsgate/Margate line). Turn right out of the station and follow Spenser Road, then after 500yards take a right into Stanley Road for the ground. Train journey time from Lewes is around 2hours 50 minutes via London Victoria and unless there are any specials, will cost around £50 return.
Admission at Winch’s Field
Admission this season is £9 for adults, £5 for concessions (senior citizens, students and Under18s), and accompanied under 12s are £1.
Fancy a beer?
The no.1 nightspot in Herne Bay is the Firkin Frog no less in Station Road which is one of the new breed of pop-up real ale pubs that from the outside look like shops. Well worth a visit especially if you are coming by train. If you fancy a walk along the seafront then head to the very blue (in colour not atmosphere) Divers Arms on Central Parade which is a Shepherds Neame house. Alternatively, The Bouncing Barrel Ale House on Bank Street is well recommended.