Down at Lydd Town FC you get the impression they may just be feeling like always being the bridesmaid but never the bride. For the past two seasons their bid to win the Kent Invicta League has been thwarted by Hollands and Blair, a Gillingham based club that have been Champions of the Kent Invicta League for the past two seasons, and are now topping the league above having finally been granted promotion, with their ground now being up to the standard required for promotion.
The 2013/14 season saw Lydd Town go hammer and tongs at the top of the table with Hollands and Blair, but it was the Blair who lifted the title finishing ten points clear of Lydd. Despite taking four points off the league winners over the course of season and suffering just two defeats, the same amount as the Blair, too many draws cost them over the course of the campaign and they eventually finished runners up.
Last season it was a case of Hollands and Blair just being that much better than the rest, winning 27 out of their 30 games and scoring 127 goals on the way to promotion and a second successive title triumph. As for Lydd they again won over twenty of their league games over the course of the season, but so did Bearsted who took up the runners up spot this time with one more point than Lydd who finished third.
Whilst this may all sound depressing reading for those involved in Lydd Town, as a club it is worth noting that they have been making steady progress since the 2011/12 season when they finished 12th in a division of just sixteen clubs that year. The following season progression again came in the shape of a top six finish before the 2013/14 season saw them finish 2nd (see above).
The Kent Invicta League, step six of the non-league pyramid, is very much in its infancy as a league being only five years old, but with twenty clubs taking for part during the 2015/16 season, it’s credit to the Kent FA and the clubs involved for helping it develop and grow since it inaugural campaign during the 2011/12 season.
The start of 2015/16 season has again seen one club emerge as front runners, Chislehurst based Glebe FC, and they’re currently setting the early pace in the league having won twelve of their fifteen games to date, which included a run of nine straight wins. The winning run finally came to end when Phoenix Sports reserves beat them 2-1 in early November. However, the nine straight wins have seen Glebe pull nine points clear at the top with Lydd themselves down in fifth place having picked up 24 points from their eleven games. They do however currently have four games in hand over Glebe.
On the last Saturday in October Lydd travelled to Lewisham, or Catford to be more precise, to do battle with strugglers Lewisham Borough.
Saturday 31st October 2015 – Kent Invicta League – Lewisham Borough 0 v 5 Lydd Town – Attendance – Approx. 30
At this level of non-league football grounds are generally very basic but still have to meet set guidelines set by the Football Association especially if they want to progress up the non-leagues. Lewisham Borough currently play their home games at the Ladywell arena. However, this is very much an athletics ground with a football pitch in the middle and doesn’t have any stands so to speak. There are viewing areas but they are quite some way from the pitch with the facility being designed to host athletics not football.
In no way is this a critsium of Lewisham Borough as a club, as the welcome you get from the club is a friendly one with the Chairman and secertary Ray Graham going out of his way to assist spectators and players visiting the Ladywell Arena. Football pitches complete with running tracks just generally don’t work from a spectator point of view though.
On the day of Lydd’s visit the home club were just getting over the departure of their management team and probably could have done without the visit of one of the strongest clubs in the league. On the pitch Lydd were ruthless in their destruction of the home side who found themselves on the wrong end of a five-nil defeat, their twelfth defeat of the season, having played just thirteen games so far. Lydd opened the scoring early in the match with a goal from Gary Mickleborough, and added to that lead on twenty minutes with a goal from Charlie Sharman. The Borough were more than making a game of it but Lydd were able to contain them with a tight marshalled defence. James Simmons poked home the third goal when he got clear of the Lewisham defence and burst into the box to poke the ball under the goalkeeper and it was 0-3 at half-time.
The third goal killed the game as a contest in all honesty, and Lydd went on to comfortably achieve their biggest win of the season to date adding two more goals to their tally in the second half thanks to strikes from Matt Hadlam and Carlum Macleod.
The 5-0 scoreline might have reflected Lydd’s dominance overall, but the Lewisham players never threw in the towel and in the hands of Ray Graham the club will eventually get it right if all those involved in the club match his passion and dedication to helping Lewisham Borough progress and go forward. The non-league is full of people like Ray Graham and you can’t help but admire them and their work.
As for Lydd Town, it may feel like a case of déjà vu with another club threatening to run away with the Kent Invicta League, but there is a long way to go yet with plenty of points up for grabs between now and April. Themselves, Bearsted and Sutton Athletic are all hot on the heels of Glebe and are waiting to pounce should they slip up or hit a bad patch, and with a bit of luck Lydd might just lose the tag of ‘nearly men’ come the end of season.