Margate Football Club was founded in 1896/7 as an amateur club, playing friendly matches on school grounds, with the club colours being black & white.
The Club moved around the Margate area and played at various grounds but in 1924/5 was reformed and moved to the Lower Pitch at Dreamland in Margate and competed in the Kent League Division One.
In 1929 the Club once again reformed and moved to its present home at Hartsdown Park, Margate, and its playing colours changed to amber & black.
1934 saw the club become the nursery side to Arsenal Football Club, with the Hartsdown Park pitch being reduced in size to match Highbury. The Club started its impressive FA Cup pedigree by reaching the 3rd round proper of the FA Cup, losing 3-1 to Blackpool, having defeated Q.P.R. and Crystal Palace in the earlier rounds.
In 1949/50 the Club changed its playing colours to the present blue & white. On 23 September 1959 floodlights were used for the first time at Hartsdown Park. The Club reached the 1st round of the FA Cup before losing a replay at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace in front of a current record crowd to watch Margate of 29,300. The Club officially opened the Floodlights with a game against West Ham United in front of 4,216 spectators.
1961/62 saw the players tunnel constructed at Hartsdown Park. The Club also purchased their own coach in September 1961 with the aim of being able to save money on travel expenses. In the FA Cup Margate defeated Third Division leaders Bournemouth away 3-0.
1964/65 season saw the Club go full time professional with the team finishing 6th in the Premier Division. In the following season the team failed to win a single away game, and finished bottom of the Premier Division being relegated to Division One. The full time policy was scrapped and the team returned to a semi professional status.
1966/67 saw the Club as runners up in Division One, securing promotion back to the Premier Division. In the early part of the season the Clubhouse on the Hartsdown Road terrace was opened.
1972/3 saw the mighty Tottenham Hotspur visit Hartsdown Park for a 3rd round FA Cup game, which Margate lost 6-0 in front of allegedly over 14,000 spectators being a home ground record.
1981/2 saw the Club become a Limited Company and changed names to Thanet United, but this was reversed back to Margate Football Club in 1989/90 when the Club was taken over by Keith Piper & Gordon Wallis.
In 1996/7 Chris Kinnear was appointed as manager. In November 1997 the Club were beaten 2- 1 in the 1st round of the FA Cup by Mohamed Al Fayed's Fulham, who were managed at that time by Kevin Keegan and Ray Wilkins in front of 'Sky TV' cameras for a live televised game at Hartsdown Park. By 1999 the Club had achieved promotion to The Dr Martens Premier Division.
2000/01 saw the Club win The Dr Martens Premier Division title and promotion to the pinnacle of non-league football into the Nationwide Conference.
The first day of the Nationwide Conference saw Margate Football Club highlighted as relegation candidates, but the players thought otherwise and secured an opening day away win at Boston United 1-0 and eventually finished the season in a highly credible 8th position.
During that first season playing in the Nationwide Conference at our 'home' of Hartsdown Park, Margate, attendances climbed to see an average for the season of 1,700 per game, with the highest single attendance being just under 4,000 for the Boxing Day game against local rivals Dover Athletic.
The Club set out a five-year plan to develop both on and off the field of play and this has led to the football club becoming tied down in negotiations to deliver a new stadium fully compliant to Football League 'Grade A Standard' to enable the Club to maintain its Nationwide Conference status.
The second season of Nationwide Conference football saw the Club groundsharing at Dover Athletic FC, having secured planning permission for the redevelopment of Hartsdown Park. Despite playing all their games 'away from home' the Club finished the league in a respectable 10th position. The season also saw the Club defeat Leyton Orient in the 1st round of the FA Cup, they then went on to draw 2nd Division Cardiff City at 'home' for the 2nd Round, but eventually lost 3-1 after a brave battle. This game was featured on the BBC's Match of The Day.
August 2003 and the commencement of the 2003-2004 season saw the Club once again ground-sharing due to the delays on the redevelopment project, highlighting the fact that whilst the Club has performed 'on the pitch', delays and problems 'off the pitch' have meant that the Club's goals have not as yet been achieved.
In June 2004 the club despite finishing 16th in The Nationwide Conference were demoted one division due to the ongoing delays and problems with the redevelopment plans for the clubâ€™s home at Hartsdown Park, Margate and played the 2004/5 season in the Nationwide South division, ground-sharing at Ashford Town FC. Finishing the season inside the relegation zone, Margate were relegated to the Ryman League Premier Division.
Margate Football Club started the Ryman League Premier Division on 20th August 2005 back at Hartsdown Park with a temporary stadium. Another indifferent season saw Margate, at times, flirting with relegation and with a handful of games remaining Chris Kinnear was relieved of duties after ten years in charge.
Defender Robin Trott was put in temporary charge and with the team remaining unbeaten for the remainder of the campaign he secured the job full-time. An impressive array of signings were brought in but despite some of the most entertaining football played by a Margate side in a long time they fell away at the death and just missed out on the play-offs.
Over the summer a number of players, including some long-standing members of the squad, left the club as Trott started his second full term in charge. But, despite threatening in patches during the season, the club fell short of the play-offs and Trott was released with two games to go.
In summer 2008, in the biggest overhaul the club has seen in years, former Gillingham defender Barry Ashby became Margate's new manager with his former Gills team-mate Paul Smith joining him as player-coach. A comprehensive restructuring plan also saw locally-based ex-Everton and Wales goalkeeper Neville Southall became the club's Football Development Officer whilst former Wales manager Terry Yorath was announced as Margate's Director of Football at the start of June 2008. The emphasis was now to be on development and the club were to field a young side made up of former reserve and youth players for the 2008/09 Ryman League Premier Division campaign.
The campaign started badly and Ashby departed in October; Terry Yorath taking charge temporarily, with Neville Southall assisting. Improved performances looked as though they may pull the side out of the relegation zone but a final day defeat at Staines Town saw Margate finish in the final relegation slot.
Talk of clubs being demoted and resigning from various Leagues led to a nervous summer as Margate waited to see if they would be reprieved thanks to another club's misfortune. The good news came in June as it was announced that Margate would remain in the Ryman League Premier Division for the 2009/10 season and with the best of last season's squad remaining under Yorath's leadership, hopes were higher for the new season.
Early silverware came in the form of the re-launched 'Isle of Thanet Gazette Cup', a two legged battle with rivals Ramsgate. A 1-0 win at Hartsdown and a 1-1 draw at Southwood was enough to win the cup, being contested for the first time since 1992, and move clear of the Rams on outright wins.
An indifferent start to the campaign saw the side once again battling for points at the wrong end of the table and in October Yorath resigned. Southall took over as caretaker but failed to seal the job on a permanent basis.
In the weeks that followed three new board members were appointed; former Chairman Gordon Wallis, former Commercial Manager Cliff Egan and veteran supporter and club helper Richard Piper. Their first task was to appoint former Ashford Town (MX) manager Mark Butler as Manager with Steve Beeks as his assistant.
In February 2010 Mark Butler resigned after only 2 wins in 16 games, although performances on the pitch had vastly improved. John Keister and Wayne Wilson took charge for two games before former Margate legend Iain O'Connell was appointed manager at the end of February.
O'Connell signed former Margate legends Jay Saunders and James Pinnock as well as bringing several other players in and a run of nine games without defeat started giving hope of avoiding relegation but despite beating play-off chasing Hastings United in the last match of the season Margate finished fourth from bottom and another agonising wait until a reprieved was confirmed in May.
In the summer, Oâ€™Connell strengthened his squad further including some experience that had been seriously lacking over recent seasons and after impressive performances in the pre-season friendlies, hopes are again high for the coming season.
Off the pitch, after years of failed attempts, Margate received good news in early August as the planning application to re-build the North Stand was granted full planning consent (approved) subject to an Amended Deed of Variation, which was submitted to Thanet Planners by solicitors acting for London & Margate for approval.
As well as providing a new covered terrace, the full width of the pitch designed to hold 1,500 supporters, the new stand once completed, will allow the 5-a-side centre to be completed, with permanent changing room facilities, together with a new bar and lounge and a 5,000 sq ft building to be used for educational purposes. The new stand will service both the existing 5-a-side pitches and the new full sized all weather 3G pitch which was also approved by Thanet Planners the previous month.
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