I came, to what promised to be a promotion party at Chatham Town, on a cloudy but warm, Bank Holiday Easter Monday, at the Bauvill Stadium. The atmosphere, when I arrived was already celebratory, with a Caribbean style Jerk shack erected pitchside and Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock”, pumping from the sound system.
My most visited stadium this year, the Bauvill Stadium, home of Chatham Town, has enjoyed a great season in 2021-22. While the slip up against Punjab United looks, with just two games left to play, to have handed the title to Chatham’s fierce rivals, Sheppey United, the achievements of this season cannot be underestimated.
Chatham came into the season having just lost their manager, and Chairman, Kevin Hake and Coach, Carl Laraman, took the helm, deciding that a new person may affect the positive style of football that had been implemented under previous manager Scott Lindsey. They have won 29 of 35 matches scoring 113 goals with two games left and could well get to 100 points from 38 games and still finish 2nd in the league. Attendances have rocketed with regular crowds of 600 plus including the record 1876, who attended the January match against Sheppey United. The Isthmian League South East will certainly benefit from the arrival of the two promoted teams this season from the SCEFL. 732 people came to see today’s fixture.
There has been speculation with Carl Laraman announcing his departure from the club, that a new manager has already been lined up, to lead the Isthmian League challenge next season, but no news has come from the Chairman/ Manager to date and it could be that Hake will continue in the role. Jack Evans, with 26 goals and Dan Bradshaw with 45 goals, have top scored coming into this match.
Deal Town themselves have had a great season and have set themselves securely in 4th place. This will give them hope of success in gaining promotion themselves, next season. Billy Munday with 16 goals and Connor Coyne with 11 goals are their top scorers, to date, this season. Their own following has been impressive throughout the season and I was present at their home game against Erith & Belvedere FC, earlier this season, when they showed their credentials, with a late winner against a team who at the time were riding high in the form table.
The game started well with Chatham Town having much of the possession and looking the most likely to score first. Deal Town tackled hard and had early chances themselves, when they managed to break away.
The deadlock was broken by a Ryan Hayes penalty for Chatham, after a foul in the box on Jack Evans by Max Noblett, which Deal Town disputed heavily, in the 17th minute.
In the 22nd minute, Dan Bradshaw made it 2-0 with a bullet header, to register his 46th goal of the season.
In the 36th minute, a neat back-heeled finish, by Andy Pugh, made it 3-0 to Chatham Town.
On the stroke of half time, Jack Evans finished with aplomb to make it 4-0 and effectively end the match as a contest.
The second half started in the same vein. On 55 minutes, Ike Orji squeezed the ball into the net, from what looked an impossible angle.
Troy Howard worked hard down the right to create chances for Deal, but with no success.
The score was 6-0, when in the 73rd minute, substitute Matt Bodkin, headed home.
The seventh followed in the 80th minute, when Matt Bodkin stabbed the ball home for his brace.
At the final whistle, the crowd loudly applauded the home side, as they took a lap of honour. The news from Sheppey United’s fixture at K Sports, confirmed a 5-1 victory for Chatham’s title rivals, leaving them one game from the title, however even that couldn’t dampen the party atmosphere, at the Bauvill, today.