Sunday, October 24, 2010

Who are Hythe Town?

This short history of Hythe Town, which is situated on the coast about 12 miles west of Dover, comes from their website.

Hythe Town Football Club were formed in 1910 and played at South Road recreation ground in the Kent Amateur League until the mid-1970’s. In 1975 they won the Kent Junior Cup and were granted senior status, entering the Kent League and playing at the newly acquired Reachfields, an old army training ground. Town were runners-up in the Kent League in 1979, 1983 and 1986 but it was not until property developer Tony Walton took over, forming Hythe Town 1988 Limited, that things really started to happen.

In 4 ½ seasons Town won the Championship in both divisions of the Kent League and promotion to the Southern League. The ground had been developed to Southern Premier standard but further promotion was not achieved although attendances rose to an average of 430 (season 1989-90). The new Chairman was a high profile character who attracted much media attention with his big spending. The F.A.Vase was Hythe’s main aim (one year they were made national favourites by the bookies) and they just missed out on the Wembley Finals of 1990 and 1991, going out in the Semi and Quarter Finals respectively.

Locally they regularly turned over major non league sides such as Hastings, Folkestone, Margate and Dover. Cup success came in the Kent Senior Trophy, and Town won the Eastern Professional Cup twice defeating Harlow and Collier Row in consecutive finals going unbeaten from 1989 until mid season 1991-2. They were also the losing finalists in the Southern League Cup (v Chelmsford City) and in the 1992 Kent Senior Cup (v Bromley). However that match, played at Priestfield Stadium, became Walton’s last game in charge, and he put the Club into liquidation soon after.

Supporters entered a scratch side, Hythe United into the following season’s Kent County League and negotiated continued use of Reachfields Stadium, regaining senior status and rejoining the Kent League in 1995. In 2001 Hythe dropped the “United” tag and went back to “Town” and in November 2002 appointed Paul Fisk as Manager and apart from the season 2005/6 have become a regular top six Club. Even in 2005/6 however, Town struck form in the F.A.Vase only going out to Winchester City in the 4th round proper, before a crowd of 441 at Reachfields.

In season 2007/08 Hythe forced themselves to the top of the table and in Spring were considered to be favourites for the title. Disappointment was acute therefore when form was lost in the final weeks and the side not only slipped to 4th place, but also lost in the League Cup Final 1-0 to Erith Town. Despite this it had been a fine season, with a good F.A.Cup run including a fantastic win over Dover before 1,109 at Reachfields, and a Ryman League ground grading achieved. There was also the Golden Boot award to striker Mike Smissen who scored 48 goals during the season despite missing 7 games through injury.

In season 2008/9 Town made their strongest bid yet for the title, but finished as runners-up after leading for much of the season. On the Management side, Paul Fisk stepped down at the end of the season due to the illness of his wife Pam (who sadly passed away in May 2010), and Scott Porter took over with the help of Clive Cook and Martin Chandler, the club ending the next season in third place. The 2009/10 season also saw Town progress through three rounds of the F.A. Cup to be drawn against the full-time professionals of Woking who were very relieved to escape with a replay after an exciting 2-2 draw at Reachfields. The replay was another tight match until the last few minutes when Woking scored three times to go through 5-1.

This season Hythe have made a number of key signings and have appointed local footballing legend Nick Dent as Coach in another attempt to gain promotion to the Ryman league.

Ground details: Capacity 3,000 (2,400 under cover) - Record gate: 2,147 (versus Yeading 1990 F.A. Vase)