Moving on from Kings to clergy, next up for Tonbridge Angels is a day trip to the country, to Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire.
Games between the two teams have been intermittent in recent years because of the football authorities struggles with map reading, and their general indifference to causing travel misery to fans. As a result Bishops Stortford have floated around between the Conference North, the National League South, the Southern League and the Isthmian League over the last 10 years. This means that for some there is the new joy of hearing the cry of “Come on you Bishops”, which brings back memories of Monty Python for those of us of a certain age.
And, speaking of men of a certain age, the trip also offers the happy prospect of seeing one of the elder statesmen of the league still strutting his stuff. Jamie Cureton, aged 86, who played at the highest level alongside the likes of Stanley Matthews and Nat Lofthouse, is still running around and tucking away the goals with the aplomb of a man half his age. The Angels’ central defenders had better not be having one of their “after you Claude” days, or with a glimmer of Jamie’s zimmer it could be a very long afternoon. At the time of writing this season he has bagged 14 goals, and is the League’s top scorer. There’s no substitute for experience, and if the Bishops could secure a sainthood for Jamie, I’m sure they would.
For the Angels the mood will be very different to a couple of weeks ago. A home draw against an in-form Brightlingsea followed by a win against high flying Kingstonian should have restored much needed belief after a mid season slump. Nobody seems to have doubted the quality of Steve McKimm’s squad as much as they did themselves. Confidence is a fickle friend.
The view from the terraces has suggested for some time that Alex Read badly needed support up front, as a plodding 4-5-1 formation had long since been nullified by the opposition. The recent arrival of cheery Chinedu McKenzie seems to be just the tonic Read needed, with experienced loanee Tom Murphy in addition. Fans could speculate why it has taken so long to change, but should just be glad that it has, and hope that it continues.
In most seasons it would be fanciful for a team which has dropped from 1st to 10th to still have promotion ambitions, but this season the prize is wide open, so why not keep the faith? Kingstonian beat Bishops Stortford 3-0 on 5th January and Tonbridge beat Kingstonian 3-2 on 12th January, so it’s obvious what’s going to happen this week, isn’t it?