Herne Bay make their first road trip since the final game of last season and for many it will be a new ground to visit.
Until they gained promotion to the Southern Counties East Football League Snodland Football Club enjoyed life in the topflight of the Kent County League from 1992 until 2016. But it all started back in the early 1900s when Snodland’s first recorded match was against West Malling. In the early years, right up to 1992, the club played its football in the Maidstone League where they were winners of the Premier Division on many occasions along with the coveted Kent Junior Cup.
Their journey through the Kent County League started in season 1992/93 when the club joined Western Division Three and promotion to the Premier Division was achieved in 1997/98. The club continued to play in the Premier Division of the Kent County League and in 2012 the main adult and youth teams of Snodland amalgamated under one club name, Snodland Town Football Club.
The club now has its own ground, leased from the council, and has added perimeter fencing, spectator rails, hard standings, floodlights and a grandstand. These ground improvements allowed promotion to the Southern Counties East Football League First Division for season 2016/17, when they ended in a very creditable 8th position, and 6th and 15th place finishes have followed. After many years of designing and planning, work started on Friday 31st May 2019 for the club’s new Changing Rooms and Hospitality facilities.
On the eve of this pre-season joint managers Kane Rice and Simon Austin resigned their positions. Austin had two starts and one substitute appearance for Herne Bay in the Kent League Championship season of 2011/12 and scored one goal. Rice and Austin were later appointed as the management team for Maidstone United’s new development squad.
Snodland Town then appointed Simon Copley as their new manager. Copley is head coach of the under 14s at Arsenal and he teamed up with his assistant manager Ian Varley. Copley and Varley were in charge of Glebe but were axed by the Chislehurst based club in April 2016 after finishing in third place in the Kent Invicta League but celebrated winning the London Senior Trophy and Kent Invicta League Challenge Trophy at the end of that season. Varley, Kent FA u18’s manager, took charge of Holmesdale but after guiding the club to a top-six finish during his first full season in charge, he lasted only 10 games into the following season before leaving the club in September 2017. Steve Northwood, who played 11 times for Herne Bay in 2010/11, has been appointed as goalkeeping coach.
Their first two planned pre-season games, against Folkestone Invicta on Thursday 4th July and Hythe Town on Tuesday 9th July were both cancelled, whilst Herne Bay played out a fine 1-1 draw with Maidstone United last Saturday.
A quick look at the Snodland Town website and their playing squad (I don’t know if it is up to date) and there are three names there with links to Herne Bay. Rhys Lawson made 254 appearances and scored 28 goals for Bay between 2005 and 2013. During that time he would have played alongside several of our current squad. Ex-Crystal Palace Under 18s goalkeeper Brad Comins was signed by Sam Denly in the summer of 2015 as understudy to Jack Delo. After a couple of pre-season appearances when Delo was on holiday he didn’t get another opportunity as Delo went on to be ever-present during the campaign. Steve Haffner was one of three Whitstable Town players sent off in the final five minutes of the Kent Senior Cup tie in October 2013, for a headbutt on Dean Grant.
Snodland Town play at: Potyns Sportsground, Paddlesworth Road, Snodland. ME6 5DP. 39.6 miles from Winch’s Field, journey time 46 minutes.