Whitstable Town v Whitstable Town

A Whitstable Town intersquad game to replace covid struck Kennington FC.

At least we were guaranteed a win, my wife said.

I got to the ground early to beat the crowd of about 12. Again, my own enthusiasm not matched by the townsfolk.

At least a couple of others felt the same, including the elderly man three rows down who was wearing socks that had “Thursday” down the side, when this was obviously Tuesday. I liked him immediately.

His socks said Thursday. But this was very obviously a Tuesday.

Bit of an awkward game though, mainly because of what happened to our brilliant full back Simon Kabamba.

You don’t normally hear injuries at such close range. Had there been a bigger crowd the general hubbub might have covered the noise. But an awkward challenge sent Simon Kabamba screaming across the turf, his agony very real a few feet from the seats.  

It was so loud it felt like we should all get up and leave. But the three of us in the seats toughed it out, and looked at our phones while Kabamba gripped his knee until the physio arrived. He didn’t really let go of it until the stretcher was brought on.

It was an awful sight, not just because of his obvious pain but because it looked like our brilliant full back (it’s not bias… watch him when he comes back) would be out for a while.

He was carried off. I started the round of applause.

On the pitch it meant Liam Gillies, our swashbuckling midfielder, swapped sides. This was the first substitution I’d seen that involved teams on the same pitch swapping players and said so to a nearby teenager, who ignored me. Gillies changed his shirt but was spared having to swap shorts. At least he was easy to spot.

To be honest I didn’t really pay much attention to the detail of the game. This was the first time I’d seen the Whitstable team play in over a year and I was suddenly overwhelmed by gratitude that they were all back playing. At that moment they were all the best players in the world, to me anyway, and my favourite ones too. I loved them all.

Plus they were playing for places, so there was enough of an edge to keep things lively.

“No way was that a corner!” screamed one voice, as if it mattered in a pre-season inter-squad friendly.

The crowd seemed happy to be back too, including the man three rows in front who for that moment didn’t care about the nightmare waiting for him in his sock draw two days from now.

Someone asked me if it was 2-1 on the way out.

“I think so”.

Best player: All of them.

Whitstable Town v Whitstable Town
Tuesday 20 July 2021
Score: 2-1