Are Ebbsfleet on the ropes?

On Saturday Ebbsfleet United managed a 0-0 draw against a very poor Bishop Stortford FC in a match that seemed to typify the current state of this established non-league outfit.

But for me as a life long supporter of this small Kentish football club, having watched them since I was a small child, the score, and indeed the match seemed to pale into insignificance within 5 minutes of entering the ground.

As I walked through the turnstile I was met by a man handing out leaflets, one of which I took.

As I read it my thoughts drifted to that fantastic day in May 2008 when they took 25,000 fans to Wembley and beat Torquay United in the FA Trophy final, the day they went up the M1 to take on the might of Aston Villa in the 3rd round of the FA Cup and the day they entertained European Champions Nottingham Forest at their humble Stonebridge Road ground.

Now the club seems to be in total disarray financially and the leaflet that I was holding confirmed to me that if something drastic isn’t done very soon then this fantastic old club will disappear into the abyss and with it. the hearts and souls of many, many local people.

The leaflet was in fact a questionnaire that all home supporters were being asked to complete, the basis of which was asking fans if they would be willing to accept a rise in ticket prices next season and also if they would be prepared to commit to donating £1 per week which would go directly to the Manager’s fund for buying new players.

For most of this season their has been evidence of the lack of cash flow at The Fleet and with dwindling gate receipts this situation will only get worse unless they receive a cash injection from somewhere.

I noticed that around the ground there are many empty spaces where local businesses could have their advertising boards or sponsor the club in some way but it feels that apart from the die hard supporters, the rest of the local community seem to have given up or forgotten about them.

This is a club that has been around in one form or another since the 1890’s, and once being the nursery club for Tottenham Hotspur.

This is the club that reached round 4 of the FA Cup in the 1962/63 season and managed a 1-1 draw at home against Sunderland, eventually losing 5-2 in the replay, my father was at that game and swears their were 12,000 in the ground!

This is also the club that has battled for financial stability for almost it’s entire existence yet has always managed to stay on it’s feet, even when the entire board resigned in 1967 leaving just the players,the ground and its debts.

But now, like a tired old boxer who has sustained 12 rounds of punishment, they have no more reserves of strength to call upon and sadly, I fear the worse.

Unless somebody, somewhere comes out of the woodwork and puts in a healthy sum of money this club is heading for liquidation.

This would actually represent a fantastic opportunity for some wealthy businessman with a love of football, there is only one football league team in Kent, Gillingham FC.

Wouldn’t it be great to have another? One that has risen from the lower leagues, struggled to survive and then risen from the ashes?

I have always said that if I ever win the lottery then one of the first things I would do would be to give a major donation to the club that has brought me so many memories over the past 40+ years.

Maybe a saviour will emerge or maybe things will jus go on as they are until this tired, battered fighter of a club finally collapses in a heap on the canvas and is counted out.

By Ray Peck

Follow me on    http://twitter.com/RayPeck1

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