After a false start the season before, Hythe finally moved up from the Kent Amateur League to the Kent League for season 1977-78. The club had moved from South Road to Reachfields, although it was a very modest ground in those days, just a pitch with dressing rooms and a small clubroom behind the goal. The official ground opening was a game with Southern League neighbours Folkestone and Shepway, as they were then called, on Saturday 30 July 1977. Folkestone went two goals up before a Les Hall own goal and a John Champion effort saw honours even at 2-2.
The league season began with a home game with Tunbridge Wells and a 2-1 defeat, Paul Prior scoring Hythe’s first-ever Kent League goal. There were problems reported with the pitch, with shingle coming through to the surface, but remedial work allowed the next home game to go ahead as planned. A draw followed at Herne Bay and defeat at Crockenhill, in a ‘monsoon’, before Hythe’s first victory, in that next home game. It was impressive as well, a 5-3 win against last season’s Kent League champions, Medway (a renamed Chatham).
That game started an unbeaten run of seven games, five of them victories, which left Hythe in fourth place. After a couple of defeats another good run through November and December was ended by the worst result of the season, a 7-0 defeat at Whitstable on New Year’s Day. A strong finish to the season, only two defeats in the last ten games saw Hythe climb the table and finish in a respectable fourth place. This was despite the loss of leading scorer Prior, who joined Folkestone for the last month of the season.
Included in the league were three Southern League reserve sides, from Dover, Folkestone and Maidstone and Hythe won all six of those games. The following season saw the reserve sides removed from the top division.
Cup runs were fairly brief: Hythe’s debut in the FA Vase saw a victory over Deal before home defeat by Merstham; in the Kent League Cup a win at Crockenhill was followed by defeat at Sheppey United; and a first round loss in the Kent Senior Trophy at Deal that saw keeper Ken Boorman and Deal’s Barry Brown both sent off. This defeat was all the more disappointing as Hythe had reached the semi-finals in each of the previous three seasons – the first three of this ‘new’ competition.
The newspapers of the day (The Folkestone Herald) usually had a match report but rarely gave the full team line-up so the club appearance records are barely more than half-complete. Goalkeeping duties were shared between Ken Boorman and Stan Purcell, defenders were Paul Roberts, Norman Long, Ian Daffin, Terry Dowding, Dave Williams and Glenn Dempsey, who also played in midfield with John Champion, John Leslie and Doug Parker and the forwards were Paul Prior and Tony Hunter. On the goalscoring front, which is also incomplete by seven goals, Paul Prior led the way with 23, Doug Parker got 16, Tony Hunter 12 and John Leslie 10. Hythe played a total of 39 games, with 21 wins, 6 draws and 12 defeats, scoring 81 goals. It was their first season for seven years without any silverware, perhaps not surprising after the step up, under the continued leadership of Bob Davis.
|Maidstone United Reserves||34||18||6||10||58||39||19||42|
|Folkestone Town Reserves||34||6||7||21||37||61||-24||19|
|30/07/1977||Folkestone & Shepway||F||Home||2-2||OG, John Champion|
|06/08/1977||Alma Swanley||F||Home||1-1||Tony Hunter|
|13/08/1977||Sevenoaks Town||F||Home||1-0||Paul Prior|
|03/09/1977||Medway||KL||Home||5-3||Prior, Doug Parker 2, 1 pen, John Leslie 2|
|10/09/1977||Snowdown CW||KL||Away||2-1||Hunter, Paul Butler|
|17/09/1977||Folkestone & Shepway Reserves||KL||Home||3-0||Butler, Glenn Dempsey, Leslie|
|24/09/1977||Deal Town||FAVP||Home||2-1||Butler, Parker|
|01/10/1977||Tunbridge Wells||KL||Away||2-2||Hunter 2|
|15/10/1977||Slade Green Athletic||KL||Home||4-1||Leslie, Prior 2, Parker|
|22/10/1977||Whitstable Town||KL||Home||3-2||Champion, Prior 2|
|05/11/1977||Faversham Town||KL||Home||2-1||Leslie, Champion|
|12/11/1977||Deal Town||KST1||Away||2-4||Leslie, Hunter|
|19/11/1977||Kent Police||KL||Away||2-0||Prior 2|
|10/12/1977||Crockenhill||KLC2||Away||2-1||Prior, Bob Paul|
|17/12/1977||Slade Green Athletic||KL||Away||2-1||Parker pen, Prior|
|26/12/1977||Dover Reserves||KL||Home||3-1||Prior, Hunter 2|
|31/12/1977||Maidstone United Reserves||KL||Away||3-1||Prior, Hunter, Peter Worrell|
|21/01/1978||Dartford Glentworth||KL||Home||2-1||Hunter, Leslie|
|11/02/1978||Herne Bay||KL||Home||5-1||Prior 3, Parker, Dave Williams|
|25/02/1978||Sheppey United||KL||Home||3-5||Prior, Parker, Leslie|
|04/03/1978||Sittingbourne||KL||Away||4-3||Parker 2, Prior 2|
|18/03/1978||Maidstone United Reserves||KL||Home||4-2||Parker 2, Prior 2|
|25/03/1978||Kent Police||KL||Home||2-2||Parker 2, 1 pen|
|08/04/1978||Crockenhill||KL||Home||3-1||Hunter 2, Don Hanrahan|
|20/04/1978||Folkestone & Shepway Reserves||KL||Away||2-1||Paul Roberts, Hunter|
Hythe Town’s second season in the Kent League saw the majority of the outfield players remain from the season before. New additions saw Tony Howes as the regular goalkeeper with Paul Fullick as his deputy. Gary Towse joined, as did Alan Hughes from Deal Town but the best news was the return of striker Paul Prior, who had joined Folkestone for the final month of the previous season.
The season got off to a slow start with three away draws and a home defeat to Sheppey United, an important result come the end of the season. The first win was at home to Faversham Town when goals from Prior and John Leslie were enough to beat last season’s champions. This game started an eight-match unbeaten run in the league, seven of them victories, until consecutive defeats to Herne Bay and Ramsgate. Two wins followed just prior to Christmas before snow wiped out three weeks of football, restarting with a win at Tunbridge Wells on a still frozen, snow-covered pitch.
This was followed by Faversham’s revenge for their earlier defeat, Hythe losing 5-2 at Salters Lane for the worst defeat of the season. But it was the prelude to a strong finish to the season, only losing at Medway and Ramsgate in the last 18 league games to finish as runners-up to Sheppey United. Hythe played at Sheppey on Easter Saturday and gained a creditable 1-1 draw against the Islanders who remained unbeaten at that point, Glenn Dempsey scoring the Hythe goal.
The cups saw limited success for Hythe, the best performance was reaching the semi-final of the League Cup. Home wins over Ramsgate and Crockenhill were followed by a draw at Darenth Heathside in the quarter-final, winning the home replay 3-1. The semi-final saw a 3-1 defeat at Herne Bay, Hythe had led for much of the match but a ‘controversial’ penalty after 75 minutes turned the game in Bay’s favour. Hythe managed a lone draw in four matches against Bay that season. They had knocked Hythe out of the Vase in September. The Kent Senior Trophy was the surprise failure; having made the semi-finals in three of the previous four seasons Hythe managed to lose their first round tie, after a replay, to bottom of the table Snowdown Colliery Welfare.
Again, the team appearances are incomplete from the local paper. Tony Howes was the regular goalkeeper, full-backs were Ian Daffin and Paul Roberts, defenders Dave Williams, Terry Dowding and Adrian Bray, who had joined from Margate in October but suffered a broken leg against Kent Police in April. Midfielders were Doug Parker, John Champion, Gary Towse, Glenn Dempsey and John Leslie with Paul Prior and Tony Hunter as the forwards. The Herald’s summary of the season heaped praise upon keeper Howes for his consistency and Prior for his 37 goals, him being the league’s leading scorer. Only Tony Hunter, with 12, also managed double figures. Hythe played a total of 42 games with 24 wins, 9 draws and 9 defeats, scoring 83 goals in Bob Davis’ eighth season in charge.
|Erith & Belvedere||34||8||9||17||49||48||25|
|05/08/1978||Merstham||F||Home||3-1||Tony Hunter, John Leslie, Doug Parker|
|19/08/1978||Erith & Belvedere||KL||Away||1-1||Paul Prior pen|
|02/09/1978||Deal Town||KL||Away||1-1||Gary Towse|
|09/09/1978||Faversham Town||KL||Home||2-0||Prior pen, Leslie|
|16/09/1978||Kent Police||KL||Away||2-0||Prior 2|
|30/09/1978||Ramsgate||KLC1||Home||3-1||Prior, Ian Daffin, Leslie|
|21/10/1978||Cray Wanderers||KL||Home||2-0||Prior, Towse|
|28/10/1978||Darenth Heathside||KL||Away||3-1||Glenn Dempsey, Prior, John Champion|
|25/11/1978||Crockenhill||KL||Away||5-2||Champion 2, Prior 3|
|16/12/1978||Crockenhill||KLC2||Home||2-1||Prior, Adrian Bray|
|23/12/1978||Slade Green Athletic||KL||Away||2-0||Peter Worrell, Prior|
|13/01/1979||Tunbridge Wells||KL||Away||2-1||Prior, Bray|
|20/01/1979||Faversham Town||KL||Away||2-5||Prior 2|
|27/01/1979||Slade Green Athletic||KL||Home||2-1||Prior 2, 1 pen|
|10/02/1979||Dartford Glentworth||KLC3R||Home||3-1||Prior 2, Parker|
|24/02/1979||Erith & Belvedere||KL||Home||1-1||Parker|
|03/03/1979||Tunbridge Wells||KL||Home||3-1||Prior, Hunter 2|
|17/03/1979||Sittingbourne||KL||Home||4-0||Hunter 2, Prior 2|
|31/03/1979||Whitstable Town||KL||Home||2-0||Prior, Towse|
|16/04/1979||Deal Town||KL||Home||5-0||150||Hunter 2, OG, Prior, Bob Paul|
|21/04/1979||Darenth Heathside||KL||Home||2-1||Prior, Hunter|
|24/04/1979||Snowdown CW||KL||Home||5-0||Hunter 2, Prior, Champion, OG|
|28/04/1979||Dartford Glentworth||KL||Home||3-0||Towse, Prior 2|
|19/05/1979||Dartford Glentworth||KL||Away||3-2||Dave Williams, Dempsey, Daffin|
The first news of the new season saw a presentation of a flintlock musket to mark the opening of the bar extension in the old clubhouse (behind the goal). This was a gift from the Small Arms Corps who used the Reachfields site before a move to Wiltshire in 1969. Team news saw just one name added to the squad that had finished as runners-up, the well-known Graham Best joined from Chatham Town.
Best made an immediate impact in Hythe’s first game, scoring the only goal from 25 yards at Reachfields to defeat the previous season’s champions Sheppey United. The crowd was given as 250. Hythe got off to a decent start and after a Gary Towse goal was enough to defeat Dartford Glentworth in September, Hythe moved top of the table. A heavy defeat at Chatham still saw them lead the table but a run of only one win in six games dropped them down to seventh. Changes were made but even they made little difference until the new year. Dick Maxted had signed as a utility player, previously with Hounslow and Margate and Hythe needed a 16-year-old goalkeeper, David Andrews, when regular Tony Howes was unavailable.
Once again, Hythe went on a good run after Christmas after a narrow 3-2 defeat at home to eventual champions Chatham. Local player Jim McMorran was promoted to the first team and Gary Towse went in goal, at first as a stand-in but he kept the role for the rest of the season. A run of away games saw nearly all wins, including a 1-0 win at Erith & Belvedere in atrocious conditions at Park View over a side who were currently second. Hythe climbed the table into second spot but they were ten points behind the strong Chatham side and the title race was all but over. Easter saw a 5-2 defeat by an unbeaten Cray Wanderers side at Oxford Road, despite Hythe being 2-0 up. Revenge was gained in the last home game of the season by inflicting Cray’s first defeat of the season in a 3-1 win. Paul Prior scored Hythe’s second goal as he reached 30 goals for the season. This meant a third place finish, with Cray ending in the runners-up position.
Cup runs were brief, there was a win over Bexhill Town in the Vase, before defeat to Whyteleafe, both games at home. The Kent Senior Trophy saw a victory against Midland Bank, after a replay, before losing at Canterbury City, who played in the Southern League at the time. The Kent League Cup saw defeat at Whitstable in a replay by the only goal, where home keeper Brian Gambrill excelled and a strong penalty claim was denied by referee Bradshaw.
Bob Davis continued to be the manager and regular players were Tony Howes in goal, until replaced by Gary Towse, Ian Daffin and Paul Roberts as full-backs, Glenn Dempsey, Adrian Bray and Dave Williams also in defence, midfielders John Champion, Towse for the first half of the season and Graham Best, with Paul Prior and Tony Hunter the forwards. Prior was leading scorer by some distance, with Hunter and McMorran scoring 8 and 7 respectively. In total Hythe played 39 games, winning 21, drawing six, with twelve losses, scoring 69 goals.
|Erith & Belvedere||32||11||12||9||34||29||5||34|
|04/08/1979||Merstham||F||Home||3-1||Tony Hunter 2, Gary Towse|
|11/08/1979||Swanley Town||F||Home||1-2||Dave Williams|
|18/08/1979||Sheppey United||KL||Home||1-0||250||Graham Best|
|21/08/1979||Herne Bay||KL||Home||4-2||150||Hunter 2, Gary Towse, Paul Prior|
|25/08/1979||Tunbridge Wells||KL||Away||2-3||Terry Byrne, Micky Heynes|
|01/09/1979||Darenth Heathside||KL||Away||2-0||Hunter, Glenn Dempsey|
|05/09/1979||Faversham Town||KL||Away||2-1||Prior, Hunter|
|29/09/1979||Bexhill Town||FAVP||Home||2-1||120||Hunter, Towse|
|06/10/1979||Whitstable Town||KL||Home||2-2||Prior, Williams|
|20/10/1979||Slade Green Athletic||KL||Away||1-2||Best|
|03/11/1979||Midland Bank||KST1||Away||2-2||Hunter 2|
|10/11/1979||Midland Bank||KST1R||Home||3-0||Prior, Williams, Dick Maxted|
|13/11/1979||Sheppey United||KL||Away||2-4||Prior 2|
|17/11/1979||Slade Green Athletic||KL||Home||0-3||150|
|24/11/1979||Herne Bay||KL||Away||2-1||Prior 2|
|08/12/1979||Whitstable Town||KLC1||Home||2-2||Towse, Prior|
|22/11/1979||Faversham Town||KL||Home||3-2||Prior 2, 1 pen, John Champion|
|29/12/1979||Chatham Town||KL||Home||2-3||Prior 2, 1 pen|
|05/01/1980||Darenth Heathside||KL||Home||2-1||Prior 2|
|08/01/1980||Canterbury City||KST2||Away||2-4||Prior, Heynes|
|19/01/1980||Ramsgate||KL||Away||2-1||Jimmy McMorran, Prior|
|26/01/1980||Kent Police||KL||Away||4-2||Prior 2, Doug Parker, McMorran|
|02/02/1980||Erith & Belvedere||KL||Away||1-0||Prior|
|09/02/1980||Ramsgate||KL||Home||2-1||McMorran, Adrian Bray|
|16/02/1980||Crockenhill||KL||Away||3-0||Champion, McMorran, OG|
|29/03/1980||Kent Police||KL||Home||2-0||Parker, Paul Roberts|
|05/04/1980||Cray Wanderers||KL||Away||2-5||Best, Prior|
|07/04/1980||Erith & Belvedere||KL||Home||3-2||Prior 2, 1 pen, Williams|
|19/04/1980||Cray Wanderers||KL||Home||3-1||250||McMorran, Prior, OG|
|26/04/1980||Whitstable Town||KL||Away||2-2||Bray, Hunter|