Summer changes saw Newport Isle of Wight and Sudbury join the league and Sheppey United drop down to the Kent league. Neil Cugley, who had finished last season as manager of Folkestone, had moved to Premier Division Ashford. Folkestone themselves went into liquidation, reforming as Folkestone 1990 Ltd, but with a long running dispute with the receiver over the use of their assets, the social club and even the dressing rooms. One of Tony Walton’s companies, Larchimage Windows, agreed a three-year deal to sponsor the Southern League Cup, taking over from Westgate Insurance services.
At Hythe both Kevin Smart and Dave Carr left the club in the summer. Dave Myers was signed from Dartford and could play at right back or right midfield. Hythe attempted to rejoin the Kent League Division Two for the reserve side but relations between the two had not healed and Hythe only received two votes. The reserves remained in the Kent County League but Hythe entered the newly formed Kent Midweek League for extra games instead of some training sessions.
With Dave Carr’s departure, Walton named himself as manager, Lee Smelt being the assistant. Ex Harvey Grammar schoolboy Jamie Carney did well in the few pre-season friendlies and made the first team squad, but Mark Hyham was expected to miss a large part of the season with a knee injury.
Despite starting the season with a disappointing home 0-0 draw, results went well and by the end of the September Hythe were top of the table and had won the September Manager of the Month award – which in the official records went to Lee Smelt. Walton signed Tim Hulme back to Hythe, from Neil Cugley’s Ashford and it would not be the last signing from just up the road. It was a swap deal with Mark Stanton and Simon Bryant moving in the opposite direction.
A couple of weeks later Hythe signed Alan Lester from Crawley for a fee and he was installed as club captain. The cup games had begun in earnest, although there was an early FA Cup exit at Kent League Tonbridge. Gravesend were overcome in the Southern League Cup (all ties were two legs) and Chatham conceded eight in the Kent Senior Trophy. The first Vase tie saw a trip to Pagham and Hythe found themselves 3-1 down after an hour but three quick goals rescued a narrow victory. Local rivals Ashford were beaten in the next round of the League Cup, despite Hythe losing the home leg, after a resounding 4-0 win at Homelands.
Just before Christmas Haverhill Rovers were beaten easily in the Vase, and Hythe signed Dave Arter and Jeff Ross from Ashford, a Silver Spring sponsorship of £25,000 exactly matching the rumoured transfer fees. Jed Nohilly moved to Ashford at the same time. The week before Christmas came the news that Folkestone had been expelled from the Southern League after failing to regain full use of Cheriton Road, which meant Hythe had no game on Boxing Day.
There was a holiday defeat at Margate before an easy 4-0 home win over bottom side Corinthian. But the new year started poorly with defeats to Salisbury and Newport that saw Hythe slip down the table. The cups, again, saw a different outcome with an easy Vase win at Harefield United that included a Dave Arter hat-trick, and a two-leg win over Premier Division Dover in the League Cup. A home league win over Sudbury saw a controversial sending-off for Tom Warrilow which would see him miss the important Vase tie at Hastings. Despite his absence Hythe drew 0-0 at The Pilot Field in front of a crowd of 1189 with the game refereed by David Elleray. Another Football League referee, David Axcell, took charge of the replay where Hythe won 3-1 to go through to a quarter-final tie with Trowbridge Town.
Once again, when Hythe returned to league action there was disappointment. A late equaliser saw lowly Dunstable draw 2-2 and then came a 1-0 home defeat to Baldock, the league leaders, which drew comments that the ‘title race was over’ in the local paper. But next up was that Vase tie at Reachfields where a crowd of 800 watched a tense goalless draw, after extra time. Three days later came the replay in Wiltshire and again the sides could not be separated over two hours, Arter scoring in a 1-1 draw in front of over 1600. Again the next league game, at home to Andover, was lost before the second replay, again in Wiltshire. Despite an Arter goal giving Hythe a first-half lead, three goals in eleven minutes in the second half saw Trowbridge through to the semi-final. The attendance, 2,468, remains the biggest crowd that have ever watched a Hythe Town game. In the aftermath, both Frank Ovard and Mark Weatherly left the club.
The Vase defeat was not even a chance to concentrate on the league, as Hythe remained in three other cups. A narrow victory over Waterlooville saw Hythe through to the semi-final of the League Cup, where they would meet Trowbridge again. An easy win at Corinthian saw Hythe reach the final of the Kent Senior Trophy, and a win and a draw over Dover saw them top their group again in the Knight Floodlight Cup. League games saw mixed results, a win, a draw and a defeat, then two wins, then two defeats saw Hythe in eighth place and out of any chance of promotion.
There was revenge over Trowbridge in the League Cup, a 2-1 away win was followed by a goalless draw at Reachfields to reach the final, against Premier Division Chelmsford City. Hythe lost the away leg 2-1, and two weeks later put up a good fight but also lost at home, 3-2. In between those games was the Kent Senior Trophy final, against Deal Town at Ashford, not a classic by any means but a lone Jeff Ross goal saw the silverware taken home to Reachfields.
There was a real fixture backlog, with eleven games played in March and thirteen in April and three occasions where games were played on Saturday and Sunday. Wins over Ashford and Sudbury saw Hythe finish in eighth place in the league, some distance behind champions Buckingham Town. But there was to be another cup won, this time on home turf. In the Knight Floodlight Cup two Dave Arter goals won the quarter-final at Harwich and Parkeston and another Arter goal, plus one from Shaun Carey won the semi-final at Harlow Town. Halstead Town were Hythe’s opponents in the final and the game, Hythe’s 74th of the season, was a classic. For the last three months goalkeeping duties were shared between Steve O’Brien and Simon Jolley and they were given a half each in this game. Hythe went behind but a fierce shot from Tim Hulme levelled things before two Andy Allon headers looked to have won the game. Halstead fought back to equalise and force extra-time where Allon completed his hat-trick with a fine lob to clinch the victory.
Steve O’Brien; defenders Tom Warrilow, Alan Lester, Malcolm Smith, Dave Lee; midfielders Jason Wheeler, Andy Allon, Tim Hulme and forwards Dave Arter, Jeff Ross, Shaun Carey and Frank Ovard all played more than 40 games. Hythe’s 74 games saw 37 wins, 17 draws and 20 defeats, scoring 124 goals. Player of the Year was Tommy Warrilow.
The reserves won the Premier Division of the Kent County League, the second tier, and also reached the final of the KCL Invitation Cup, losing to New Romney in the final 4-1. In the Kent Midweek League Hythe played 16 games but failed to get out of the group stages of either the league or the league cup. It started off as a first team competition but after Christmas, with the huge fixture backlog, the reserves were used to fulfil the matches.
|19||Erith & Belvedere||40||10||6||24||46||73||−27||36|
|22||Folkestone Town||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||Folded mid-season, record expunged|
|3||Erith & Belvedere||10||4||1||5||17||24||-7||13|
|07/08/1990||Slade Green||F||Away||2-1||Tom Warrilow, Jamie Carney|
|11/08/1990||Tunbridge Wells||F||Away||3-1||Terry White, Andy Allon, Shaun Carey|
|22/08/1990||Canterbury City||SLSD||Away||3-1||208||Frank Ovard 2, Simon Bryant|
|01/09/1990||Dunstable Town||SLSD||Home||4-0||238||Warrilow, Dave Myers, Ovard 2|
|08/09/1990||Bury Town||SLSD||Away||2-1||334||Carey 2|
|12/09/1990||Hastings Town||SLSD||Home||3-1||465||White 2, 2 pens, Warrilow|
|26/09/1990||Erith & Belvedere||KML||Away||0-2|
|03/10/1990||Gillingham||KML||Home||4-0||Smith 2 (2 pens), Allon, Nohilly|
|06/10/1990||Erith & Belvedere||SLSD||Away||4-0||160||Carey, Jason Wheeler, Allon, Warrilow|
|13/10/1990||Gosport Borough||SLSD||Home||3-0||326||Ovard 2, Carey|
|16/10/1990||Gravesend & Northfleet||LC1R1L||Away||2-0||302||Carney, White|
|20/10/1990||Chatham Town||KST1||Home||8-0||290||Alan Lester, Carey 3, Ovard 2, 1 pen, Tim Hulme, OG|
|31/10/1990||Gravesend & Northfleet||LC1R2L||Home||2-2||293||Carey, Ovard|
|03/11/1990||Andover||SLSD||Away||3-3||258||White pen, Hulme, OG|
|01/12/1990||Pagham||FAV2||Away||4-3||140||Dave Lee pen, Ovard, Mark Weatherly, Warrilow|
|04/12/1990||Ashford Town||LC2R2L||Away||4-0||499||Lee 2, 1 pen, Carey, Ovard|
|15/12/1990||Haverhill Rovers||FAV3||Home||4-0||214||Hulme, Ovard 2, Carey|
|17/12/1990||Erith & Belvedere||KML||Home||3-1||Carey, White,Lee|
|22/12/1990||Bury Town||SLSD||Home||2-1||325||Dave Arter 2|
|01/01/1991||Corinthian||SLSD||Home||4-0||363||Arter 2, Allon, Ovard|
|12/01/1991||Newport IOW||SLSD||Home||2-4||285||Ovard, Arter|
|19/01/1991||Harefield United||FAV4||Away||5-0||141||Lee, Jeff Ross, Arter 3|
|26/01/1991||Sudbury Town||SLSD||Home||2-0||402||Arter, Weatherly|
|29/01/1991||Dover Athletic||LC3R2L||Away||2-1||1050||Arter, Lee pen|
|04/02/1991||Crawley Town||KFC||Home||2-0||155||Arter, Wheeler|
|05/02/1991||Gillingham||KMLC||Away||3-1||77||Ross, Ovard 2|
|19/02/1991||Hastings Town||FAV5R||Home||3-1||857||Arter, Weatherly, Lee pen|
|21/02/1991||Dunstable Town||SLSD||Away||2-2||95||Arter, Lee|
|25/02/1991||Whitstable Town||KMLC||Home||3-0||Hulme, Germaine, White|
|16/03/1991||Corinthian||KSTSF||Away||4-0||71||Arter 2, Ross, Carey|
|17/03/1991||Fareham Town||SLSD||Home||2-1||184||Arter 2|
|28/03/1991||Dover Athletic||KFC||Home||4-0||326||Gary Collins, Hulme 3|
|30/03/1991||Yate Town||SLSD||Home||2-1||184||Warrilow, Lee pen|
|01/04/1991||Corinthian||SLSD||Away||3-1||86||Lee, Arter, Ross|
|03/04/1991||Trowbridge Town||LCSF1L||Away||2-1||451||Arter, OG|
|06/04/1991||Erith & Belvedere||SLSD||Home||0-1||151|
|13/04/1991||Newport IOW||SLSD||Away||1-0||398||G Collins|
|22/04/1991||Harwich & Parkeston||KFCQF||Away||2-1||152||Arter 2|
|29/04/1991||Chelmsford City||LCF2L||Home||2-3||593||Lee 2, 1 pen|
|02/05/1991||Ashford Town||SLSD||Home||3-2||353||Ross, Myers, Hulme|
|06/05/1991||Harlow Town||KFCSF||Away||2-1||Carey, Arter|
|13/05/1991||Halstead Town||KFCF||Home||4-3 aet||402||Hulme, Allon 3|
During the summer Hythe again applied to enter their reserves into Kent League Division Two and this time they were successful. Steve McRaye was appointed as their new manager and the club withdrew from the Kent County League, where the reserves had played for the previous two seasons. The club again entered the Kent Midweek League. Another KCL club, Folkestone Invicta, won the right to use Cheriton Road after the old Folkestone club had folded the previous year, and they were placed into Kent League Division Two, along with Hythe Reserves. Invicta had a number of ex-Hythe players in their ranks, including Terry and Gary Collins, Clive Barham, Lee Harrington, Jamie Carney and Ivan Pickering.
Hythe had arranged a prestigious friendly at Reachfields against Fulham, with a first team promised, but due to the pitch not being ready in time the game was cancelled, along with the other five friendlies which had all been arranged at home. The club started the season with just the one warm-up game, an Eastern Floodlight Cup (Knight were no longer sponsoring the competition) group game at Ashford.
Two new signings arrived just in time for the start of the season, Sean Edwards, a right-back from Crawley and Chris Lyons, from Brighton youth, at left-back. A week into the season David Coldwell, a midfielder, was signed from Brighton. Leaving the club were Shaun Carey, loaned back to Tunbridge Wells and Tim Hulme on loan to Crawley.
Despite the far from ideal preparation, Hythe started the season strongly with four wins, including an impressive 7-2 win at Andover where Hythe were 5-0 up in 22 minutes. The FA Cup would prove a disappointment, losing to a lower side for the second season running, at Croydon Athletic in a replay. The first league defeat followed at Braintree but after a good win over Hastings at Reachfields the side moved to the top of the table. September also saw the signing of Peter Jarvis, a midfielder from Chelmsford, and the return from loan of Shaun Carey, but Jason Wheeler left the club. The reserves, after a disastrous start of eight successive defeats, replaced McRaye with ex-players Kevin Smart and Joe Valler.
After a good September, October saw one win and three defeats, although they were still second, and also an early exit from the Southern League Cup, which would at least ease the previous two seasons’ fixture congestion. November saw a win over Salisbury, thanks to Peter Jarvis’ first goal for the club, and the first games in the FA Vase, a narrow win over Herne Bay at Winch’s Field after extra time in a replay.
This was achieved without Lee Smelt, who had moved to take the manager’s job at Margate. Tony Walton remained as the effective team manager with club captain Alan Lester promoted to the role of player-coach. Walton also had a moan in the paper about poor attendances at Hythe and questioned whether the town deserved a team at the levels he was aiming at. League games to date had managed 200+ with a couple of local derbies getting around 400, although there were poor crowds in a couple of cup games. Belatedly, Hythe were sporting a new kit, yellow and green stripes and green shorts.
Christmas saw a derby defeat at Ashford and a draw at Buckingham as the club slipped to eighth place in the table, but at least another round in the Vase was reached after victory at Pagham. Hythe had warmed up for those games by putting the first team, without a Southern League fixture, out to fulfil the reserves game at Folkestone Invicta, achieving a 5-0 win and ending their 16-game unbeaten run, one of those occasions where doing the ‘right thing’ for Hythe was rather unfair on their opponents.
The new year started in the worst possible fashion with home defeats by Margate and Weymouth, dropping the club to twelfth and ending any faint chances of promotion. It was followed by another defeat, at Havant, which meant the club had taken only two points from the previous 21. But there was still the FA Vase where the fourth round draw gave a home game against Midland Combination side Evesham United. It would prove a long-running saga, similar to the previous season against Trowbridge. The tie was a classic, United leading 2-1 before Danny Whyman equalised to take the game into extra-time. Sean Edwards put Hythe ahead before Evesham scored to force a replay. Hythe travelled to Worcestershire for the Tuesday replay, only for the game to be postponed due to frost. Another attempt was made on the Saturday but this time the game only lasted 45 minutes before it was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch. Hythe travelled again the following Saturday, after having played two midweek games, and lost 2-0 after extra time.
February saw the arrival of Graham Matthews, a big forward from Hastings but results did not improve. Two more defeats, one at home to Erith & Belvedere in front of a crowd of 78, and a draw with Braintree whose goalkeeper went off injured in the first ten minutes, meant Hythe had gone 14 league matches without a win. Peter Jarvis left the club and signed for Margate. Things would improve after the return of David Carr, from Sittingbourne. In his first game, Carr scored the winner against Baldock and it was followed by an impressive win at Hastings, who would end the season as league champions. Hythe were 2-0 down but came from behind to win 3-2 with a Dave Arter winner. There was a big attendance for the Kent Senior Cup semi-final against Ashford, when a lone Danny Whyman goal in the 85th minute saw Hythe through to the final at Gillingham’s Priestfield Stadium.
The club’s financial problems were becoming more obvious to all; March saw many of the better players leave Reachfields to reduce the wage bill. Warrilow, Arter and Ross, signed for fees of 35K, moved to well-off Sittingbourne for ‘around half that figure’. Kevin Smart moved to Folkestone Invicta, Steve O’Brien to Canterbury and Andy Allon to Margate, both ‘on loan’ with returns planned for the Cup final. Hythe signed a number of replacements, Gene Clout from Tonbridge, Joe Radford from Margate, Adrian Lemoine from Ashford, Paul Collins from Tonbridge and Del Deanus, an ex-England youth international, from Spurs. The season ended quietly with a few wins and a few defeats and thirteenth place in the table.
Crowds had really dropped after the Vase exit, averaging only 140 even with a decent crowd for the Easter Monday win over Ashford. The Secretary, one Martin Giles, had a bit of a moan over the lack of interest in the town in booking coach places for the Kent Senior Cup final. Hythe’s opponents were Bromley, then in the Isthmian Premier. Some of the newer signings were ineligible, so some of the loaned-out players returned, including Allon from Margate and Dave Coldwell from Crawley. Joe Valler, the reserves manager, was also called up. As with Hythe’s Vase efforts, it was a case of so near but yet so far. Shaun Carey put Hythe ahead in the 8th minute, intercepting a poor back-pass to score. It was a lead Hythe held until the 84th minute, Bromley’s equaliser forcing extra time, where they scored twice more to win the game 3-1.
There had been talk from the chairman as the season ended that next year the emphasis would be on young local players, with one or two older heads for guidance. But a month after that cup final Walton had resigned the club’s place in the Southern League and the liquidator was called in, over money owed to a printing company, although the main debts were to Walton and the club’s brewery. It was the end of the adventure.
Steve O’Brien was the regular goalkeeper until the last few weeks of the season, regular defenders were Dave Lee, Chris Lyons, Alan Lester, Tommy Warrilow and Malcolm Smith, midfielders Sean Edwards, Andy Allon, Jeff Ross and Peter Jarvis with Dave Arter, Shaun Carey and Danny Whyman up front. Hythe played 59 games, winning 21, drawing 14 and losing 24, scoring 85 goals. Dave Arter top scored with 29, Carey and Whyman both managed seven. The reserves finished bottom of Kent League Division Two, and again the club did not qualify from the Kent Midweek League group or League Cup group.
|15||Newport Isle of Wight||42||13||10||19||58||63||−5||49|
|20||Erith & Belvedere||42||11||10||21||44||67||−23||43|
|17/08/1991||Salisbury||SLSD||Home||3-1||277||Lee, Arter, Myers|
|20/08/1991||Sittingbourne||SLSD||Away||2-1||888||Arter, Myers pen|
|24/08/1991||Andover||SLSD||Away||7-2||93||Lee, Arter, Allon, Coldwell, Ross, Myers pen, Wheeler|
|31/08/1991||Croydon Athletic||FACP||Home||4-4||253||Arter 2, Allon 2|
|11/09/1991||Hastings Town||SLSD||Home||2-1||461||Myers, Arter|
|21/09/1991||Bury Town||SLSD||Away||3-0||212||Arter 2, Coldwell pen|
|05/10/1991||Erith & Belvedere||SLSD||Away||1-2||194||Arter|
|08/10/1991||Crawley Town||SLC1R1L||Away||2-3||344||Warrilow, Coldwell|
|12/10/1991||Witney Town||SLSD||Home||3-1||211||Arter 2, Warrilow|
|23/10/1991||Folkestone Invicta||KML||Away||2-0||Arter, Smith|
|09/11/1991||Newport IOW||SLSD||Home||2-2||211||Ross, Arter|
|30/11/1991||Herne Bay||FAV2R||Away||2-1aet||216||Arter 2|
|02/12/1991||Folkestone Invicta||KML||Home||2-1||Whyman, Smith|
|14/01/1992||Dover Athletic||EFC||Away||2-4||377||Warrilow, Lee|
|18/01/1992||Evesham United||FAV4||Home||3-3aet||279||Jarvis pen, Whyman, Edwards|
|25/01/1992||Evesham United||FAV4R||Away||0-0ab||720||abnd after 45 mins frost|
|27/01/1992||Fisher Athletic||KSCQF||Away||2-0||52||Arter, Whyman|
|12/02/1992||Erith & Belvedere||SLSD||Home||1-3||78||Lyons|
|15/02/1992||Baldock Town||SLSD||Away||3-2||205||Graham Matthews, Ross, Dave Carr|
|18/02/1992||Hastings Town||SLSD||Away||3-2||707||Carey, Edwards, Arter|
|22/02/1992||Gosport Borough||SLSD||Home||2-0||189||Arter 2|
|07/03/1992||Buckingham Town||SLSD||Home||2-0||105||Arter 2|
|16/03/1992||Folkestone Invicta||KMLC||Home||2-4||Matthews, Whyman|
|08/04/1992||Bury Town||SLSD||Home||3-1||102||Carey pen, Carr, Whyman|
|20/04/1992||Ashford Town||SLSD||Home||3-1||308||Whyman 2, Del Deanus|
|01/05/1992||Ashford Town||KMLC||Home||0-0||Played ?|
|02/05/1992||Havant||SLSD||Home||3-3||141||Joe Valler 2, Carey|
|04/05/1992||Bromley||KSCF||Neutral||1-3 aet||877||Carey||at Gillingham FC|