The club’s return to the Kent League saw the return of Martin Giles, as press and publicity officer, having spent most of the KCL seasons without an official post. The club also gained permission to use the Hythe town seal as its badge. Hythe United FC became a limited company, with Steve Walker as chairman and Jim Robb and Tony Zapp its other directors. Added to the playing squad was Mark Palmer, returning after spells at Lydd and New Romney, ex-Norwich City youth Lloyd Partner from Dover Reserves, Dave Little also from New Romney and Clive Barham, Jimmy McGill and Mark Warlosz from neighbours Folkestone Invicta. Ian Daffin continued to run the reserve side in KCL Division 2 East and an Under-16 side was started. The kit remained all red with white flashes, now sponsored by Colin A Morgan, Solicitors.
Hythe found the jump from mid-table KCL to the Kent League a big one. Despite some decent performances the first six games were all defeats; the first point came in a 1-1 home draw with Thamesmead, Andy Bennett volleying the equaliser. Two games later saw the first win, new signing Darren Light from Tenterden coming on as sub and his half-volley in the last minute earned all three points at Corinthian. Two more wins followed, 4-3 over Ramsgate after being 4-0 up in 33 minutes with Lloyd Partner scoring a hat-trick, then a 3-0 win over lowly Crockenhill.
After that burst had lifted the club above Faversham and the Crocks, it would be another ten games before victory was enjoyed again, at home to Faversham. In the poor run there was a nasty injury to Partner in the game at Greenwich that saw him taken to hospital where he had to have a kidney removed. Also there was defeat at Folkestone in the first derby game for six seasons, 4-0 in front of 407 spectators. In the Folkestone side that day were Ricky Reina and Frank Ovard.
Steve Ridley had joined from Invicta and Hythe also signed Justin Light, twin brother of Darren and his two goals helped Hythe to a 4-3 win over Whitstable on New Year’s Day and a rise to 17th place in the table. After this was the return match with top-of-the-table Folkestone at Reachfields. Ian Hayes equalised in the second half and Hythe came close to getting a win in injury time. The crowd was 422, the second best in the league at that time. Again, Hythe could not capitalise on a couple of better performances, losing the next game heavily at Crockenhill but the game did see the return of Partner after his surgery. Five more defeats would follow before two Darren Light goals helped towards a 3-1 win at Faversham.
The following week, after defeats at Deal and at home to the eventual champions, Furness, Tony Hunter resigned as manager and reserve boss Ian Daffin took temporary charge for the final five games. There was one win, over Corinthian with goals from reserve players Paul Stanton and Joe Latty and the season ended in a narrow defeat at Dartford, who were sharing at Erith & Belvedere’s old ground, Park View. Dartford lost out on goal difference to Furness for the league title, but were promoted to the Southern League. Hythe finished 19th, with only Faversham below them.
There was no cup success, with first round defeats in the League Cup and Kent Senior Trophy. Hythe’s elevation to the Kent League came too late to enter the FA Vase for this season. The reserves had a good season, finishing third in their division, manager Daffin winning Manager of the Month for February.
Hythe advertised the managerial vacancy and announced Micky Dix as the new manager on the last day of the season. He had been number two to Tim Hulme at Folkestone Invicta that season, but was taking temporary charge of the first team after Hulme’s resignation in March.
Proper reports in the Herald mean this is the first season of complete statistics. Clive Barham appeared in 37 of the 40 games, followed by Mark Warlosz 36, Andy Bates 34, Paul McLean 33 and Jimmy McGill 31. Darren Light, Ian Hayes, Mark Palmer, Andy Bennett, Joe Latty and Lloyd Partner also played more than half of the games. Darren Light was top scorer with ten goals, Bennett got nine and Steve Ridley and Partner seven each. The Manager’s Player of the Year was Mark Warlosz, Players’ Player was Andy Bates. Paul Stanton was club’s top scorer amongst first team and reserves.
|01/08/1995||Maidstone Invicta||F||Home||5-3||Partner 3, Mahon, Hambrook|
|15/08/1995||Deal Town||KLD1||Home||2-6||149||Bennett, Dave Gealer|
|19/08/1995||Beckenham Town||KLD1||Home||2-4||81||Bennett, Partner|
|19/09/1995||Ramsgate||KLD1||Home||4-3||103||Partner 3, D Light|
|23/09/1995||Crockenhill||KLD1||Home||3-0||90||D Light, Warlosz 2|
|30/09/1995||Tunbridge Wells||KLD1||Away||2-2||135||D Light, Warlosz|
|14/10/1995||Thamesmead Town||KST1||Away||2-4||36||Latty, McGill|
|21/10/1995||Chatham Town||KLD1||Home||3-4||73||Partner pen, Warlosz 2|
|24/10/1995||Canterbury City||KLD1||Home||2-2||112||Palmer, Davies|
|28/10/1995||Greenwich Borough||KLD1||Away||2-4||62||Gealer, Palmer|
|11/11/1995||Greenwich Borough||KLD1||Home||2-2||70||Hayes, J Light|
|25/11/1995||Tunbridge Wells||KLC2||Home||1-2aet||89||D Light|
|02/12/1995||Cray Wanderers||KLD1||Away||2-4||84||Palmer, Barham pen|
|09/12/1995||Faversham Town||KLD1||Home||5-2||94||Warlosz, Ridley 2, D Light, Barham|
|16/12/1995||Ramsgate||KLD1||Away||2-3||60||J Light, Ridley|
|01/01/1996||Whitstable Town||KLD1||Home||4-3||172||J Light 2, Warlosz, D Light|
|20/01/1996||Herne Bay||KLD1||Away||1-5||152||J Light|
|10/02/1996||Beckenham Town||KLD1||Away||2-4||65||D Light, Ridley|
|13/03/1996||Faversham Town||KLD1||Away||3-1||33||D Light 2, Bennett|
|08/04/1996||Corinthian||KLD1||Home||4-1||70||Bennett 2, Stanton, Latty|
The new season saw a new manager for Hythe United, Micky Dix, who had been the number two at Folkestone Invicta for the previous season. He quickly appointed Dave Linstrem, Invicta’s Player of the Year, as player/assistant manager. There was a slightly nervous wait for the Kent League AGM in June but Hythe were successfully re-elected, after their lowly finish the previous season. Hythe’s reserve side were accepted into the KL Division Two from the Kent County League with Ian Daffin remaining as manager. In Division One, Lordswood and Woolwich Town (soon to become Erith Town) were also elected. Hythe would make returns to the FA Vase and the Eastern Floodlight Cup.
The season kicked off in mid-July with a game for the ‘Hythe Festival Cup’, a Hythe Invitation XI taking on Ashford but losing 4-1 in front of 300 spectators. It was intended to play this game every other year but this seems to have been the one and only occasion. Where is the cup I wonder? New signings included Danny Pickford, ex-Ramsgate and Invicta, Kevin Clifford, also ex-Invicta, Simon Joynes, a goalkeeper from New Romney and schoolboys Iain Cameron and Keith Marshall.
The league season began well, with a 1-0 win at Cray Wanderers’ sloping Oxford Road ground, but things went downhill straight away with heavy defeats to Ramsgate and Slade Green. Narrow defeats to Canterbury and Furness, where Hythe played really well, were followed by a streaky win over Tunbridge Wells. There was another win, over newcomers Lordswood, before an embarrassing defeat at Faversham, who had lost their previous 25 games across two seasons.
Hythe played their first game in the FA Vase for five seasons but missed their chances in a 2-1 defeat to Windsor & Eton, for whom ex-Hythe man Del Deanus played. There was little Corinthian spirit shown two weeks later as Hythe defeated the north Kent side 2-1 and lost the red card count 3-1.
November saw experienced defender Terry Collins return to the club and the signing of Phil ‘Zammo’ Hancock, a left-winger, from Deal. The month saw some good results and after a 5-1 home win over newcomers Woolwich Hythe sat in third place in the table. That game offered a ‘money back if not satisfied’ guarantee for which a mere 89 spectators attended risk-free. Despite adding Daran Wilkins from Invicta and fiery ex-Invicta man Dave Ward to the squad, league form would then take a dip with more defeats than wins. There was a big disappointment in the quarter-final of the league cup with a home defeat to Cray, a side Hythe had already beaten twice in the league.
Results continued to fluctuate, with some wins over the better sides such as Herne Bay and Deal but then dropping points when more was expected. The two derby games with Folkestone came late in the season and saw big crowds. There was 379 at Cheriton Road when an early penalty was enough for the home side to take the points. That Folkestone side included ex-Hythe players Bobby Wilson, Dave Gear, Dan Porter and our recent ex-manager Tim Dixon. The return at Reachfields on Easter Monday saw the biggest KL crowd of the season, 381, and a 1-1 draw and one sent off apiece. At this point Hythe were in eighth place but a poor finish, losing the last four games, saw the club finish in thirteenth position, but a marked improvement on the previous season.
Clive Barham played in all 48 games, Dave Linstrem, Andy Laker and Ian Hayes only missed a couple each. Andy Bennett, Steve Ridley, Kevin Clifford, Simon Joynes and Frank Ovard all managed over half the games, and Phil Hancock, Dave Ward and Daran Wilkins were regulars after joining midway through the season. Andy Bennett top-scored with 16 goals, Ridley managed 13, Ovard 12 and 10 from supersub Danny Gooding, who made only 7 starts but 30 appearances from the bench. Manager’s Player of the Year was Clive Barham, Players’ Player was Andy Laker, Steve Hobbs was the club’s top scorer, all his goals for the reserve side. Ian Daffin’s team finished a creditable fifth in their first season back in KL Division Two.
|03/08/1996||Hastings Town Reserves||F||Home||4-1||Andy Bennett, Steve Ridley, Gooding, Kevin Clifford|
|06/08/1996||Margate Reserves||F||Home||4-0||Clifford 2, Joe Latty 2 (Or Latty, Mahon? In KE)|
|10/08/1996||Charlton Athletic XI||F||Home||1-2||Latty|
|13/08/1996||Ashford Town||EFC||Away||2-3||Clifford, Bennett|
|24/08/1996||Slade Green||KLD1||Home||1-5||89||Frank Ovard|
|26/08/1996||Canterbury City||KLD1||Home||3-4||102||Bennett 2, 1 pen, Gooding|
|03/09/1996||Tunbridge Wells||KLD1||Home||2-1||89||Tim Hulme, Clifford|
|07/09/1996||Herne Bay||KLD1||Away||1-5||136||Ovard pen|
|14/09/1996||Lordswood||KLD1||Home||3-1||109||Ovard pen, Ian Hayes, Danny Pickford|
|28/09/1996||Cray Wanderers||KLD1||Home||3-2||97||Clifford, Hayes, Ovard|
|05/10/1996||Windsor & Eton||FAV2Q||Home||1-2||151||Ovard pen|
|19/10/1996||Corinthian||KLD1||Home||2-1||65||Ridley, Ovard pen|
|22/10/1996||Folkestone Invicta||EFC||Away||1-3||177||Lloyd Partner pen|
|09/11/1996||Thamesmead Town||KLD1||Home||3-1||109||Linstrem, Ovard 2, 1 pen|
|12/11/1996||Deal Town||KLD1||Away||1-3||91||Bennett pen|
|16/11/1996||Chatham Town||KLD1||Away||2-1||101||Bennett, Linstrem|
|07/12/1996||Woolwich Town||KLD1||Home||5-1||89||Hancock, Clifford, Bennett, Ridley, Gooding|
|17/12/1996||Folkestone Invicta||EFC||Home||2-0||102||Linstrem, Gooding|
|25/01/1997||Corinthian||KLC2||Home||4-0||75||Linstrem, Clive Barham, 2, Bennett|
|04/02/1997||Crockenhill||KLD1||Home||4-3||51||Bennett 3, Linstrem|
|22/02/1997||Woolwich Town||KLD1||Away||4-1||27||Clifford, Linstrem, Ridley, Richard Sullivan|
|01/03/1997||Greenwich Borough||KLD1||Away||4-4||47||Ridley, Bennett, Hancock 2|
|04/03/1997||Whitstable Town||KLD1||Away||2-0||130||Ovard, Barham|
|11/03/1997||Greenwich Borough||KLD1||Home||3-0||65||Ridley, Bennett, Gooding|
|18/03/1997||Herne Bay||KLD1||Home||2-0||80||Ridley, Ovard|
|05/04/1997||Deal Town||KLD1||Home||5-0||138||Gooding 2, Hancock, Ridley, Hayes|
Mick Dix started his second season as first team manager, with Dave Linstrem as his assistant and Ian Daffin in charge of the reserves. The club was also running eleven youth sides from U9s to U18s, with a certain Paul Markland managing the U15s. The home strip remained all red but the shirt sponsors were now Hythe company HV Wooding. Kent County League champions VCD Athletic had been promoted to the Kent League and it would be the last season that non-floodlit grounds would be acceptable. The first team squad had lost Dave Ward to Folkestone and added Kevin Clifford and Daran Wilkins, with most of last season’s squad remaining at Reachfields.
There had been much excitement during the summer regarding a pre-season friendly with Crystal Palace. Twice the Folkestone Herald had confirmed that a strong squad would be sent but in the end it was a team of young professionals, including Clinton Morrison, that won the game 6-1 in front of 1755 spectators, which remains Hythe’s second biggest home attendance behind the FA Vase semi-final in 1990.
If you liked seeing goals and were not bothered at which end, this was a season to enjoy. Hythe’s 48 games would total 216 goals, at an average of four and a half per game. The first five league games saw just one win, over the newcomers VCD, and four defeats, including a 6-0 Bank Holiday thumping at Folkestone Invicta. There was a good win over Chalfont St. Peter in the FA Cup, coming from behind to win 3-2 at Reachfields. In the next round Romford came to Hythe and left with a remarkable 7-4 win; they had led 4-1 after 22 minutes and even having a player sent off after half-an-hour could not help Hythe back into the tie.
Three wins, all by 2-0, in the next four league games saw Hythe climb to fifteenth position before an unusual game away to Chatham Town. Summer work at Maidstone Road had left the Chatham pitch unplayable for most of the season, and this game was their first played at Brompton Barracks using the pitch that the Royal Marines had played on in the Kent League in the 1950s. Chatham played a number of their games there and also played some games at Priestfield Stadium that season.
At the start of November Hythe had played only four home games out of thirteen but had risen to twelfth place. Youngsters Scott Wilkinson, Andy Towse and Scott Wilson had been introduced into the side in this period. Ian Daffin had resigned as reserve team manager and was not immediately replaced, and on occasions Mick Dix would take the reserve side leaving Dave Linstrem in charge of the first team game.
In December, after a run of six games without a victory, Dix made some changes which including putting himself in goal and putting goalkeeper Simon Joynes in attack for the game at Thamesmead, which was lost 3-2. Boxing Day was the home game with league leaders Folkestone and a big crowd, over a thousand, was anticipated but the dreadful weather saw the game postponed.
January saw former England international Mark Barham make another one-off appearance in Hythe colours, providing two assists in the win over Crockenhill. The following week Dix again played in goal, his hand forced by Joynes’ injury in the warm-up, the result a 6-2 defeat to Sheppey in a game played at Sittingbourne’s vast new Central Park. Scott Porter and Andy Bigginton were added to the squad.
Results remaining disappointing, with more defeats than victories including a home defeat to Folkestone on a March Tuesday evening that saw 562 present, but a couple of wins at the end of April saw the club finish in fourteenth position. The season finished in the worst possible way, with a 10-1 defeat at Swanley Furness, which remains Hythe’s biggest defeat in senior football. Herne Bay were champions, with a magnificent 107 points, but ground failings saw runners-up Folkestone take promotion to the Southern League.
Andy Laker and Phil Hancock made the most appearances, 47, followed by Kevin Clifford, Daran Wilkins, Clive Barham, Dave Linstrem, Danny Gooding and Steve Ridley. Simon Joynes made the most appearances in goal, of six different keepers used, with 25. Ridley was top scorer with 18, followed by Hancock with 14 and Linstrem, 13. An indication of Hythe’s all-attacking policy was that eleven penalties were scored. Manager’s Player of the Year was Kevin Clifford, with Paul Hackett for the reserves, Players’ Player was Phil Hancock, Paul Miller for the reserves. The Golden Boot, combined between first and reserve sides, went to Steve Hobbs. In the boardroom, Steve Walker stood down as chairman and Mick Knight and Paul Markland joined as directors.
|19/07/1997||Gravesend & Northfleet||F||Away||0-4|
|23/07/1997||Crystal Palace XI||F||Home||1-6||1755||Wilkinson|
|30/07/1997||St Leonards Stamcroft||F||Home||2-3||Linstrem, Hancock|
|09/08/1997||Whitstable Town||KLD1||Home||2-3||86||Stanton, Ridley|
|16/08/1997||VCD Athletic||KLD1||Away||2-1||108||Ridley, Gooding|
|23/08/1997||Thamesmead Town||KLD1||Home||1-2||81||Dix pen|
|30/08/1997||Chalfont St Peter||FACP||Home||3-2||72||Ridley, Stanton, Hayes|
|13/09/1997||Romford||FAC1Q||Home||4-7||203||Ridley 2, Bennett, Gooding|
|20/09/1997||Crockenhill||KLD1||Away||2-0||158||Gooding, Bennett pen|
|27/09/1997||Tunbridge Wells||KLD1||Home||2-0||103||Wilkins, Ridley|
|04/10/1997||Tunbridge Wells||FAV2Q||Away||2-3||168||Gooding, Hancock|
|11/10/1997||Erith Town||KLD1||Home||2-0||89||Ridley, Hancock|
|18/10/1997||Chatham Town||KLD1||Away||2-2||82||Hayes, Hancock pen|
|01/11/1997||Cray Wanderers||KLD1||Away||4-2||87||Ridley 2, Linstrem, Hancock|
|08/11/1997||Greenwich Borough||KLC2||Home||3-5aet||67||Hancock 2, Ridley|
|22/11/1997||Swanley Furness||KLD1||Home||3-3||79||Hancock, Linstrem, Hayes|
|29/11/1997||Ramsgate||KLD1||Away||2-2||97||Gooding, C Barham|
|03/12/1997||Canterbury City||KLD1||Away||2-3||47||Hancock, Linstrem pen|
|13/12/1997||Thamesmead Town||KLD1||Away||2-3||20||Linstrem, Hancock|
|10/01/1998||Crockenhill||KLD1||Home||4-2||64||Ridley, C Barham, Hayes, Linstrem pen|
|17/01/1998||Sheppey United||KLD1||Away||2-6||108||Linstrem pen, Wilkins|
|07/02/1998||Sheppey United||KLD1||Home||1-3||153||Steve Hobbs|
|14/02/1998||Ramsgate||KLD1||Home||3-2||71||C Barham, Linstrem, Clifford|
|24/02/1998||Heybridge Swifts||EFLQF||Home||2-5||Gooding, Bigginton|
|28/02/1998||Erith Town||KLD1||Away||4-1||30||Linstrem pen, Hancock, Ridley 2|
|10/03/1998||Faversham Town||KLD1||Home||3-4||35||Ridley 2, Andy Towse|
|28/03/1998||Chatham Town||KLD1||Home||3-1||75||Danny Pickford, C Barham, Gooding|
|07/04/1998||Whitstable Town||KLD1||Away||2-4||65||Latty, Hobbs|
|11/04/1998||Greenwich Borough||KLD1||Away||2-3||74||Linstrem pen, Jason Brazier|
|13/04/1998||Canterbury City||KLD1||Home||2-4||68||C Barham, Hobbs|
|18/04/1998||Corinthian||KLD1||Away||4-1||46||Clifford, Linstrem 2, 2 pens, Hobbs|
|02/05/1998||Swanley Furness||KLD1||Away||1-10||30||Linstrem pen|