Club records don’t fall very often – Steve Portway broke the 45-year-old goalscoring record for the club during the 1990s and Jimmy Jackson managed to break the appearance record in the next decade – and on Saturday another long-standing record could go – but this time, if it happens, it will be a team record rather than an individual one.
The record in question is the most consecutive wins in all competitions and currently stands at eight, achieved on four occasions spread over 60 years. Now the team can break that record by winning this weekend – but against fellow promotion chasers with an all-but-identical record this season, that will be no easy task.
Ironically enough, before last Saturday’s game made it eight wins in a row, the last time Fleet achieved the feat – in 2001-02 – was against the very team we need to beat to break a new record, Sutton United. That game also saw the debut of Fleet midfielder Steve McKimm (pictured) who, as a further irony, is now coach at Sutton!
The record the Fleet are attempting to beat was first set in the 1952/53 season in the Southern League and equalled twice more in 1983/84 and 2001/02. Michael Thalassitis’ late goal against Whitstable on Saturday was the fourth time Fleet made it to eight wins in a row. We look back at the three previous record-equalling seasons.
The record-breaking run began on 20 December 1952 and ended when Tunbridge Wells held us to a 2-2 draw in the semi-final of the Kent Senior Cup on 31 January 1953.
20 Lovells Athletic … A … SL 3-2 Brewster 2 Winter
25 Dartford … H … SL 4-0 Brewster 2 Hazelton Loukes
26 Dartford … A … SL 4-3 Brewster 3 Winter
3 Kidderminster … A … SL 2-0 Winter Loukes
17 Barry … H … SL 4-1 Brewster 3 Loukes
21 Tonbridge … H … SL 3-1 Jones Winter Loukes
24 Hereford … H … SL 3-1 Brewster 2 Loukes
28 Weymouth … H … SL 2-0 Brewster Evendon
George Brewster was clearly on fire at this stage and it can be seen how important he was to the club – but sadly within weeks his career was all but finished by a devastating injury caused by a defender’s clearance striking him full in the eye. He suffered a detached retina at a time when opthalmic surgery was far more primitive than it is today. The team finished ninth and also won the Kent Senior Cup by beating Dartford 2-1 at Gillingham.
In the 1983/84 season, the side equalled the eight-straight-wins record but this time had several cup games mixed in with the Southern League Premier Division results. Managed by Tony Burns, the side had a much more localised feel with well-known north Kent players like Gary Aldous, Steve Hermitage and Gary Julians all making big contributions as the Fleet probably over-achieved in finishing fourth – the highest ever in that division. The run finally ended on 15 October when Ashford gained a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup Third Qualifying round and beat us 3-2 in the Essella Park replay.
30 Crawley Town … H … SLC 2-1 Aldous Hermitage
3 Gosport Borough … A … SL 2-0 Burke Hermitage
10 AP Leamington … H … SL 1-0 Julians
17 Herne Bay … A … FAC 3-1 Aldous Julians Hermitage
24 Sutton Coldfield … A … SL 2-1 O’Sullivan Aldous
1 Bromley … A … FAC 4-0 Julians Burrett O’Sullivan Aldous
8 Alvechurch … A … SL 1-0 Burrett
11 Chatham … H … KSC 1-0 Julians
Our 2001/02 run will be remembered by many more fans. It was the season we took not only the Ryman League title but the Kent Senior Cup and Ryman League Cup as well. Managed by Andy Ford, the run began in early September and was finally ended on 9 October at Grays Athletic where the hosts won 2-0. After that setback the team then won six more on the trot making it 14 wins from 15 games before an unlucky defeat at Huddersfield in the FA Cup by 2-1.
8 Enfield … H … RL 3-0 Lye Barnett Hatch
12 Croydon … A … RL 4-3 Stadhart 2 Duku Jackson
15 Hampton & Richmond … A … RL 2-0 Stadhart Hatch
18 Hendon … H … RL 3-0 Duku Barnett Stadhart
22 St Albans … H … RL 3-2 Wilkins 2 Martin
25 Billericay … A … RL 3-1 Stadhart Lye Wilkins
29 Eastbourne Borough … H … FAC 1-0 Wilkins
2 Sutton United … H … RL 3-1 Booth 2 Stadhart