On an afternoon where we should have been travelling to Champion Hill for the first time since 2000 to take on Dulwich Hamlet, we instead look back on previous matchdays on March 20th and… well, it’s not been the most auspicious of dates in the calendar with just two wins, 40 years apart, and more than 30 years since the last one.
Indeed in the eight games on March 20th from 1967 up to 2001, we only scored in one of those, firing blanks in seven other matches on this date during those years.
20th March 2010
Fleet 1-6 Luton Town
After having the unbelievably bad grace to stun more than 6,000 fans at Kenilworth Road by making off with the three points in our first ever meeting with former top-flight side Luton Town two months beforehand, relegation-threatened Fleet had dreams of doing it again momentarily at Stonebridge Road in this return. Before a 2,142 crowd, Liam Daish’s side took the lead on 23 minutes courtesy of an own goal when Janos Kovacs’ back pass ran long past his own goalkeeper. On a blustery, damp afternoon that was as good as it got even though Fleet went in at the break a goal to the good. But second-placed Luton moved into top gear for their fifth consecutive win within six minutes of the restart and added a second almost straight away. Frenchman Claude Gnapka claimed the match ball with a 25-minute hat-trick with the Hatters’ other goalscorers being Kevin Gallen, Tom Craddock and Matthew Barnes-Homer. Despite a strong fight against the looming relegation, it was this late winter/early spring period that really sealed Fleet’s fate with only a win and two draws in eight games.
20th March 1989
Hounslow 1-4 Fleet
With Fleet’s minds on a big title showdown with Chelmsford City ahead in the Beazer Homes League Southern Division, this convincing Tuesday night win through a driving rainstorm at least cemented a place in the top two promotion slots. Only 180 hardy watchers witnessed this at Denbigh Road (pictured below), the bulk of them travelling Fleet fans, as Andy Douglas and Gary Julians continued their fruitful partnership with a brace apiece. But it was Hounslow who took the lead as the far superior side in the first half before Fleet remembered they were in a promotion chase after the break and put on the afterburners. Douglas scored twice in as many minutes in the opening period of the second half and Julians added his two late on as Hounslow, who fielded future Maidenhead manager Johnson ‘Drax’ Hippolyte, collapsed after their early promise.
20th March 1965
Fleet 3-4 Burton Albion
With the FA Cup run of 1962/63 as swinging as it got in the Sixties for the Fleet, the club’s nosedive in fortunes was never more acutely demonstrated than when comparing the attendance against Sunderland two years before (12,036) to the 234 that turned up for this Southern League Division One head-to-head. Walter Rickett’s side had begun the season still drawing four-figure crowds, with 1,276 greeting the first match at home to Deal Town. But the home interest steadily declined as Fleet lost six games in quick succession, including by 7-0 and 8-1 within 10 days of each other. When Southern League Cup holders Burton visited on March 20th, it was an all-time low crowd (though even that number was to reduce by another 54 souls a few days later); nonetheless, those who were there got their money’s worth with seven goals exchanged. Winger Cyril Jeans (2) and local teenager Barry Thornley were the men on target for the Fleet but led by record goalscorer and future Stoke manager Richie Barker, the Brewers enjoyed the edge.
Other games on March 20th:
1948 Fleet 2-1 Bromley (Att: 5,580 – at Maidstone) / Butler, Prescott
1954 Bath City 4-0 Fleet (Att: N/A)
1967 Ashford Town 1-0 Fleet (Att: 660)
1976 Fleet 0-0 Telford United (Att: 1,007)
1978 Wealdstone 0-0 Fleet (Att: 365)
1979 Barnet 0-0 Fleet (Att: 310)
1993 Fleet 0-1 Baldock Town (Att: 540)
1999 Hampton 1-0 Fleet (Att: 228)
2001 Basingstoke Town 2-0 Fleet (Att: 275)
Pl: 12 / W: 2 / D: 3 / L: 7