April Fool’s Day is traditionally (though perhaps not this year!) a time for jokers to wheel out the tricks of their trade – but for Fleet fans the day has largely been a joke at their own expense.
It’s certainly been no laughing matter being a Fleet fan on April Fool’s Day down the years with a truly dreadful record on the first day of the fourth month, ever since our first one in 1950, a 2-0 defeat in Wales to Barry Town.
Our last April Fool’s Day appearance, in the National League South three years ago at home to Welling United (pictured above), was one of only two wins and ended 45 years of hurt since our only other April Fool’s victory, the 1972 win over Merthyr Tydfil.
Even that 5-1 victory over Welling during our promotion season was fraught with nerves for the Fleet faithful with the Wings leading 1-0 for half an hour as we went toe to toe with Maidenhead in the title race.
Other April Fool’s Day clashes of note include a 1979 defeat to Maidstone in a Kent Senior Cup semi-final replay and a 3-0 reverse at Watling Street in 1991, in one of the last league games of the 20th century played between Fleet and Dartford.
In all, our April 1st record reads: played 17, won two, drawn four and lost 11.
Actual April Fool’s pranks at the Fleet in the past most famously included:
• 2012: the signing of Usain Bolt in 2012 following the London Olympics;
• 2014: the ‘loan a loo’ scheme due to drainage problems at Stonebridge Road, whereby local residents agreed to let fans use their toilets on matchdays;
• 2015: general manager Dave Archer landing a new role in charge of a ladies’ synchronised swimming team;
• 2016: shock recall for 64-year-old goalkeeping coach Ron Hillyard for the games at Hayes & Yeading due to a lack of available goalkeepers at the club;
• 2017: a new club badge partly in green to reflect the colours of the local council, plus the addition of two gold stars for winning the Kent Senior Cup, together with the Ebbsfleet ‘E’ logo from the A2 roundabout and the addition of the legend ‘2007’ to celebrate our name change…