The history of the club

Cinque Ports Football Club – The Club History

The Club was formed in 2010 by Steve Bowers and Bob Chivington as Deal Town Rangers (Seniors) F.C., to provide a stepping stone into adult football for any junior footballers (15/16/17 year olds) in the district, as it had identified an area of Saturday football not being provided for and particularly with the decline of Sunday pub football. It started with just one team for the 2011/12 season in the Kent County League.

The response was very encouraging and for the 2012/13 season it was decided to run a reserve team and this was entered into the Canterbury & District League and both teams played their matches on a tufty, bumpy grass pitch at Castle Community College in Mill Road, Deal. The teams also trained there on Thursday nights.

The founders soon realised that if the club continued to grow they would need to obtain better, permanent facilities to be able to progress and leave a sustainable club for future generations of young footballers and their families to enjoy. So the search was on for a ground that they could call ‘home’.

During this time it was realised that because the Rangers were continuing to grow as a club, taking children on from six and seven and already having fourteen boys teams playing in the East Kent Youth League, two girls teams in the Kent Ladies and Girls League and a Veterans team, as well as the two Senior teams, the need for additional premises became apparent. Also the move by the Football Association to require some of the younger age groups to move to nine versus nine matches meant that the club was outgrowing the facilities at Castle Community. Some of the teams were already playing elsewhere if pitches were not available at Castle. The committee gave Steve and Bob the authority to search for an additional ground to accommodate the expanse of the club. As luck would have it, for the 2013/14 season, an arrangement was secured with Ripplevale School for the two adult teams to be able to play there for at least two seasons.

The 2012/13 season saw the first team finish sixth and were runners-up in the Les Leckie Cup losing the final to Sevenoaks F.C. at Faversham Town. The reserve team however finished bottom of the Premier division but somehow avoided relegation.

The first team were promoted to Division 1 East for the start of the 2013/14 season, due to the County League incorporating Reserve teams into the overall structure of the league so as to safeguard their Step 7 status. Their first game at Ripplevale School in Division 1 took place on September 14th and resulted in a 3-2 win against Hollands & Blair Reserves.

A week earlier the Reserves had their first game at the school which resulted in another win 2-0 against Dayspring Community Church F.C.  Unfortunately the reserve team were struck a blow when the manager resigned with immediate effect three games into the season and most of the players went with him. As a result of this though and a lot of hard work behind the scenes, a new manager was installed. As a result of this change in personnel many of the under 18s started to take part in the training sessions.

The 2013/14 season proved to be a struggle for both teams, not helped by the earlier departure of the Reserve team manager and this had a knock on effect for the first team as well. The first team finished the season second from bottom but as Milton & Fulston United had already withdrawn from the League earlier in the season Division 1 status was maintained for the 2014/15 season. The Reserves however were relegated to Division 1 of the Canterbury & District League.

Towards the end of the 2013/14 season it had become clear that because of the fundamental differences between the running of the two Sections, for the adult section to be able to develop and progress, an amicable split would be beneficial to both. This separation took place at the end of the season and Deal Community Sports Football Club was born keeping the same ethics, to provide a stepping stone into adult football for young players from the area.

During this time talks, which had been taking place for many months, with the owner of Coldblow Woods the former site of the Royal Marines Sports Field had developed to the point of the owner offering the Club a twenty five year lease. However, the deal was hampered by protesters that were arguing over the right of way. The legal process is continuing and to date has not been resolved.

At the end of 2015/16 season the first team managed to stay in Division 1 East of the County League and the Reserves in Division 1 of the Canterbury & District League but during the season the search for a permanent home continued.

In October 2015 talks started with Betteshanger Sports & Social Club and a move was agreed for the start of the 2016/17 season. The first team finished the season in eighth position and the reserves finished third but also winning the Whitstable Charity Cup at Faversham Town’s Salters Lane ground, beating Minster in the final 2-0.

During this time the Club showed an interest in the old South Deal playing field site in Freeman’s Way, Deal, which had been purchased by a developer. They kept this dialogue going with the Kent County Council and the District Council making it clear that they wanted to be considered for any proposal that included a football pitch with facilities.

Off the field, Karim Aisawi took over as Chairman from Steve Bowers, with both Steve and Bob Chivington becoming Life-Presidents. Craig Harman, who had been in charge of the first team since its formation was made an Honorary Vice-President. With this new beginning it was decided to change the name to Deal Sports Football Club and re-design the Club badge and colours to make the Club more marketable, prepare it for the next stage of its progression and make it clear that it had no affiliation to any other club in the area.

At the start of the 2018/19 season the club secured a ground share agreement with Margate F.C. and their 4G artificial pitch at Hartsdown Park and facilities relevant to the Bostik Premier Division (Step 3 National Pyramid) where they play. The Reserve team played at Bay Point Sports Club, Sandwich.

In October 2018 Craig Harman, who was running the reserve team and had been with the club since its inception, decided to call it a day and left with his assistant Dave Fairclough. Lee Crone was appointed manager with Hayden Sharp as his assistant and head coach.

Playing at Margate allowed the club to apply for membership of the Southern Counties East Football League (SCEFL) which had been accepted, unfortunately this had not been discussed and agreed with the founders of the club. Also at this time a proposal from Thanet United was presented to the committee which would have amounted to a takeover and they were instrumental in the application to join the SCEFL, thus jumping two divisions. The Founders considered this unacceptable.

During the 2018/19 season Mr Aisawi was removed from the club, with Steve Bowers taking over as Chairman again. It was agreed to change the name again to Cinque Ports FC. The founders felt that the move to Margate, although helpful in progressing the club on the field of play, would not secure its future. They felt a move back to Deal, where they were founded, and to find a permanent home was very important for this to happen.

So talks continued with Dover District Council and a lease was agreed for the use of Marke Wood pavilion and pitches, as an interim until a proposed local development including a football ground became available. Unfortunately the proposal from Thanet United caused a split within the club. The Kent County League were of the opinion that the Founders application to continue playing in division 2 (Central & East) and our reserve team in division 3 (Central & East) was considered as a ‘new club’ application. So the club found itself being interviewed by the league committee to give reasons why it wanted to join the Kent County League (although we had been members since 2011)! Thanet United continue to play in division 1 (Central & East) with the hope that their application to the SCEFL will go through for the 2020/21 season.

The news of the proposed local development could not have come at a better time in the clubs history and may result in the culmination of ten years of searching for our own ground by the Founders.

The name Cinque Ports F.C. reflects on where their players have come from over the past ten years and does not relate specifically to any town in particular. This is a massively brave step in the current decline in ‘grass roots’ football, to run three teams in our efforts to establish a sustainable Club and help it to continue to provide football for local lads from the community which it is proud to represent.