History of Folkestone Invicta F.C
Folkestone Invicta Football Club, which was formed in 1936 and played in the East Kent Amateur League (now the Kent County League), took over use of the Cheriton Road ground in early 1991 after the demise of the old Folkestone club who had enjoyed a long history in the Southern League.
Under manager Gary Staniforth, Invicta joined the Winstonlead Kent League and completed the Division Two league and cup double during the 1991-92 season, also winning the Kent Intermediate Shield that season.
Invicta achieved senior status and joined Division One of the Winstonlead Kent League, making steady progress in its first two seasons at this level under club stalwart Staniforth. The nearest the club came to another trophy during these two seasons was when they lost the 1994 Plaaya Kent Senior Trophy Final 3-1 against Alma Swanley at Gravesend & Northfleet’s Stonebridge Road.
Former Folkestone, Dover Athletic, Hythe Town, Crawley Town and Sittingbourne player Tim Hulme then took over as player-manager for the 1994-95 season. Invicta at one point chased the Kent League treble that season, but ended up empty handed. The club were runners up for a second successive season in the Plaaya Kent Senior Trophy after losing a penalty shoot out in the final against Deal Town at Dover’s Crabble ground following a 2-2 draw after extra time.
Invicta entered the F. A. Cup for the first time during the 1994-95 season, beating Hailsham Town and then Southern League Premier Division side Sittingbourne before going out 2-1 at home to a Worthing side which included former Tottenham striker Mark Falco.
Hopes were high for the 1995-96 season as Invicta strengthened their squad, but things turned sour during the second half of the season as Hulme left the club, with his assistant Micky Dix taking over for the remainder of the season.
Former Canterbury City boss Darren Hare was recruited for the 1996-97 season, but after a poor start he was soon replaced by one-time Folkestone Town manager Dennis Hunt, assisted by veteran player Bobby Wilson.
It was during this season that a club record 2,332 saw the club play hosts to West Ham United in a benefit game following freak floods in the town. A strong West Ham side included Portuguese World Cup star Paolo Futre, Julian Dicks, Frank Lampard and Stan Lazaridis.
It was the arrival of manager Neil Cugley from Ashford Town during the summer of 1997 which was to provide the catalyst for the return of Southern League football to the town.Cugley made an immediate impact as promotion was achieved by finishing runners up to Herne Bay in 1997-98 when the club also finished runners up in the Plaaya Kent Senior Trophy for the third time after losing 1-0 in the final to Greenwich Borough at Ashford Town’s Homelands ground.But under manager Cugley the club were to be permanent fixtures in the top three of their respective division for three successive seasons
The club continued to make good progress in 1998-99 as Southern League football returned to Folkestone. Invicta finished third in the Dr. Martens League Southern Division behind champions Havant & Waterlooville and runners up Margate, with the promotion race going to the final day of the season. Invicta also reached the final of the 1999 Kent Senior Cup where they lost 1-0 at home to then Conference club Welling United. The club also made its mark in the F.A. Umbro Trophy by beating Conference club Hayes to reach the Third Round before going out 8-4 in an incredible tie away to three-times winners Woking.
The 1999-2000 season saw the club achieve more progress with promotion to the Dr. Martens League Premier Division as runners up to Fisher Athletic (London) in the Eastern Division. Again there was final day heartbreak for Invicta as the championship went right to the wire with Fisher winning awayto Newport (Isle of Wight) to make Invicta’s final day win at Wisbech in vein. Invicta went down 1-0 at home to holders and eventual winners Kingstonian in the F.A. Umbro Trophy and again reached the Kent Senior Cup Final, but went down again, this time 3-0 to Gravesend & Northfleet, their fifth successive defeat in a cup final as a senior side. It was a good season all round for the club as the reserves won the Kent Intermediate Cup and the youth team won their section of the MUSH Kent Youth League and reached the 2nd Round of the Times Sponsored F. A. Youth Cup before bowing out 6-0 against a strong Millwall side at the New Den
The 2000-01 season saw the club compete in the Dr Martens League Premier Division for the first time and Invicta achieved their objective of staying up. In the process they were the only side to win away to Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion at Eton Park.
The 2001-02 season saw an improved Invicta side briefly top the Premier Division table for the first time in the club’s history during the opening weeks of the season. The club reached the 4th Qualifying Round of the F. A. Cup but were beaten 5-1 in a replay away to Welling United after drawing the initial tie 1-1 with a lucrative trip to Reading as the prize. The season ended on a dramatic note as Invicta 3-3 home draw with Tamworth on the final day of the season denied the Lambs the championship – that game was watched by a crowd of 1,277, the highest ever home attendance for an Invicta league match.
That record was broken in August 2002 when the visit of neighbours Dover Athletic attracted a crowd of 1,446 to Cheriton Road. But the 2002-03 season was to prove a difficult season for Invicta as financial constraints took their toll. The club finished bottom of the table and was relegated back down to the Eastern Division.
The 2003-04 season was more successful for Invicta as the club finished fifth in the Eastern Division to win promotion via the re-structuring of the non-league game. Highlights of the season were a club record unbeaten 24-match league run and reaching the Third Round of the F. A. Trophy before bowing out at home to Nationwide Conference club Stevenage Borough.
The club switched from the Southern League to the Ryman (Isthmian) Premier League for the 2004-05 season and finished in a mid table position. Striker James Dryden broke both the club’s record senior appearance and goalscoring records during the season and a new home league record attendance of 2,278 saw Invicta win 1-0 at home to local rivals Dover Athletic over Christmas. A 2,390 crowd saw Invicta win the return 1-0 over the Easter weekend.
But the club was to suffer real tragedy on Tuesday April 12th, 2005 when striker Paul Sykes collapsed on the pitch and died during a Kent Senior Cup semi final against one of his former clubs Margate. Invicta subsequently pulled out of the competition to allow Margate to play another of Paul’s former clubs Dover Athletic in the final at Folkestone when the Kent footballing community came together to remember one of its most popular characters.
Folkestone Invicta went into the 2005-06 season in good spirits with a new sponsorship deal with local coach company Buzzlines which resulted in the ground being re-named the Buzzlines Stadium. The club subsequently enjoyed its best ever run in the F. A. Cup, going down 2-1 away to Chester City in the First Round after leading 1-0 at half time thanks to an early Adam Flanagan goal which was shown on Match of the Day. The reserves also finished as champions of the Kentish Observer Football League Division Two and the club also enjoyed great success at youth level.
The 2006-07 season saw the club maintain its Ryman Premier League status on the final day of the season with a 1-1 draw away to Carshalton. But last season was to see the club relegated on the final day of the season with a 1-0 home defeat against Maidstone United in a winner-takes-all encounter.
2008-09 saw the club in the Ryman League Division One South but a financial crisis put paid to early season hopes of promotion and the club put its faith in a predominantly young, local, up-and-coming side.
That faith came to fruition during a truly remarkable 2009-10 season that saw the club win promotion from the Ryman League Division One South and reach the final of the Kent Senior Cup (losing 3-1 to Sittingbourne). Operating with a small squad, Invicta were denied the championship after being docked ten points for entering into a CVA agreement but were promoted via the pay-offs.
Croydon Athletic clinched the championship with a 0-0 draw on a memorable night at Invicta after both towns had paid tribute to Rifleman Peter Aldridge of A Company 4 Rifles, who had died in an explosion in Afghanistan, aged just 19, becoming the 250th UK serviceman to die in the campaign. New Invicta chairman Lynn Woods’ efforts in staging the commemoration were rewarded with a 2,134 crowd.
Invicta – who conceded just 23 goals in 42 league games – recovered from the disappointment of missing out on the title by winning the play-offs. A thrilling semi final saw the club come back from 2-0 down at half time against Leatherhead to force a 2-2 draw after extra time and win 5-3 on penalties. Godalming Town were then beaten in the final as Invicta returned to the Ryman Premier League.
2010-11 saw the club relegated back to the Ryman League Division One South after finishing the season in 22nd position.
Generally speaking, seasons 2011/12 and 2012/13 have been fairly similar, on the face of it.
Each time, Invicta finished fifth in the table but lost in the semi-final play-offs away from home, firstly to Dulwich Hamlet (3-1) and more recently to our Kent rivals Maidstone United (1-0).
Fifth place, of course, means that you face the runners up in the table, arguably, and often, the strongest side in the end of season shake-up.
The summer of 2011 had seen the arrival of Stuart King, a previous Kent League Golden Boot winner and the prolific striker has been a key figure at Invicta ever since.
Both he and strike partner James (Ratty) Everitt figured prominently in the leading scorers list for Ryman One South with King’s eventual 27 goals (in 27 games) in his first full season at that level earning him a share of the R1S Golden Boot alongside Bognor Regis’s much-vaunted hitman, Jason Prior.
2011/12 was an enjoyable season when Folkestone fully avenged an early season (home) FA Cup defeat at the hands of newcomers Whitehawk by completing a league double over Brighton club who were - eventually – the runaway champions.
Added to that, Neil Cugley’s side shared the points on each occasion with the other promoted side, Bognor Regis Town, drawing 2-2 both home and away.
Their Achilles heel proved to be Dulwich Hamlet who, having never beaten Folkestone before that season, did the double over them in the league and also won the play-off semi-final on a bright sunny evening at Champion Hill.
But Stuart King started the 2012/13 season with a hat-trick away at Chipstead having ended the previous campaign with a treble on the same ground.
Invicta’s fine start – and King’s goals - shot them to the top of the table very early on, and it was not till they visited Dulwich (again!!) that their unbeaten start to the season came to an end.
Top scorer King already had 17 more goals for the club when finances forced his sale to Maidstone in late November 2012 (where he helped the ambitious Stones gain promotion, at Invicta’s expense, through the play-offs).
Three more experienced players were to leave Cheriton Road before the end of 2012 to help reduce the wage bill, but thanks to youngsters like Richard Atkins, Nat Blanks, Phil Stevenson and Johan Ter Horst – all products of Invicta’s youth section – Folkestone enjoyed an excellent second half of the campaign and again reached the play-offs thanks to Ter Horst’s fine strike in 1-0 home win over Herne Bay.
Though still struggling against Dulwich – this time the eventual champions – Invicta had again done well against the eventual runners-up, Maidstone, drawing 2-2 home and away before going out of the play-offs in front of a crowd of more than 2,000 at the Gallagher Stadium on the last day of April.
Stuart King’s return to Invicta during the close season sparked a great deal of optimism for the 2013/14 campaign with a couple more name signings also brought in by boss Neil Cugley for the start of his 17th season in charge at the newly-renamed Fullicks Stadium.
HONOURS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Kent County League Div 1 1969/70 champions,1976/77 runners up.
Kent County League Prem. Division 1978/9 champions
'Les Leckie' Cup winners 1990/1 runners-up 1987/8
Joined Kent League:1991-92.
Achieved senior status:1992.
Kent League Division One runners up:1997-98.
Plaaya Kent Senior Trophy runners up:1993-94, 1994-95, 1997-98.
Kent League Division Two champions:1991-92.
Kentish Observer Football League Division Two champions:2005-06
Kent League Division Two Cup winners:1991-92, 1995-96.
Kent League Division One Cup runners up: 2000-01.
Kent Intermediate Shield Winners:1991-92.
Kent Intermediate Cup Winners:1999-2000.
Joined Southern League:1998.
Dr. Martens League Eastern Division runners up:1999-2000.
Kent Senior Cup runners up:1998-99, 1999-2000, 2003-04, 2009-10.
Joined Ryman League in 2004
Ryman League Division One South Play Off winners 2009-10.
Ryman League Division One South runners up 2009-10
Ryman League Division One South Play Off 2011-12.
Ryman League Division One South Play Off 2012-13.
Ryman League Division One South runners up 2013-14
Best run in F.A. Trophy:Third Round (1998-99, 2000-01, 2003-04, 2011-12).
Best run in F.A. Cup:First Round Proper (2005-06).
Best run in F.A. Vase:4th Round (1997-98).
Biggest senior win:13-0 v Faversham (May 1995).
Biggest senior defeat:1-7 v Crockenhill (February 1993) and v Welling United (Kent Senior Cup,
Highest home attendance:2,332 v West Ham United, Mayor’s Flood Fund Benefit (November 1996).
Record attendance at ground:7,881 Folkestone v Margate in Kent Senior Cup (1958).Most senior appearances:Micheal Eveirtt 483(74).
Most senior goals:James Dryden (141).
Most goals in one game:Dave Arter (6 v Lordswood in February 1998).
Club statistics FA Cup, up to 2013/14
Highs & Lows