DERES' TOP 100 GAMES - No 77

Posted by Mickey Cooper on 29 January 2020

Northfleet United    0         

Erith & Belvedere   1          Smith 10       

Kent League, 28 August 1926


Continuing the series counting down the 100 most memorable games in our history.  Today, an opening day to remember as the Deres hand Tottenham Hotspur’s nursery club their first home defeat in two years.




Erith and Belvedere on Saturday defeated Northfleet, away, by 1-0.  To realise all that means it should be remembered that last season Northfleet carried all before them in Kent football, and that they had not been defeated on their own ground for two years.  The all-important goal came in the first half, after only ten minutes’ play, when young Arthur Smith shot from 20 yards out and struck the base of the upright, the ball going in well wide of the Northfleet goalkeeper.


While all the team did well, and succeeded where all thought they must fail, special praise must be given to G Balloch, the Deres’ goalkeeper.  He gave a marvellous exhibition, and several times only his daring and resource prevented Northfleet from getting goals.  Sanders, a thrusting centre, often got through, but always Balloch foiled him.  The Erith goalkeeper enjoyed some good fortune, it is true, but after such a display it would have been bad luck had Northfleet won.  Not many teams will go to Northfleet and pick up two points this season, for Mr Lingham has got together a fast and tricky team, including several youngsters who will doubtless soon settle down.


Erith had practically the same defence as last season.  Coombs was in a new position, but after the first 15 minutes he settled down, and proved a worthy substitute for C Brown.  J Garmonsway and B Smoker formed the right wing, and although they took a long time to get going they did well enough.  A Smith, who last season scored a lot of goals for the Reserves, proved an ideal leader, always ready to have a go, and sending good passes to his wings.  The left-wing, Cleaver and French, was handicapped by Coombs keeping too far back, but French gave glimpses of really good football and was an acquisition. 


Northfleet: Moody; Clarke and Alton; Rowe, Pye and Mackesey; Pilcher, Rae, Sanders, Bell and Berry.  Moody comes from Barnet, Clarke from Clapton, Rae from Buick, Scotland, and Mackesey was with West Ham last season.  While the team played well together, and often got within shooting distance, the forwards finished badly against the keen work of the Erith defence.  Bell was in good form until he got shaken up, and Pilcher was a live wire, whose only fault was his finishing.


Skinner was appointed skipper, and although he lost the toss there was not much in the choice of ends.  The brilliant sunshine was tempered by a slight breeze across the pitch.  Northfleet soon attacked, Mackesey being prominent, but the visiting defence early gave signs of their strength.  From a clearance by Coombs, French robbed Clarke, and sent the ball across, and Moody had to save a good shot from Bell.  From a free kick near the halfway line, Northfleet pressed, and first Barnett and then Coshall did well to clear.  The play continued fast, with the ball going from end to end, with Northfleet more clever forward and Erith stronger in defence.  After ten minutes some nice work by Skinner enabled Cleaver to give Smith a pass, and he, getting the ball under control, sent a right-foot shot along the ground.  The ball struck the upright and went in, giving Erith an unexpected lead.


Northfleet did not like this, and soon they stormed the Erith goal.  Sanders got through when Coshall allowed the ball to beat him, but Barnett challenged the centre-forward, and Balloch came out at the right moment and cleared.  Sanders left his attempt to shoot too late, a fault that was often noticeable.  A centre from Berry gave Sanders another chance, but again Barnett got there in time and blocked the shot.  Clever passing between Sanders and Pilcher had an unlucky ending, for when Pilcher sent the ball into the goalmouth it hit Barnett’s heel and was cleared.  At half-time Northfleet did not deserve to be losing.


In the second half Northfleet failed to reproduce their earlier form, and Erith improved a lot.  After three attacks on the Northfleet right had been beaten back, Skinner gave Smith a forward pass and tricking Clarke he had only Moody to beat.  The goalkeeper came out to meet him and although Smith shot well Moody turned the ball for a corner.  French was next prominent with a delightful run and a pass to Cleaver, and the latter sent in a shot which appeared certain to score, but Alton got his head to the ball which almost knocked him over. 


In the last fifteen minutes Erith had two more easy chances to score.  Smoker missed the first one, when only a few yards out he passed instead of shooting, and Smith, from a square and low pass from Garmonsway, put the ball the wrong side of the post from five yards out.  The end came with Erith and Belvedere winners by 1-0.


Fleet: Moody; Clarke and Alton; Rowe, Pye and Mackesey; Pilcher, Rae, Sanders, Bell and Berry. 

Deres: George Balloch; John Coshall, Charlie Barnett; Sid Skinner, W Bell, Fred Coombs; Jack Garmonsway, Bob Smoker, Albert Smith, Cleaver, Jimmy French.


To understand how seismic this result was, bear in mind that Northfleet had finished 2nd and 1st in the Kent League in the previous two seasons, were in the middle of five successive seasons winning the Kent Senior Cup, and in 1925-26 had scored a staggering 172 goals in 36 league games.  They were the unofficial nursery side for Tottenham Hotspur, an arrangement that became formal in 1931 heralding a decade of domination of the Kent League.  Among their team that day was Arthur Rowe, who went on to make 201 appearances for Spurs and earn a single England cap.  After the war he became Spurs manager, winning the Second Division title in 1950 and Spurs’ first League championship in 1951.  Poor health cut short his time at Spurs in 1955, but he later joined Crystal Palace and took them up from Division 4 in 1961.


As for Deres, a few of those names went on to greater things.  John Coshall was the first ex-Dere ever to play in the top flight, albeit just 2 games for West Ham in 1928.  Albert Smith went to West Ham with him but didn’t make the first team.  Skinner and Smoker both played in France at the dawn of professional football there. And curiously George Balloch played under a different name – George Harford – and played 57 times for Millwall, later having spells at Luton and Carlisle.

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