Hollands & Blair Football Club
Star Meadow Sports, Darland Avenue, Gillingham, Kent ME7 3AN
Affiliated to Kent County FA
|Matchday pass numbers:||231-236 + 2x all games |
|Chairman:||Paul Piggott |
|Secretary:||Laurence Plummer |
|Correspondence address:||15 Romany Road, Gillingham, Kent ME8 6UT |
|Fixtures Secretary:||Neil Dickinson |
|Program Editor:||Richard Day |
|Colours:||Shirts: Red; Shorts: Red; Socks: Red; Keeper Shirt: Yellow, Shorts & Socks: Black|
|Change strip:||Shirts: Blue; Shorts: Blue; Socks: Blue; Keeper Shirt: Green|
|Manager:||Darren Blackburn, |
|Midweek home games||Wednesday|
|Ground Name:||Star Meadow|
|Brief Directions:||Via M2, Junction 4 to Gillingham, Follow A2 towards Chatham, after 1 mile, Darland Avenue on left|
Hollands & Blair - A History
Putting it simply Hollands & Blair FC have come a long, long way in a pretty short space of time but are still looking to progress...
The history of the club may be a little confusing but I will try to explain. It was in 1967 that a Twydall-based factory team named Hollands & Blair started out and they were to become quite successful as they won the Rochester & District League Division Five in 1968-69, following that up with the Division Three title the following season.
Then in 1970, when you could have been watching programmes such as Time Machine, the Pink Panther Show or the Harry Secombe Show on the four channels of your television, the current club as it is now, was formed under the banner of H & B United and they began life in Division Six.
Their first ever game on September 12 1970 ended in a 4-2 away defeat at Halfway House but just seven days later a first win was recorded when R.N.S.T.S were beaten 5-3 on their home pitch of Beechings Green.
At the end of that first campaign H & B United finished ninth having collected 20 points (eight wins and four draws) from their 24 games.
The original side continued their upward spiral, winning the Rochester & District League Division Twotitle in 1971–72 and they followed that up by being runners-up in Division One the next season (1972-73).
Then in 1973 the two clubs merged, initially on a first team/reserve team basis but after just one season the Blair first team folded and H & B chose to continue under the Hollands & Blair moniker, competing in Division Four for the 1974-75 campaign. Still with me? It is more straightforward from now on...
Throughout that season, which saw Blair end as runners-up to Fleur having lost just once, against Priestfields, they scored 137 goals in 27 league and cup games which included a 17-1 victory at Borden.
Promotions continued in the next two campaigns, finishing runners-up in Division Two (1975–76) and then Division One in1976–77.
It was following this promotion that the club stayed in the Premier Division for 17 years, winning the championship twice and finishing runners-up three times.
Then the 2003-04 campaign saw the club reach new heights, winning a treble. They lifted a fourth Rochester & District League Premier Division title success, their second on the bounce, plus the Kent Junior Cup Group A and the Quarter Century Cup. It was at the end of this season that the club gained promotion into the Kent County Football League where they were to start in Division Two East.
However the step up proved no major obstacle as Blair went on to be promoted twice as champions in as many seasons to reach the Kent County Football League Premier Division for the 2006-07 campaign.
Over the years a number of grounds have hosted Hollands & Blair. Having started out at Beechings Green they have gone on to use the Civil Service Ground, the APCM ground at Cliffe and Beechings Cross before finally settling into Star Meadow.
Another ground to feature was Chatham Town, as you will have read above the Kent Senior Cup tie against Ramsgate was played there in November 2012.
It wasn't too long before they were winning this league too, on their way to yet another treble. Their first Premier title came in 2008–09, when they also won the Inter Regional Challenge Cup for the first time when defeating Orpington 2-1 after extra-time at Tunbridge Wells. Add to this the Kent Intermediate Challenge Shield, another 2-1 victory but this time against Rusthall at Chatham Town.
They retained the cup the following season, this time beating Fleet Leisure 2-0 in the final but they were to finish second in the league. However they did become champions once again in 2010–11.
KENT INVICTA LEAGUE...
Negotiations to form a new Step 6 division, to make promotion/relegation between the then Kent League (Step 5) and the Kent County League (Step 7) had begun in 2009 and these plans came into fruition for the 2011-12 season when the Kent Invicta League began – Blair being one of the 16 clubs invited to participate.
On the opening day of the inaugural season re-formed Ashford United were the visitors to Star Meadow where Nick Smith's 57th minute effort clinched the points for Paul Piggott's men.
At the end of that first season Blair, who won 17 and drew four of their 30 games, finished third, five points behind champions Bly Spartans with Phoenix Sports finishing runners-up.
KENT SENIOR TROPHY WINNERS...
In April 2012 Hollands & Blair collected their biggest ever prize when captain Ross Brookes lifted the Umbro Kent Senior Trophy which followed a 2-1 victory over Sevenoaks Town in front of a crowd of 350 at Park View Road thanks to a Nick Smith double.
The striker had already gone close three times before he opened the scoring in the 32nd minute, netting a close-range diving header from an Ashley Doe cross. Nine minutes later he made it 2-0, a neat build-up involving Brookes and Jordan Gallagher ended as Smith found the top corner with a quality chip from the edge of the area.
It wasn't all one-way traffic though and the Kent League outfit forced Blair to defend manfully in the closing stages and there were a few nervy moments after substitute Aaron Guard pulled a goal back six minutes from time.
The triumphant team was – Flisher, Dampier, C. Preston (Prescott), Johnson, Blackburn, West, A. Doe (Eldridge), Brooks, Hafner (Chiverton), Smith, Gallagher Unused subs – J. Doe & May.
Talking after the game manager Paul Piggott said afterwards: “It feels great! It feels great! We just said to the boys, we’re the first team from our league to go on and win that Cup and it’s great. They’ve got to enjoy it. They’ve worked hard to get here.
“This club was kicking around in park football ten years’ ago and one man, Plum has been at this club forty years. He’s been at the club when it couldn’t get players out for a pub game and now he’s in charge of a club that’s won the Kent Senior Trophy!”
The magnitude of this result meant that Blair had won a place in the Kent Senior Cup for the very first time and could have been drawn against either Charlton Athletic or Gillingham. As it was they were drawn at home against Ryman League Division One (South) Ramsgate although, because Star Meadow didn't have floodlights at that point, the game would be played elsewhere.
KENT SENIOR CUP...
The biggest ever fixture in the club's history finally took place on Tuesday November 6 2012 at the home of Chatham Town and what a cracker it turned out to be. There were an amazing five penalties awarded as the see-saw game finished 4-4 after 90 minutes with Michael Jenner grabbing a hat-trick from the spot, the last coming in time added-on, and Ben Brown netting the other goal from open play. Unfortunately after extra-time saw neither side secure a winner it was the ten-men Rams that clinched the tie winning 4-3 on penalties.
The Blair team on the night was - Smith, Dampier, Greenfield, Jenner, Johnson (J. West), Staff, Eldridge, Brookes (Gutridge), Hetterley, Brown (J. Doe), Gallacher Unused subs: L. Preston & Flisher
Proud but drained manager Paul Piggott spoke following amagical night, he said “I’m probably as drained as the players to be fair. But they’ve given me everything. They’ve absolutely given me everything. I mean I can’t ask no more from them. There’s a few tired bodies in there, I’ve got to tell you!
“When I spoke to the players’ before the game just us being in this game tonight speaks volumes of what the players’ have done over the last two or three years. There’s one thing that I said to them before today and that was don’t let yourselves down and don’t let the club down and they’ve gone beyond letting anyone down today!”
KENT INVICTA CHALLENGE TROPHY...
Blair improved league-wise in 2012-13 and eventually finished runners-up to Phoenix but eight points clear of Ashford in third place but they did add another piece of silverware which came in the shape of the Kent Invicta Challenge Trophy. This was won after Blair edged out Lydd Town 4-3 in an unusually uninspiring final at Homelands where Louis Valencia, Stuart West (2) and Ricky Freeman got on the scoresheet,
Speaking afterwards boss Piggott summed up the game, he said “At the end of the day our name’s in the book and the cup for winning today. There are a lot of unhappy people in our dressing room – we know that we’re better than that – but we’ve won the Cup so I suppose its job done, but we’re better than was what was out there today!”
The winning team that day were – Smith, Dampier, Greenfield, Jenner, Johnson, Staff, S. West, Brookes (Abe), Freeman, Valencia, Gallagher. Unused subs – Chapman, J. West, Eldridge & Blackburn
The 2013-14 campaign was a two-horse race for most of the season with Hollands & Blair and Lydd Town holding top spot at various times but it was Paul Piggott's men that eventually eased clear during the last two month's to claim the title by an impressive 10 points.
Unfortunately promotion wasn't forthcoming despite the SCEFL agreeing to admit the club because the F.A deemed that Star Meadow was not up to the required standard by the March 31 deadline. Even though the club appealed it was not enough for the F.A so we will be setting out to make sure it happens this season.
As the club look to progress up the footballing echelon, there have been a number of improvements at Star Meadow in recent years. There is a 3G pitch (available for hire), a new dressing room building is now in use, two small stands and a covered section of terrace have been constructed, hard-standing is now on all three sides of the ground and the floodlights were installed late in October 2014.
Blair didn't dwell on the matters of the previous campaign that had left a nasty taste in the mouth by going out and becoming Kent Invicta League champions once again finishing 14 points clear.
Lydd were the major challengers for the title but fell away towards the end of the season allowing Bearsted to snatch the runners-up spot on the final day of the season.
By that stage Paul Piggott's side already had two other trophies under their belts. In November a crowd of 232 were present at Star Meadow to see the first game under the new lights which was Blair, the 2013-14 league winners, beating trophy holders Sutton Athletic 4-2 in the Kent Invicta Challenge Shield.
Then on Good Friday Blair edged past Bearsted in the KI Challenge Trophy winning 2-0 at Meridian VP FC.
Blair also reached the final of the Kent Senior Trophy but were unfortunately beaten 3-1 by SCEFL outfit Greenwich Borough at Bromley FC.
The 2015-16 saw Blair stepping up to their highest level (Step 5) and they took to it like a duck to water. They led the table for a long while but a disappointing run-in saw Paul Piggott's side finish runners-up to eventual Champions Greenwich Borough.
When Boro visited on 26 March the game attracted a record attendance of 405 to Star Meadow, Blair dominated the match but the game ended goalless.
On Bank Holiday Monday (May 2) Blair picked up some silverware when beating Erith & Belvedere 2-0 at Park View Road in the Macron SCEFL Challenge Cup Final.
It was after the cup triumph that Paul Piggott called time on his seven-year spell as Blair boss. Following with tradition Blair made the decision to promote from within and named Bryan Greenfield as the new manager. The Scottish left-back has made more than 300 appearances for the team and he has the full backing of the club.
Although not a memorable season on the pitch, Blair finished down in eighth in the SCEFL table and quickly went out of all cup competitions. That said we did play in the FA Cup for the first time in our history, beating Horsham YMCA down in Sussex in the Extra Preliminary Round before losing to Ryman South Whyteleafe away in a replay.
The one big boost for the club was the progression of numerous youngsters from the U16 squad into Greenfield's first team but after a promising start things unfortunately didn't work out for Jock and after a poor start to the 2017-18 SCEFL season he departed.
NEW MANAGER COMES
Clint Gooding, formerly an assistant to Paul Piggott during his spell as manager of Blair, took over in November 2018 and the former Gravesend & Northfleet striker led the club, who only had two points on board at Christmas, to the safety of 18th in the table picking up 29 points to move above both Rochester United and Rusthall , quite a remarkable feat that he and the players should be proud of.
AND THEN LEAVES
However following the season's end Clint took the decision to step down as Blair boss with Reserve Team Manager Darren Blackburn being immediately installed as his replacement.
Darren is no stranger having previously played for the club for a number of seasons and has also had a big part in the emergence of our Youth section.
So another chapter in the history of our club begins...