Little old Ide Hill FC, sitting up on top of the hill on the outskirts of Sevenoaks. A social footballing community, or a small social club? Well not for much longer as they are now a Kent County League (KCL) Premier Division club after they secured promotion as Champions of the KCL Division One West.
When the founding members of the club got together in 1923, they sought out to form a community club for the men of the village. Little did they know that 96 years later the club would be thriving with over 100 junior members and a semi-professional senior team to boot.
How it all played out
Ide Hill held their nerve in April to see off their bogey side South East Athletic to win the league title and an historic first promotion to the Kent County Premier Division. With Chipstead and Sydenham Sports both in action and in the chase, Ide Hill went in to the game knowing a victory would deliver them the league title, irrespective of what their challengers mustered against Club Langley and Long Lane respectively.
Coupled with the fact that South East Athletic had dumped Ide Hill out of two cups earlier in the season and held them to a draw way back in September, the visitors knew they would need a big performance befitting of league champions, and so it proved.
Ide Hill welcomed the final whistle and celebrated with real emotion at their brilliant league win. The core of the team have been together for a number of years and this is their finest achievement to date, moving through the leagues into the top flight of the KCL.
It was a proud day for all associated with the club, from manager and assistant, Paul McDonagh and Joe Bailey, to club legends Keith McGinn (Club Secretary) and Wally Paxton (Club Chairman), who set the foundations in place for the recent success of Ide Hill, with the achievements down to so many at the club beyond the playing squad.
Ide Hill’s only two losses in the league this year came against local rivals Chipstead, and both matches were not exactly close. Chipstead winning 5-1 at home in October before visiting Hill in December and winning 4-1.
Hill looked to avenge those defeats with a chance for the double at the Sevenoaks Senior Charity Cup Final on Good Friday. Although Hill took a two-nil lead in the match, Chipstead’s power pushed through and were eventually 3-2 winners. Chipstead deservedly doing the triple over Hill.
Manager Paul McDonagh, said on Twitter: “I am delighted to win the league, it has been a hard fought and competitive season, at one point four or five teams were in with a chance. Thanks to everyone for your support and congratulations”.
A super year for such a small club indeed. We can’t wait to watch the rekindled local rivalry unfold next season when they face Otford United home and away in the Premier Division.