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Folkestone Invicta defender Frankie Chappell preparing for his testimonial match against Gillingham

Centre-half Frankie Chappell (centre) celebrates scoring for Folkestone Picture: Alan Langley
Centre-half Frankie Chappell (centre) celebrates scoring for Folkestone Picture: Alan Langley

Frankie Chappell has reiterated his commitment to Folkestone Invicta ahead of Tuesday night's testimonial match against Gillingham at the Fullicks Stadium.

Chappell, 26, has made almost 400 appearances for Invicta since joining the club from Gills in 2007.

Aside from a short spell at Welling United in 2008, he's been able to call Cheriton Road home ever since and the centre-half has proved to be one of manager Neil Cugley's best ever signings.

Chappell said: "This is a big achievement for me. I’ve been very lucky with injuries and I’ve played a lot of games for Folkestone. It’s a great club and although I did leave briefly, to go to Welling, it didn’t work out there.

"I live in London but Folkestone is like my hometown club now. It’s a family club and my Mum and dad love it there.

"It helps being successful. I know we've missed out in the play-offs but we’ve generally always done well since I’ve been there.

"I don’t see any reason to leave. I’ve been doing the travelling for long enough and I’m totally committed to Folkestone. I see myself being here for a couple of seasons yet but I do want to go up this season.

"We’re all ready, we’re 26, 27 or 28 and we want to test ourselves in the Ryman Premier."

"There is a real intent to go and win the league this year. Everyone wants to win it and we’ve got enough about us if we all pull together."

Frankie Chappell gets his foot in during a play-off game against Hastings Picture: Gary Browne
Frankie Chappell gets his foot in during a play-off game against Hastings Picture: Gary Browne

Chappell may be part of the furniture at Folkestone now - but how did he first come to the club?

"Originally there was a link with Gillingham," he recalled. "I was a youth team scholar there but I was released as an under-18.

"Mark Saunders was at the club as a player-coach and Mark Patterson had been at Folkestone previously. I spoke to them about coming to Folkestone and when Cugs came up to Dartford to meet me, he really sold the club well.

"When I signed, there were a few people there who were based in Dartford like Kevin Watson (now manager at Chatham). We used to go down together."

Chappell's career at Folkestone has certainly never been dull. He's been promoted once, relegated twice and featured in five play-off campaigns.

He said: "I’ve been unfortunate enough to experience relegation with Folkestone. The first time (in 2007/08) was ridiculous because we had 50 points and that’s one of the highest totals a relegated team has ever got.

"But we did really well after that. We had the 10-point deduction (in 2009/10) and that was an amazing season because we still got promoted.

"We had a really young team the next time we got relegated (in 2010/11) and until March or April of that season, we were doing alright."

Folkestone have lost in the play-offs in each of the last four seasons.

Chappell said: "It’s happened year after year so this time we need to hit the ground running – and I believe we will.

"Cugs has brought in Carl Rook, Phil Starkey and Josh Stanford and they’re three players who are going to strengthen the team. We’ve also got some good youngsters coming through like Callum Wraight so we’re going to have a really strong side."

Cugley said: "Frank’s always a been a good pro and worked as hard as anyone when we trained at (new coach) Jason Lillis’ school at Sturry on Saturday.

"He’s a lad who always wants to push himself to be better and I firmly believe that his best days are still ahead of him.

"He comes from a good family and it’s always a pleasure to see his parents and other members of their family at so many of our games.

"Frank is a real winner on the pitch and a key player in both 18-yard boxes. I’ve lost count of the important goals he’s scored for us over the years."

Kick-off on Tuesday is at 7.45pm, with tickets priced at £5 for adults and £2 for under-16s.

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