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Herne Bay chairman Stuart Fitchie thrilled to see hard graft pay off as club earn promotion to Isthmian Premier


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Chairman Stuart Fitchie couldn’t hide his delight after seeing the work everyone at Herne Bay puts in pay off with an historic promotion.

Bay are celebrating going up to Isthmian Premier, beating Ashford 2-0 in their Isthmian South East play-off final on Saturday through a Kieron Campbell goal and substitute Aaron Millbank’s late penalty.

Herne Bay captain Laurence Harvey holds the trophy aloft after they win their Isthmian South East play-off final at Ashford. Picture: Ian Scammell
Herne Bay captain Laurence Harvey holds the trophy aloft after they win their Isthmian South East play-off final at Ashford. Picture: Ian Scammell

Mr Fitchie was thrilled to see the efforts of the volunteers, as well as the players and the club’s management staff, come good.

Summing up how he felt, he said: “Pure emotion. Not just me, but everyone in this club grafts.

“So to get to the play-offs, with the players we've brought in - that’s the reason why we’ve brought them in - but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen.

“Off the field, we graft. There’s no two ways about it.

"We graft and, for all that graft to pay off, it means so much.”

Mr Fitchie and manager Ben Smith joined the club in the summer of 2019 and they have, technically, earned promotion at the first time of asking after two Covid-affected campaigns.

He explained: “Obviously, this is the first season we’ve finished since we came in. If we are one season in and we’ve won promotion, that’s an amazing achievement!

“Who knows what would have happened in the first season with 10 games to go (when Bay were in the play-offs before the season was declared null and void due to the pandemic)?

“But for us to get into the play-offs, win the semi-final how we did (beating Haywards Heath on penalties with 10 men after a 3-3 draw), and to come here, and I thought we were very good value for the win.

“We weren’t coming into this game as favourites in any way, shape or form. But I have been asked 1,000 times between Tuesday and Saturday what are my thoughts and I rate our boys. I absolutely love them. I couldn’t speak highly enough of all of them.

Bay's players celebrate
Bay's players celebrate

“It’s what they deserve.

"The fans at the game, they were singing from minute zero to minute 90. It was almost as if we were the home team and that’s what they deserve.

“Everyone deserves it - we deserve it.”

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