Grier's Guide to the 2006-07 Season
Originally printed in the programme five years ago, Simon Grier reviews a season that was mostly frustrating for Ks but eventually laid the groundwork for better times to come.
Despite a strong second half of the previous season and Surrey Cup glory, manager Ian McDonald was controversially sacked over the summer, replaced by his assistant Stuart McIntyre.
McIntyre’s job was to try to make the Ryman One South playoffs after a near miss the previous season. Most of the squad returned, bolstered by a comeback for winger Dean Lodge and a much-needed safe pair of hands in Luke Garrard.
The season started with a somewhat fortunate 2-1 win at home to Ashford Town, Danny Morris and Scott Corbett grabbing goals to overcome the dismissal of Garrard on his debut.
Three defeats followed though, and if defeats against strong opposition in Croydon Athletic and Dover Athletic were forgivable, then a 2-1 home defeat to Horsham YMCA rang major alarm bells. Ks eased through the preliminary round of the FA Cup with a 3-1 win at home to Sussex League Pagham but elimination followed in the next round to Premier Division Ramsgate.
The return of Mazin Ahmad helped Ks to temporarily improve their league form, he and Lodge making a formidable duo on the wings. Three league wins in a row came over Godalming, Chatham and Walton Casuals, followed by a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Dover that the referee struggled to control. He eventually sent off two Dover players and Ks left-back Steve Symes, as well as McIntyre from the dugout. Ahmad lit up the encounter, scoring a penalty and making one for midfielder Corbett but in a recurring theme the strikeforce was misfiring.
Collapse in form
The unbeaten run came to end at 'home' to Fleet Town. With AFC Wimbledon progressing in the FA Cup, Kingsmeadow was unavailable on the Saturday; to date, Fleet are still the only team to refuse a switch to the Sunday in such circumstances. And so 'home' for the day became Hampton's Beveree Ground, where the (official) visitors recorded a controversial 2-1 win.
Involvement in the FA Trophy ended in the first qualifying round, although it at least provided cracking entertainment - a 2-2 draw away to AFC Sudbury, followed by an agonising 3-2 home defeat thanks to an injury time goal following the dismissal of Richard Taylor. Failure to defend the Surrey Cup offered no such entertainment though in a tame defeat at Corinthian-Casuals where Symes got his third red card in as many months.
None of the next seven league games produced wins either, with Ks struggling for goals and McIntyre running out of ideas. The squad continued to change with Ahmad and Lodge both departing, the former sadly permanently. New signings included veteran defender Jamie Jarvis, midfielders Craig Lewington and Gary Drewett, striker Adolph Amoako and 44 year old club legend Dave Leworthy but little clicked for Ks.
Ks motivated themselves to beat a Molesey side featuring four of their ex players but the win was not built upon as Ks followed up with a draw at Burgess Hill and then three home defeats over Christmas and New Year.
In his Ks Web interview after the last of those losses, 3-1 at home to Croydon Athletic, McIntyre sounded short of ideas as to how to turn around Ks' slide towards the unthinkable prospect of relegation into county football. His departure from the club came a few days later.
A new era
His replacement was the man who would come to personify the era for Ks, Alan Dowson. Initially dubbed the 'Genial Geordie' by the local press before they settled on the simpler moniker 'Dowse', he arrived with a track record of securing promotion for Walton and Hersham, and a no-nonsense attitude.
He immediately signed defender Simon Sobihy, midfielder Wes Goggin and striker Bobby Traynor, putting all of them into the side for his managerial debut. It finished in a 3-1 home defeat to high-flying Dover, although Traynor grabbed what would the first of an incredible 154 club goals, and 51 penalties from 52 attempts.
Two more defeats followed but Dowson continued to add his own men to the squad and soon Ks began to pick up points again. Striker Saheed Sankoh, defender Wayne Finnie and midfielders NJ Lampton and Simon Huckle arrived, the latter a combative player who would go on to make over 250 appearances for the club.
Form remained patchy but Ks were easily doing enough to cement a midtable finish and Dowson was most concerned about building for the next year as the season petered out into a safe 13th place finish, which remains the club's worst ever in the football pyramid. Traynor was the main bright spark, grabbing 15 goals in his 19 games.
Other highlights included him volleying home a late equaliser to grab a 3-3 draw at home to Tooting and Sankoh scoring a 30-yard screamer in a win against Met Police. More alarming results included a 5-2 reverse against Dulwich and a dismal 3-0 loss to relegation-threatened Whyteleafe, both at Kingsmeadow. By the time Ks ground out a tough 2-0 win at Molesey with a Traynor brace it ended a ghastly run of just a single clean sheet in 31 games under both managers.
Ks eventually used some 52 players through the season, a stark contrast to just 34 when they won the league two seasons later (although still dwarfed by the complete mess that 2018-19 turned into). It finished with a 5-0 thumping of Burgess Hill Town and the building work Dowson was undertaking provided much optimism for the following season; but 2006-07 was a season Ks fans were delighted to see the back of.
Picture of Simon Sobihy courtesy of www.kingstonian.net