The pens and the glory: a short history of K’s & spot-kicks
From the East Thurrock United programme, Taimour Lay did some research about penalty shoot-outs.
The drama of the recent penalty shoot-out victory over Royston in the FA Trophy sparked a terrace debate on the club’s relatively scant history of spot-kicks. Until it transpired that, actually, there’s been quite a few. Taimour Lay investigated.
Venerable club archivist Richard informs me that our first ever penalty shoot-out was in 1960 when K’s travelled to Holland for a four-day summer tournament. All three teams in the group finished on 4 points. It would appear that what ensued was a three-way shoot-out of some kind, a bizarre format which the Surrey Comet brushes over in the report, simply remarking that “K’s scored four times from six kicks from the spot. Davies and Gilson each scored one and missed one and Court scored two. RVC [the Dutch side] scored five times.”
How or why three players took two penalties each is never explained and may now be lost to the tide of history.
Incidentally, it appears that there was a repeated risk of K’s conceding penalties during the regular 90 minutes as well since the English visitors’ rugged style shocked the host referees. One of the games saw a Dutch team's captain pleading with the referee not to be so hard on the opposition. "I told him that K's played hard but fairly. K's are the best side here and should be allowed to play their own style”, the Dutchman is quoted as saying. The best side, perhaps, but we didn’t bring back the trophy. So far, so very K's.
With domestic competition characterised by endless match replays throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, it seems K’s had to wait 37 years before enduring another bitter defeat, this time 5-3 on pens to Walton & Hersham in the Isthmian League Full Members Cup Second Round in 1997.
A year later, on 3 November 1998, we finally had a win. A 1-1 draw at home to St Albans City in the final qualifying round of the FA Cup led to a 5-4 penalty victory. Gary Ekins’ match report notes that “after much deliberation the penalty takers were selected and, with the entire crowd down the Kingston Road end, the referee, Mr. J Ross from London, decided to have a laugh by sending the players up the other end.” (The report also shows its vintage by including such sentences as “the crowd of just 845 should have distressed the board”).
In May 2004, the time of the Great Pyramid Restructure and creation of the Conference South, K’s had a play-off semi-final at Harrow which featured a crocked Lance Key between the sticks. Unable to leap off one leg, and roaring with pain, he still managed to save two in the shoot-out, with one Harrow player inexplicably placing the ball to the side he could actually dive towards. As K’s emerged 4-2 winners, the keeper was visibly in tears. This dramatic triumph was, in true K’s fashion, promptly followed by a flat 1-0 defeat to Lewes in the final. And 17 years later, we’re still an Isthmian club.
The FA Cup shoot-out against Margate in 2010 is notable for being one of the few to have taken place at the old Kingston Road End at Kingsmeadow and is likely to survive for posterity merely because it was filmed on a phone and can be found on Youtube. It remains our most watched Kingstonian channel video.
In November 2015, on a freezing night at Merstham, a Surrey Senior Cup tie against Walton Casuals dragged on until K’s squeezed through 9-8, the victory widely credited to the K’s fans’ strategy of racing back and forth, side to side, behind the goal to successfully distract the Walton takers.
More recently, in February 2016, an Alan Turvey Trophy semi-final against Wingate & Finchley ended in a 2-2 draw. With the Wingate keeper having had to go off injured and no substitute stopper on the bench, it still somehow went to extra-time and penalties which K’s won 4-2. The Wingate man who missed the decisive kick? The very outfield player (described by Mark Murphy as "thin as a goalpost midfielder Rob Laney") who’d spent 70 minutes blagging it between the sticks.
Unlike for Davies and Gilson in 1960, there would be no redemptive second chance to convert...