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VCD Athletic ecstatic after latest promotion

PUBLISHED: 08:00 03 May 2014

Gary Rump stands proud after his team's promotion. Photo credit: Paul Young

Gary Rump stands proud after his team's promotion. Photo credit: Paul Young

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Those connected with Vickers Crayford and Dartford Athletic Football Club are in ecstasy with the team's recent achievements but it has not always been that way.

Oakwood - VCD Athletic's groundOakwood - VCD Athletic's ground

In 2007, the year chairman Gary Rump took over the running of the club, The Vickers, as they are better known, were demoted back to Kent Senior League for failing to meet a stadium requirement set by the league.

The club’s crime? They had failed to ensure a two metre path around the ground was “fit for purpose”.

“From the backroom staff to the playing staff – everyone was devastated,” recalls Mr Rump, 52, from Bexleyheath.

“We [consequently] lost the players. They’d had a year playing in the league above – where there was a better standard of football being played and better facilities.

“The team could not face going back to the Kent Senior League. We could have quite easily folded [as a club] there and then.”

Last weekend, a different group of players secured promotion to Isthmian Ryman Premier League - three tiers below the Football League - their second title success in as many years, after winning the Kent League in 2013.

A wonderful achievement when you consider The Vickers were favourites to be relegated at the start of the season - and 66/1 outsiders to win the league title.

“We have shown tenacity – sometimes you just have to dig deep,” says Mr Rump, who runs his own car dealership during the week.

He admits his funding of the club has helped. “We are not swimming in money but we are not sinking in debt either,” he smiles.

Mr Rump believes “the sky is the limit” for what the future holds for The Vickers. The club has not reached such heights since three years after its conception in 1919 when seven Arsenal Football Club players turned out for them.

Employees from British engineering firm Vickers, which had a factory in Crayford and Dartford, originally formed the club.

“That is how we got off the ground,” adds club historian Geoff Wells, 78, of Silverdale Road, Bexleyheath, who has been connected with the club for five decades.

“The last eight or nine years since we got into senior football has been special – Gary Rump as chairman has been a revelation.”

Mr Wells missed The Vickers’ 6-0 thrashing of Romford which confirmed their promotion because as chairman of the club’s bowls team he had a fixture to fulfil.

“I did miss the match, but we were keeping up with the score because one of the blokes had a smart phone [with internet],” exclaims Mr Wells, who has turned out for most of The Vickers’ sporting sides.

Mr Rump is grateful for people like Mr Wells for keeping the club alive during its darkest days, but he hopes as The Vickers enter a new chapter they can attract more supporters to propel the team to even loftier heights.

“People will read about us and hopefully now they will come and support us – we are the only footballing success story around the Bexley area,” he says.

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