MPE Football Club – in Maidstone for over 50 years

With a plethora of teams ranging from under 7 to under 18s as well as a senior side, MPE Football Club have been a constant positive for coaching and developing children in the town for an incredible 52 years.

 

Back in 1970, a new housing estate was built and it was called Madginford Park Estate. The Club’s founder members mainly came from this estate but some came from an existing area which was known as Mote Park Estate. With the club name unable to be called one or the other, MPE was conveniently settled on as a satisfactory compromise. CommunityAd had the pleasure of speaking to Under 12s coach Ian Harbord to find out more about this wonderful club…

 

Can you give readers a background into how MPE first formed and some of the work you have done during your 50 years? 

I’ll need a little longer to go into detail with that, but the main observation and achievement for our club would be the thousands of children that have been given the chance to play football with a smile on their faces over the last 52 years.

MPE is also entirely self-funded, we don’t get council grants like some clubs and instead have to rely upon the generosity of team sponsors who help pay for the kit such as Digital NRG which has just bought their 4th sponsored football kit for the club and Motorpoint in Park Wood who recently donated over £1500 to our club in sponsorship, which keeps the cost down for parents.

We also pride ourselves in being there to help out parents and children if they are having a hard time by ensuring that the kids can still play football regardless of the challenges they may face at home or at school.

 

What would you say have been the club’s most memorable moments? 

All of our teams have had some really great cup final wins over the years and we are constantly challenging, and beating on occasion, the bigger professional sides.

The biggest achievement has to be credited to our long-term board members, Dave Gubbins, Keith Taylor and Mick Rayner who have kept the club’s many teams going for the last 30 years of our history with their dedication and hard work.

Credit also has to go to Tom Nugent for organising our recent 50-year (plus 2 because of COVID) dinner, dance and celebration.

 

How were you able to overcome COVID-19 and come out the other side?

Mostly thanks to the way the club was positioned with finances and to our team managers who took on all the additional responsibilities needed to be able to get the children playing football.

 

How would you assess your sides current seasons and aims for next season?

Our aim at MPE is to compete as high as we can in all age groups but it’s also just as important to have fun and success for our club is seeing all the year R and year 1 kids coming to junior training at Mallards Way, Downswood, every Saturday morning between 9:00am and 10:00am and playing with a smile on their face. This is where every MPE team of the future starts, right the way up to our Vet’s side.

 

Over the 50 years, have there been any players that have been coached through MPE FC that have gone on to play at a higher level into their adult years?

The club has had many players who have represented the Town, the County and even the South East region over the years as well as having many players go on to play for Maidstone United and Gillingham who were once on MPE’s books as youngsters.

 

What do you enjoy most about the town of Maidstone and would you say you are supported well by the local community? 

Having lived in Maidstone all my life I certainly know that parts of the town are in need of a good spring clean, however, the outlying areas such as Bearsted, Loose, Boxley, Farleigh, and others have some really lovely places to walk, eat, drink and sightsee. The more support we can get from the community the better in our eyes and the more we can then help the community back.

 

Where would you like MPE FC to be in the next 50 years? 

The long-term plan, in hopefully less than 50 years is for the club to have its own ground, nothing fancy just a place we can call home.

 

Find out more about MPE Football Club via the team’s website or Facebook @MPEfootballclub.

by Matthew Hemmings

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