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Nat Blanks Says It's Time To Move On

 

 

Neil Cugley has been having conversations with the players and unfortunately popular defender Nat Blanks has decided to leave the club and move to Isthmian League South East Division Cray Valley PM, managed of course by former Invicta defender Kevin Watson.

Blanksy, as he’s universally know, made his senior début for Invicta in a 1-1 draw at Ramsgate on October 2nd 2012, and he made 312 appearances  in all, starting 285 games with a further 27 as substitute, during which time he scored 5 goals. The most important being on Easter Monday during the 2016/17 season against Tonbridge Angels, when his 40th minute strike (that’s being kind!) secured not only a valuable 1-0 win but also our position within the Premier Division. Although with an incredible combination of results on the last day of the season, Invicta actually finished almost halfway up the table in 15th!

His last appearance for Invicta was on 25th February when he played in the 4-0 Kent Reliance Kent Senior Cup Quarter Final defeat at Dartford. He then went on a month’s loan to Cray Valley PM, but the season was of course brought to an abrupt halt by the Covid-19 pandemic which led to all games being  postponed and declared null and void.  

I caught up with Blanksy earlier in the week, to reflect on his time at the BuildKent Stadium. As is the case with him, the conversation went on for a good half hour, but it was as entertaining as ever!

NP: ‘Before we get onto the football, it’s been a strange time these last three months, how have you coped, especially with the arrival of little Elodie Isla during the lockdown. ‘Congratulations by the way to you and Kellie’.  

NB: ‘Thanks, yes, it’s been very strange, luckily I’ve been working from home, but the birth was a very weird experience. It was almost a case of dropping Kellie off at the hospital and leaving her to it! ‘I was obviously over the moon when Elodie Isla was brought home, but I don’t think I’ve had much sleep since then! ‘And I’m becoming an expert nappy changer, but how can so much so smelly come out of someone so small!!’

NP: ‘That’s one pleasure I’ve never had! ‘Moving is now the time to take on a new challenge, although I think I know answer.’

NB: ‘Mainly its due to the travelling and wanting to have more family time, as I’m busy at work and now I’ve got a daughter too. ‘I reckon in the years I’ve been at Folkestone, I’ve done over 50,000 miles            travelling backwards and forwards for games and training. ‘The M20 and M2 aren’t the best roads to     travel on any way, and when Kevin Watson offered me the chance of a good standard of football almost on my doorstep, now seemed the right time to take it.’

NP: ‘Kevin has a lot of respect at Folkestone for his time here as a player, and Cray Valley seem to be a club on the up, having reached the F.A. Vase Final and being promoted to the Isthmian League two       seasons ago and then being well positioned to earn a Play-Off place when last season ended                 prematurely - How did he sell the club to you?’

NB: ‘The fact he had been at Folkestone helped, as we have both worked under Cugs and I can see traits of his management style in Kev. ’Having played regularly at a Premier Division club, I’d like to think I can take that experience into the Cray Valley dressing room. ‘I’m a determined person and I’d like to think that I can help the side challenge for a promotion place again next season.”   

NP: ’And I’m sure you will. ‘So reflecting on your time at Folkestone, of the 312 games you played in, do any stick out particularly?’

NB: ‘I’m proud with all I’ve done and achieved in general at the club, with the Championship winning   season being a particularly great memory. ‘To win a League by twenty-five points is an incredible  achievement and to actually win it at home and then be presented with the trophy afterwards was  brilliant. ‘But if I have to pick out one particular game it would be the one against Tonbridge one Easter Monday when I scored the winning goal to secure our place in the Premier Division. ‘Sam Beale played the ball back to my right foot (he didn’t know me very well!!) on the edge of the area, of course being my right foot it came off my shin, bobbled past two defenders and then Ian Draycott moved out the way and the ball trickled over the line, I don’t think it even reached the net!’.A real scrappy one but so important at the time!’.

NP: ‘Yes, we all remember that game and goal, and will be forever thankful for that blockbuster! ‘Overall you’re goalscoring record at Folkestone is about on par with with Micheal Everitt’s! ‘But of the five you scored you wanted to mention one other.’

NB: ‘Yes, it was the equaliser in a League game at Faversham, when in injury time I made the score 2-2. ‘This time Paul Booth played the ball to my left foot and from the edge of the area my shot flew in, that was probably my best goal of the five, although not as important as the Tonbridge one.’

NP: ‘Well, that’s about it from me, do you have anything else to add?’

NB: ‘I’d just like to thank everyone at the club for making my time at Folkestone so enjoyable. ‘I’ve played with some fantastic players whilst here and learnt a lot off Cugs and Edgy. ‘Paul Morgan, Jim Pellatt and everyone else that runs the club do an excellent job and I’d better mention Sal, who has fed me pasta,   samosas and other delicacies after the games! ‘The fans are also good as gold, they’ve always supported me, people like Harry and Ted (even if he is a Spurs supporter!) and I’d like to thank them all too. ‘But I’ve now got the seven year itch, and it’s time to move on! ‘Although hopefully when everything has settled down I’ll be able to come down to Folkestone and say good bye properly’.

NP: ‘Thanks for your time today mate, and it’ll be good to see you when you can make it. ‘Is that the baby I hear crying - Where’s the nappies?!’      

 

 

The picture above shows Blanksy receiving his ‘Man of the Match’ Award after the Carshalton Athletic game played at the start of February.

Manager Neil Cugley said; ‘Obviously, I’m very sorry to see Blanksy go, but I fully understand his reasons, it was incredible the number of miles he has travelled whilst at the club, and with a busy job and a      daughter just arrived it is time for him to think of his family life a bit more. ‘He was great to manage and although he isn’t what you’d call a flair player, I always knew he would give 100% effort and  determination. ‘To be part of a team that wins a League title by twenty-five points at any level shows what a good player he is. ‘It’ll be strange when we do get back and he’s not around the dressing room, his bubbly character and sense of humour will definitely be missed, but of course I wish him well at Cray Valley PM where he will be a vital and experienced member of Kevin Watson’s squad’.    

Thanks for all you did Blanksy and very best wishes in the next stage of your career at Cray Valley and to the family.

 

Hopefully there will be other player news soon, which will of course appear on the website.