This was the era of the rise of the internet. This was also the era of the rise of the Groundhopper. This means that there is plenty of material available on the internet displaying the status of the ground from the 1990s up to the present day. This also means easier research! Wherever possible I have provided links to other websites rather than recreating the detail of those websites here.
The Folkestone FC club folded in 1990 and, although a new club, Folkestone Town (1990) F.C. was formed, it also folded without even completing a full season.
Folkestone Invicta FC (who began life in 1936 in the East Kent Amateur League) took over use of the Cheriton Road ground in early 1991.
There were very few changes to the ground that the new occupant club needed to make:
One was new floodlights.
Another was that Folkestone Invicta's first shop was in the now named “Dugout” (the old Red & White club; Stripes Club), open on match days. It was a trial run before the new Supporters Club got going when the club moved into Dr Martens League in 1998. Nick Heighton was in charge of the shop at the time.
When Invicta moved to Cheriton Road the PA returned to its first home with Don Linkin and Dave Shackle setting it up . The first voice for Invicta was Dave Shackle . Mark Jenner and Audio Energy gave it a much needed update after a few years.
Then there was the turnstiles..........Around this time the old turnstiles at both the Stripes Club end, and the cricket ground end, were demolished by club stalwarts Clive Arnold & Phil Orris. New ones were built: Stripes club end paid for by the supporters club & built by John and Peter Hancock, Phil Orris, Nigel Patey, Herbie Tyler, Jon Law and many other helpers; the Cricket ground end ones were paid for & built by Shepway District Council.
As Patrik Pierce recounts: "The red brick Turnstiles on the main road by the bus stop were certainly used in the early 90s (up to about 93 I think) manned by Sid Burvill second in command Reg (can't remember his surname). After 93 I think they were only used infrequently on bigger games. Most games Reg and his successors took up residency in the tennis court attendants hut next to the gate next to the old PA box. Think the turnstiles were used for the West Ham game in 96. Can't say for sure if they were ever used after that. The side door of Stripes was used as a turnstile after that."
As Geoff Senior recounts: "As far as turnstiles are concerned, my somewhat hazy recollection is of two turnstiles in a red brick shelter on the main road by the Harvey bus stop. They led down a path by the tennis courts as far as the council hut and entrance to the Remland (Harvey end) end by the PA but. The path in those days did not continue to the Polo ground. They were demolished by the fixit crew led by Phil Orris. Nigel Patey lost his dad’s wrecking bar in the process and never forgave the process (not people). The new block followed shortly after beside Stripes. Again led by Phil with brothers John and Pete providing the chippy and brickie expertise with the rest of us labouring. The cast iron turnstiles arrived on a flat bed truck from somewhere oop north from a ground that had closed / modernised."
By 1998 some upgrades were required. This included rebuilding of the dugouts, and resurfacing of the pitch:-
In 1999 the turnstiles at the Cricket Ground end had a makeover: Erection of replacement turnstiles and provision of flat roof to form a link with adjacent toilet block, re-siting of existing portable buildings, 2 of which to be linked, disabled access and gates between clubhouse and pitch, re- siting of security gates and general refurbishments.
It was about this time that the toilets at the Cricket Ground end, built in 1925, were destroyed by fire. They had been derelict for many years.
2000 – Folkestone Invicta’s elevation to the Dr Martens Premier League (Southern League) led to some ground changes:
there was a new shop converted from the old portakabin next to the tea bar and close to the entrance and PA hut at the intersection of the Harvey end and the Grandad stand side. This was a big move: the first replica shirts sold to fans and the new shop had thousands of programmes donated by Alan Bird from Ashford FC . It was run by Clive Arnold and Paul Everitt. It was very successful and made a lot of money for the Supporters Club.
The supporters club ran the PA with Oli Johnson taking over the mike with the help of Lawrence Arnold they played some interesting music which always caused some discussion. Chris Harrison had a long stint standing in as well.
A year later & Stripes Club was fully refurbished.
Renamed Westbourne Stadium in 2003 following a sponsorship deal with a local cleaning firm. That year the PA location moved to the club shop to give a better view . Terry Hardie took on the role and added to the quality with some fun times . Guest voices have come and gone .
The Folkestone Invicta club switched from the Southern League to the Ryman (Isthmian) Premier League for the 2004-05 season, and there were changes to the ground set up: the Directors moved back to The Wilf Arnoury Suite and club shop took over the portakabin and turned it into the new enlarged shop which was run by Clive Arnold with helpers. Subsequently to that it became the Invicta Superstore with Geoff Senior in charge. The various incarnations of the clubs shops have been a meeting point for fans and helped the Supporters Club raise thousands of pounds.
It appears that new floodlights were introduced around this time. These renewed floodlights were paid for by fundraising by the Supporter's club . Herbie Tyler was the lead fundraiser . They used to be lowered to change the bulbs . The first record that I have of them is via the excellent Pyramid Passion website in 2004.
The floodlights used to come down for maintenance but sadly someone lost the tools to operate the mechanism.
In 2005-06 the ground was re-named the Buzzlines Stadium
In January 2006 there was possibly the first ever segregation of fans at the ground in its entire history when AFC Wimbledon FC visited. The away team were given the Cricket ground end and half of the Grandad stand. The decision had been taken after advice from the AFC Wimbledon safety officer and Kent Police as unfortunately there had been problems at a number of Wimbledon away games this season with the majority of incidents happening at grounds in Kent. This had been following crowd disturbances earlier in the season at Bromley, Ramsgate and Dartford. In many ways the ground was and still is very well set up for crowd segregation and home & away turnstiles. May be useful in the future – here’s hoping.
During this period of time there was general stability in the layout of the ground, possibly because all that was needed was already in place for the level of football being played: sufficient numbers of seats; sufficient turnstiles; sufficient changing rooms; sufficient food & drink outlets; etc. A time of stability reflected in these general photos of the ground……
Photo credit: Duncan Saunders
…….until February 2010 Folkestone Invicta FC went into a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement). Despite the doom and gloom, there seems a positive view of the ground in March 2010 from this Groundhopper http://footygrounds.blogspot.com/2011/10/folkestone-invicta-cheriton-road.html
About this time in 2010 there was discussion regarding an artificial (3G) surface at the ground. As Lynn Woods, the then club chairman recalls on the free-to-read club forum :-
Plans to redevelop the football ground were tied into the Three Hills development proposal as initially being hatched in collaboration with the Optimists and cricket and running clubs. We were initially invited into that consortium (in around 2010) but then abruptly excluded allegedly at the direction of Mr de Haan who allegedly opposed helping the football club allegedly because of historical concerns about the way his father was allegedly treated by the old club 30 or more years ago. The Bowls Club were also invited to join the party but declined. Tennis was part of the plan but there was no active organisation which could represent the sport. Netball came on the scene later as part of the development as a sport favoured by Mrs de Haan. If Bowls has agreed to relocation the idea was apparently to build a hotel in its place - pretty much as Sidney De Haan had proposed all those years ago without, for reasons unknown, being able to get FTFC backing.
The Invicta proposal was to redevelop the stadium to include an indoor football arena set between the Remland Stand and the Grammar School, and Kent FA were persuaded to back a community 3G as part of the Polo Ground development. It was also planned to redevelop the stands, Stripes, and parking and changing facilities.
Having been excluded from the Three Hills initiative the football club was left high & dry, but I felt the club should still support the development and I attended the Council Planning Committee session to state that support. I was amazed at that hearing to witness that the offer from the finance source was to commit £6m to Three Hills on condition that the Council approved £7m worth of housing development on Westbrook playing fields. No wonder Shepway has featured in Private Eye so often as a "rotten borough".
Work then continued to get support from Kent FA to meet the cost of a 3G which as we know was subsequently added to the Polo Ground development and ceded to three Hills to administer. That at least was a great boost to the youth sides who had hitherto gone months on end without being able to play through midwinter on waterlogged or frozen pitches.
Received wisdom was that a community 3G including under-base, drainage, netting and lighting would cost £500K of which the playing surface itself would account for half that sum. Amongst other things that £250K must be budgeted as a sinking fund to renew the surface after 10 years, so at least £25K annually should be set aside for that. A community 3G could support 10 hours of football daily at £50-90 an hour. A sensible revenue budget assuming 70% utilisation might therefore have amounted to c£200K annually. 3Gs need mechanical agitation, brushing and sweeping, but the costs associated with that ought to come to no more than the aggregate cost of grass pitch upkeep. Three Hills and/or the FA should be doing pretty well out of football. As the primary outlet for youth football development in the town, FIFC youth don't as far as I know make a penny out of it.
FA guidelines for a level 7/8 competitive 3G were at that time to limit non-competitive use to c50 hours a week and any anticipated revenue forecast should be moderated accordingly. But as with adding new lanes to congested motorways, my argument was that the facility would generate demand just by being there. One argument for instance was that a new form of otherwise withering-away Sunday League could be promoted, with all games played at the stadium - 2 games every evening and two on Saturday and Sunday mornings would support 14 teams playing once a week. And with the community 3G taking up any slack and serving all the 5 and 6 a side, schools fixtures, senior training and all else. It was another factor that Stripes would get a lot more trade.
It was only a provisional reckoning but I felt that after sinking fund and overheads the club could nett a £100K revenue stream by going 3G. It may not have happened at the time - Jim Pellatt and I were pre-occupied with managing the club out of CVA - but there's nothing to stop the idea being resurrected with entrepreneurial drive, thorough research, and the renewed interest of the FA based in serving the wider appeal of football now that the women's game has taken root.
The Cricket Ground end had stayed mostly unchanged for the last 90 years. However the trees behind dating from the same time were mostly cut down in the late 2010s, leaving only one tree standing. Here are the last few hanging on in 2013.
Photo credit: Duncan Saunders
In 2012 an Ambulance Community Response Post was built at the rear of the Cricket Ground terrace.
2013 the ground is named the Fullicks Stadium
Also in 2013, yet another positive review from a Groundhopper https://nonleaguefootball.club/folkestone-invicta-fc/
Next door the Three Hills Sports Complex opened in March 2013.
December 2013 and a storm rips off the roof of the main stand. Stands on this side of the ground appear to have been particularly unlucky over the years.
Taking a stand....roof off...
Photo credit: Folkestone Invicta Football Club
Subsequently the remainder of the roof was removed, as it was too dangerous or not cost effective to repair. A large number of the seats were moved over to the Grandad Stand on the other side of the pitch, and this main stand was converted to terracing. This was probably the one biggest change to the ground in the last 40 years, since the burning down of the previous old main stand.
This gave an altogether new look to the Grandad stand, possibly giving it a new lease of life. It was definitely spruced up. The amount of rust falling form the roof every time a wayward ball hit it seemed to massively decrease, and the ‘grandads’ now having somewhere to sit seemed to be less vociferous. The few remaining moans being about the pillars being in the way now that it’s not so easy to bob your head round one when sitting. Gentrification of modern football?
This left the main stand as an open terrace, as this photo form 2017 shows (note the camera box at the back of the terrace. This appeared ~2016 but was not too popular with some of the media team due to the sides of the box obscuring views of the ends of the ground.
In March 2014 the Folkestone Invicta club secured a lease on the ground for 5 years, after plating there for the previous decade with no lease.
Along with many other football grounds at this time, the ground was opening up to other uses, although clearly the Horse of the Year Show in the 1960, and the fair of the 1920s were both quite innovative. A typical examples being the regular Guy Fawkes night fireworks and in 2014 & 2015 the Religious festival “Big Event” by Folkestone Churches Together..
Picture credit: The Big Event
January 2015 Folkestone Invicta exit the CVA . A happy time, and another happy Groundhopper in 2015 http://worldgroundhop.blogspot.com/2015/09/folkestone-invicta.html . From his review, heres the place he couldn’t get a pie from, but definitely the place to get a celebratory pint from: Stripes club and tea bar in 2015.
December 2017 wheelchair cover built between Grandad stand & cricket ground end.
2017 the Folkestone Invicta club was running things on a very professional basis, and the club “brand” becoming apparent around the ground, with renaming of parts of the ground and other commercial spin offs. Stripes Club became Bar Invicta and again had another complete refurbishment, and even got its own website https://www.barinvicta.com/. The Tea bar became “The Seasider”.
Photo credit: Folkestone Invicta