First up, agree with the sentiments on Harrow. I'm well aware that there are a few supporters who will be pleased that Harrow have been relegated, but personally, especially given the way they helped us out for three years by allowing us to play home games at Earlsmead, I am sad to see them go down. As was said by many this time last year, we couldn't have hoped for better landlords, especially following our experiences at Vale Farm!
Within 80 minutes of the final whistle yesterday, Sharon and I were singing in a concert 40 miles away from SJP - we'd have loved to have stayed for the celebrations and awards, but had to shoot off on the whistle.
A few people asked me why I didn't volunteer to run the line (for those who don't know me, I used to referee youth football, and had stepped in as a linesman for a first team league cup tie at Claremont Road, and had run the line and on one occasion refereed in pre-season). There were a few reasons why I didn't. First and foremost - I'm not fit enough anymore! Second to that, I didn't want the responsibility of making an error that decided the outcome of the game, and thirdly, and quite rightly in my opinion, the referee felt that to have substitute linesmen wasn't a good idea given what was riding on the game. I think credit has to go to the two linesmen for being ready to start the game within 10-15 minutes of arriving.
Have to credit the players for the way they kept going when we went behind yesterday. Heads didn't drop, there was determination to do everything they could to ensure we stayed up. Obviously we had that advantage that by 5pm we knew what we needed to do (my niece was asking about every 30 seconds if they were still playing at Burgess Hill - how frustrating that they scored that 98th minute winner!) and I thought it was a great touch by Rob to get some of the youth to give the players a guard of honour as they came out for the second half. Not sure I've seen that at any level at the start of the second half!
And then the delight when Casey scored so soon after the restart, which was the perfect way to start the second half. After that, I never really felt we were going to lose, although I did get very nervy when Staines had that run of free kicks shortly before the end. But the utter relief when the final whistle went was something I've not experienced in a long time.
The form guide for the last ten games sees us 2nd on goal difference behind Enfield Town - and that's why we've stayed up. 22 points out of 30 is promotion/championship form.
Finally, what a superb turnout of support, helped by the turnout of youth team players and their families. So many supporters made a huge effort to be there, those from Scotland, Dorset, Norfolk, Shropshire as well as those of us living closer. And also really good to see Mike Cox and John Fordham were able to be there - two supporters who have missed much of the season through illness.
Let's hope that if there's any last day drama to be had in a year's time - it's at the other end of the table!
Time to enjoy the summer break!
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