No words can adequately describe the incredible achievement witnessed today in very difficult circumstances. Simply, this must, and will remain in Hendon Football Club's history as one of the greatest days ever.
First season following the Greens and it feels damn good that it ends this way. I was following the live table like everyone else around me and was incredulous when a bloke behind made shouted Burgess have scored. We were all waiting for the fi all whistle there and getting ready to go ape toasting our survival.
I was incredulous really. My phone didn't yet show the BH goal but it flicked up sooner or later and had us 4th from bottom. I literally couldn't believe my eyes. We needed a point. Bloody hell I thought, we've got 45 min to save the season!
I could tell the tension was palpable in the stands and behind the goal and plenty must've feared the worst. But what a start to the second half. Casey leaps like a Salmon and hurls himself at that floated cross and sends the green army into raptures. It was fully deserved on the first half chances. The relief was massive but of course the second half was still a baby.
We huffed and puffed for another and there was a bit of handbags which the ref handled very well. Staines, to their credit, played very well and fought hard for a winner. Had a stinging free kick straight into Tom's midriff and a few other sniffs around the box before the ref saw sense and brought an end to proceedings gone 6.
The relief amongst Hendon faces was there for all to see as I had to make a quick dash for central London. The team had done it. Incredible. Nice one lads. This may be a fairweather thing to say but I don't know how closely I would've followed the Greens next season had we been relegated.
What a season it's been. It all boiled down to 45 minutes in the end. God knows how many players were used but the final squad assembled by the gaffer is one to be proud of and hopefully he says..won't be in the same damn whole in a year's time! Have a great summer friends!
57 players were registered this season, of whom 52 played. Of the remaining five, three were goalkeepers signed 'in case', and just one of the five made it as far as the subs bench, and that only once as an unused sub.
A few pics from yesterday. Oh and I just wanted to say I am sorry for Harrow going down. They maybe local rivals but they didn't deserve this. There were far worse teams than them in this league.
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!
I don't think we want anymore days like yesterday. Couldn't help thinking yesterday of that other nerve wracking game all those years ago at Slough when we were in relegation trouble and had to win. We won 4-1 then.
I agree with Steve in that I can't see the need to disparage Harrow. It could so easily have been us. Unsurprisingly, the Wealdstone forum is gloating at Harrow's demise. Harrow have been decent to us and if it comes to a choice between a local derby and a trip into the Essex wilderness, I know which one I would choose.
I was buzzing all morning (and during the week) and drove calmly to the game. Speaking to fellow fans the mood was calm and optimistic. There was a good crowd. I haven't seen what the official figure was. The sun was shining. It all felt good.
The delay could not be helped. We made light of it but the nerves were kicking in. By kick off the tension was palpable. We knew how the games around us were going. We went one nil down but kept battling. Other scores were changing and approaching our half time we looked safe. Then Burgess Hill banged in a goal. We were 4th from bottom. The tension ramped up.
As we changed ends I could not stand still. I was pacing up and down. Then that wonderful Hendon player Casey caused me to jump up and down screaming like a little girl. We were level. Some lads in the stand behind us kept singing. For the rest of the game Hendon gave their all. The final whistle allowed a community to unclench and a huge sigh of relief.
What an afternoon. Seeing old friends. Making new ones. Our beloved Hendon fighting tooth and nail. Hendon staying up. Adrenaline coursing through me. The excitement. The pain. The anguish. I would not have it any other way.
P.S. Would like to say am very sorry to see Harrow relegated. They helped us when we needed it. Sincerely hope they get back where they belong next season.
See you all next season.