Not Being Relegated is Not to be Celebrated

It’s official now, Kingstonian will not get relegated. And do we deserve it? I think for once, the table does lie – in a normal season, scoring two wins since the end of 2018 means certain and thoroughly warranted relegation. Yet somehow we survive, thanks to having a decent run in the first half of the season. The run in 2019 has seen us thoroughly stomped on by the four clubs immediately below us, one of which (Harlow Town) are doomed, with the other three (Burgess Hill Town, Whitehawk and Wingate & Finchley) fighting desperately to avoid the last two places (though it looks very bleak indeed for the Hillians). Our run in 2019 has seen us get one win, and having seen us play at the weekend on two occasions I now wonder how the heck we beat Enfield Town, and one draw against a potential play-off club in Carshalton Athletic. I definitely don’t know how we got that point.

We officially escaped the drop on Saturday after a torturous 2-3 home defeat against AFC Hornchurch – five goals, but I’m sorry, this was a tedious match, a five goal match sounds exciting but it wasn’t. The visitors were the better side in the first half, but the first goal went to us thanks to a 45th minute penalty. We only had a couple of minutes to hang on to get to the break, but this was too long as Hornchurch zoomed up the other end and equalised. The second half started just as bad as it ended, and by the time we were just three minutes into the half, we were 3-1 down. Things got pseudo-exciting in the last minutes when we got one back, but we didn’t get what would have been an undeserved equaliser. Results elsewhere meant that we were destined for Premier Division football again next season.

Monday meant everything to Merstham and nothing to us, so naturally the Moatsiders did the job against the K’s with a very comfortable 2-0 win, with both goals coming in the first half. The second half saw both teams hit the bar, the home side with a nice free-kick, whilst our Mike Dixon managed to hit the bar from about a yard or two out. That was it. Once the first goal went in for Merstham, it was obvious who would win, the idea of the second half for the Moatsiders must have been to not get injured as they prepare for far bigger matches than training sessions against Kingstonian.

That game meant that I will finish the season not having seen Kingstonian win away from King George’s Field. The only away win I saw was actually at King George’s Field against Corinthian-Casuals, and the other one I could include is the win over Knaphill in the Surrey Senior Cup, but that was a draw after 90 minutes and we won the tie-breaker, so I don’t actually count either of those. Every other away win we had, I missed them all, so for that alone I will always look back on this season and swear profusely. We went into this season with high expectations, high demands even, whilst insisting that there was no way that we could have a season worse than 2017-18. And with some panache, we have managed to do precisely that.

There is one more game to come, against Leatherhead, who have had another decent season and challenged strongly for the play-offs, only dropping out of the hunt at the weekend. My expectations will not be terribly unique to me, in that I don’t believe we have a chance and that Leatherhead will win comfortably. I would normally say that if we score the first goal then we stand a chance of getting something, but we reacted to going a goal up against AFC Hornchurch in one of the most negative ways I’ve seen in many moons, so trying to put a positive spin on the game may simply be folly. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.

The K’s Supporters Club are laying on a buffet after the game on Saturday; I think I need some persuading to attend (if the food looks nice, you might need to look out…). These things are meant to be some kind of celebration, but if all there is to celebrate is “Thank **** that’s over” then apologies but I won’t be in the mood. One thing we should definitely not celebrate is escaping relegation, after all we are currently 22pts off our minimum target for the campaign, which was the play-offs, escaping a fate that on 2019 form we arguably deserved only because four other clubs kept losing as well (apart from when they played us) is not really something to open the champagne for.

I am already thinking about next season, even though I have no clue about the identities of our manager, our players, our opponents or much of anything, to be honest. There is the usual “are we going to the Southern League?” question, after all borders between leagues have to come somewhere, and if this season’s border meant that local clubs like Metropolitan Police and Walton Casuals moved to the Southern League then it’s awfully close and we always have to be open to the idea of moving there ourselves. The borders do change every year depending on the promotions and relegations, demotions and withdrawals, etc.; the latest guesses that I have seen will see us stay put, but you never know.

The main reason for thinking about next season already is that I will be taking over as programme editor once again – Taimour did tell me in the main bar at Hendon last season that I would do that, I was adamant that he was very wrong, once again that shows what I know – anyway, I will still have Taimour, Rupert, Bob, etc., helping me, I think that they have done a brilliant job (as did Jamie when he co-editor last season) since I stopped in late 2017.

Whilst it was my idea to return, the intention wasn’t there to do so until four weeks ago when, after a goodly number of phone calls and e-mails between a goodly number of people, discussions meant that the end product is that I have to start practicing my Microsoft Publisher skills once again. I hated myself, to be honest, when the decision was made, but I’m now used to the idea and I’m getting pleased to think that I will have the chance to feel a bit more useful again.

One thing that will definitely make it easier to do the programme as well as the website is actually the website itself, changing to Gary Ekins’ design has made it so much easier to keep it going and it has the added bonus of looking better as well. As for the programme, just don’t expect anything overly snazzy…I’ve never been able to do snazzy.

I am obviously unhappy at the way the season has gone, no-one at the club will be, but it’s good to have a final day of the season with nothing riding on it, hopefully it might lead to an exciting game, hopefully it allows our guys to bust a gut one more time, maybe we can get a result. I’m not convincing myself of the last bit but at the very least we need some pinch of positivity to finish the campaign, no matter how small. If you need me before Saturday, I’ll be at home every evening watching the snooker…

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