Well, to say that the world has changed is a dreadful understatement. Quite when it will get back to what passes for normal is anyone’s guess. If anyone gives a timeframe, it is precisely that, a guess. No-one knows, and it’s very, very unsettling.
I have been working from home now for nearly three weeks. I think it’s three weeks, to be truthful I’m already at the stage where days run into days and sometimes I don’t know where we’re at. With there being no live sport at the moment, there’s not a lot to set my mental calendar to. There’s no Kingstonian or Liverpool games to count down to, no motor racing, no motor cycling, no rugby, no golf, no cricket, no baseball, etc., etc., nothing.
So, at the moment, I’m watching a programme about baked beans, which will be followed by a programme that I’m actually a fan of which is about forging knives and swords out of bits of car or golf clubs, finishing off with two absolute bananas getting themselves deliberately stung by bees, wasps and some other animals that they successfully piss off sufficiently for the animal to bite the crap out of them and we find out if it hurts. Spoiler: it hurts.
Kingstonian’s season coming to an end was a mixed blessing. In one sense, I was running out of energy but I was still ultimately enjoying watching my football. We were drawing too often, we were struggling to score goals, but the effort and honesty of all the players was still refreshing.
Actually, has the season come to an end? As I’m writing this, the FA was supposed to be having some kind of Council meeting which would effectively render the 2019-20 season null and void for all leagues at our level and lower, though I may have got the date wrong. As can be expected, and thoroughly understood, several clubs have complained about this sudden end to the season. Most of these clubs I believe were in or close to promotion places, so of course they would want the season to continue somehow. I understand that completely, and I am still undecided about whether this has been the right thing to do. After all, we’re bathing in mid-table obscurity, which is nosebleed territory for Kingstonian in recent seasons, we were almost certain not to make the play-offs, we were even more almost certain not to emulate last season’s plummet towards the relegation zone. Not many clubs will have been in a position like ours.
I do think that whatever the FA decides, they are going to be wrong in someone’s eyes. The current decision, a nullification of the season, which is still to be ratified, is going to deny several clubs a promotion that they deserve. If the FA decide that the season cannot continue and the tables as they stand will be the final ones (as has just happened in Belgium), then clubs are going to be unjustly relegated without having the chance to play themselves out of trouble. To wait until the pandemic is over and complete the season later is going to cause just as many issues with cash flow and paying or not paying of players as any other option.
I don’t like the idea of having one rule at this level of the pyramid, whilst the Premier League, Football League and National League still give themselves the right to wait it out for as long as possible. It should the same everywhere, though this naturally causes the grey area in my heart as I desperately don’t want the Premier League to nullify the season as I’ve waited so darn long for Liverpool to become English champions again. With my Kingstonian hat on, voiding the season brings almost brings about a shoulder shrug, but with my Liverpool hat on, I want the Premier League to come up with a different method (preferably find a way of playing all the games) so that we can be declared the winners.
I would have favoured finding a way of finishing everyone’s season, get it done by the end of December if needed (and if able), then shorten the 2021 season in whatever method possible (eg: our season could be made up of just 21 league games and the cups would all be suspended) so we can get back to normal calendars for the 2021-22 season, though I don’t see anyone going for that, for me it’s too sensible.
So, a quick review of Kingstonian’s season? OK, I’ll have a go.
Firstly, if the FA Council does ratify the decision to void the season and expunge all the results, well, I’m not expunging the appearance and goals statistics of our guys. That means that Rob Tolfrey doesn’t go below 500 appearances and can still break the all time record next season whenever that starts.
For the first time in ages, we can look back on a season, albeit a shortened one, that had far more positives than negatives. The FA Cup run was wonderful, the FA Trophy run was outstanding, at times in the league we were magnificent, unfortunately the other two cups didn’t go so well. If I had one major criticism, then there were times when we found it difficult to get up for so-called run-of-the-mill league games and found it hard to get going in comparison to the big cup matches. It’s a natural reaction, though, and let’s face it, I’m not going to swap those cup memories for anything.
Last season, things were so crazy that the Supporters Club decided not to have a Player of the Year award. I would have struggled to vote for anyone anyway. This season, there will I believe be a Player of the Year vote coming up, but again I will not be voting. I just can’t. There’s no way, assuming the vote asks people to choose their top three, that I can choose only three. And then there’s no way that I can put them into a 1-2-3 order. So, my unofficial vote for Player of the Year seriously goes to “The Whole Bloody Lot of Them”.
My favourite games list would probably be very similar to a lot of other people’s – Dartford wins the award for one of the most stressful days in football that I’ve ever had, especially that second half which was 12 on the stress scale that goes up to 10; AFC Fylde at home was immensely stressful for other reasons, that stress disappeared when the game actually started but I’m proud of the job that I did and the job that all of us at K’s did; Macclesfield Town away was the one game that justified why I’ve been in non-league football for as long as I have, for years the FA Cup was for other people, now it’s for me as well; Woking at home was a magnificent performance against a fine team managed by a fine manager, a result I never saw coming (watching the interview with Hayden after the game still makes me smile, and I’m grateful for Taimour noticing that I was celebrating in the press box with Kingstonian Ted, it encapsulated precisely how I felt that day).
My favourite league games would have been the home win against Carshalton Athletic, we were outstanding against a superb team and we showed what we can do against quality opposition; and then there was the away win at Brightlingsea Regent, perhaps not the most wonderful game of all time, but conditions were so very difficult, at the end of the game it was raining so hard that it was impossible to see the far side of the pitch and the rain was falling as close to horizontally as possible, to win 2-0 with such a massive effort at the league venue furthest away from home this season was so gratifying.
And goal of the season for me is an easy one – mentions of Reece Hall’s goal against Carshalton, Louie Theophanous’ blast in the same game at Colston Avenue and Gus Sow’s team epic at Leatherhead have been made, but none of them make my top three. Third place goes to Sean Clohessy’s strike against Bishop’s Stortford on New Year’s Day, a magnificent hit from a silly angle that ultimately won the game. Second place for me was Dan Bennett’s audacious free kick against Woking that sealed the 3-1 win, blasting the ball around the wall and beating the keeper at the near post. But my favourite goal is Dan Hector’s goal that opened the scoring against Macclesfield Town. It gave us the brilliant early start that we craved, and started with a wonderful long range pass from Rob Tolfrey to Hector on the left wing, and he arrowed towards goal and finished beautifully. It may have been a bit route one, but route one can be beautiful sometimes and on this occasion it was bloody gorgeous.
Oh well, off to get some choccy biccies and watch those two guys get bitten by thoroughly pissed off animals…