I’ve been away this week in the US on business and came back this afternoon. One of the things waiting for me was last Sunday’s Non League paper. It is interesting to read it a few days on especially after the first round of play-off games have been played.
The photo of the Aveley players soaked in champagne seems somewhat redundant now given that by Monday evening their season had ended after being turned over by Boreham Wood. Similarly for Sutton, knowing for sometime that 2nd place was theirs wasn’t worth a candle as they lost at home to Kingstonian.
It was the same story in some of the other leagues. Hitchin and Totton both narrowly missed out in the title races in their respective leagues – both finishing with 100 points – ending miles clear of the third placed sides but both lost immediately in the play-offs to apparently inferior opposition.
Luton, Fleetwood, Chelmsford and Dover all lost to opposition who finished below them although in the Conference Leagues’ the play-offs are over two legs. So what to make of all this?
For me I was acutely aware that had we finished off successfully against Carshalton last week and edged out Kingstonian then to turn out 3 days later against Sutton was going to be a huge ask. Of course, as Kingstonian did we could have gone there and got a result but look at how many games Kingstonian played in the same fortnight as we played 6 games. I think they played 2 or 3 games at the most and freshness clearly counted for a lot. Don’t get me wrong I’d love us to have got there, if you don’t buy a ticket you can’t win the raffle but my point is you can see how a massive effort to get us there, and the celebration mixed with relief that would have immediately followed could have been abruptly snuffed out just 3 days later.
My view is the play-offs are not ‘fair’, how can they be if the 5th placed side ends up promoted but the clear 2nd placed side misses out but they are what they are, and the Clubs know what they are aiming for, especially when you have a run away Champion identified from an early stage. So you just have to get on with it.
What I particularly don’t like about the play-offs (not that it is a problem at Ryman level) is those Clubs who get to go to Wembley and win a trophy which just seems ridiculous to me. Particularly in the football league would you rather finish clear 2nd and get promoted (say like West Brom), or win promotion through the play-offs culminating in winning at Wembley in front of 50,000+ people. I know which one I’d choose.
Anyway, whatever personal thoughts are it’s only 16-17 weeks until we set out again with that as our aim. On Sunday we can take a look back at another progressive and successful year for the Club at the end of season presentation night. I look forward to seeing many of you there.