How quickly it all changes

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.

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Thanks to so many

Rather than write a new post thanking so many people I thought I might post my article due to be in today’s match programme. So if you are not at the game or didn’t get a programme read on.

Programme notes for Carshalton game (ever so slightly updated)

A warm welcome to all for our final game of this memorable season, and a special welcome to all our successful juniors, both boys and girls who are with us today.

In many respects I can’t really believe how quickly this season has passed. So much has been packed into it, as always at Wealdstone, both on and off the pitch.

The good news is that coming into the 42nd game the season is still alive with hopes of getting into the play-offs resting on today’s results here, at Boreham Wood, at Kingstonian and at Aveley.

So the best memories may be yet to come, but whatever happens it will take something very special to beat the fortnight back in late October / early November that followed us winning at Aylesbury, beating Harrow and then culminating in what was such a great day against Rotherham. It took us 23 years to get to the First Round of the FA Cup, hopefully we can do it again next year. Other highlights include getting to a Cup Final (if not the penalty shoot out), and a Leeds United themed set of memories that include the pre-season friendly, the pride of Jermaine’s performances against Manchester United and Tottenham though also the disappointment of realising he was not going to be sold after all. I bet they wish they had done now!

As always, and in his testimonial year we need to salute our manager Gordon Bartlett with his excellent team behind him. Gordon puts so much time into the Club and yet his passion burns as brightly now as ever. In this packed last week of the season a bumper crowd celebrated Gordon’s testimonial on a great Wednesday evening – it was all so well deserved. I am delighted that Leo Morris will be celebrating his testimonial next season.

It has been a hard season in many respects, especially with the challenges of the weather and Fingers particularly has done an amazing amount of work, often with little recognition or reward. The pitch remains a big issue for us and one we will look to get right – though it will take time and money and patience.

Off the field there are so many people to thank as always – so I won’t even try and thank everybody – other than divide it into three groups.

First to my Board of Directors for all the time, effort and energy they give without much thanks – but in some respects with everyone’s thanks. We have so much going on at the Club and I really believe that with the right breaks anything is possible and much of that is due to the work of a few on the Board.

Secondly to everyone who helps, whether on match days or not, in the Social Club, the Supporter’s Club, the Stewards, the ball boys, those who help with the Board Room hospitality, the press, the programme, the tannoy, the photography, the gate, the Reserves, the Youth, the Juniors, the catering, the kit, the works in the ground and so on (apologies if I missed you out). So many people, giving up their time to help our Club. That is why so many others will always be jealous of what we have in abundance – passion, a desire to succeed and a love of the Club. Dare I say, more of the same next year please?

Finally, a huge thank you to all our supporters, young and old.  Thanks to everyone who contributed to 100:400, to all our Club sponsors, match sponsors, kit grid donors, match ball donors and so on. Thanks to all those who travel home and away, or even just to home games. You have been immense and of course, we need you all, as much as ever, starting in August when we do it all over again.

But you know, as much as we need volunteer labour down at the ground through the summer months, and we do, I urge you all to take the opportunity to spend some time with your loved ones and get some brownie points because the new season will be with us before you know it.

Have a great summer

Anticipation grows ahead of season finale

What a couple of weeks.

I’ve wanted to post on here all week but when to find the time? In the last fortnight we have played 6 games (7th today), had Gordon’s testimonial dinner and a board meeting. My car is on auto pilot to Ruislip at present.

So a brief note now and I’ll try and do more after the game today or tomorrow.

We all know what’s at stake today. Win against Carshalton, and one other result goes for us, and we are in the play-offs. Can we raise one more great effort?  I really think we are succeeding despite so much against us. The players are running on exhaust fumes, injuries are not surprisingly taking their toll (Callum, Ebay, Dean Smith, Jimmy are at least 4 who haven’t been available). It is simply strength of character and determination which is carrying us through.

One more effort today boys, and then one more on Tuesday (hopefully) and then one final one next Saturday?

I said to Gordon after the Horsham game that I felt 7 points would do it. It might not be enough, but if we do win then taking 10 points from the last 4 games will have been a phenomenal effort and a great reaction to losing to Aveley. And Matt McClure take a bow.

But let’s not get carried away just yet. I doubt Carshalton will come and lie down for us and they have already beaten us once this season.

Anyway, excitement growing and kick off just 3 hours away. Hoping for a big crowd with the sun out and the support likely to continue at the intensity it has been at the last few games. More of the same today please.

I’ll blog later or tomorrow. I hope it’s a happy one. See you for the big one soon.

Derby disappointment

It had to happen, we’ve had a great run against Harrow and sooner or later they were going to beat us. Just a shame it had to be today and in today’s circumstances.

Let’s be frank we should have had the game won before half time, Greg’s chance, Spendy and Kieron both getting in behind the defence and failing to find a Wealdstone player, Jimmy’s header off the line plus a series of other decent opportunities. And yet in the 4th minute of 1st half stoppage time they equalise and, as events were to prove, the game was changed.

We simply didn’t turn up second half. Mick Fishman next me said early on in the second half how Harrow looked so much sharper since the interval. No excuses, we simply didn’t or couldn’t respond. I struggle to think of many players who can hold their heads up and say they played well, with the honourable exception of the excellent Marvin McCoy.

To me football, when you boil it down, is very simple. If you take your chances you will probably win. We had enough chances to make the second half comfortable.

Someone said to me today that if we do not make the play-offs – and the chances of this have risen considerably after today – then the fact that not one of our strikers has got to 10 goals must be a major contributor. They may well be right.

I think it is up to the playing staff to pick themselves up now. This season could fizzle out quickly if we do not find the fight and resolution that we have shown at other times this season. We are good enough to bounce back but it will take a big mental effort. We can start to put it right on Wednesday against Margate, see you there.