Play-off perspectives

The blog is back. Over the next few days I will aim to post a few articles up while the time allows.

Given all the excitement of the play-offs tonight I thought that was a good place to start.

There are many views about the play-offs, both for and against. For me I can see the attraction, they keep the season open for many clubs for several weeks leading up to the season. We’ve experienced that first hand more particularly last season. And this year the race for the play-offs was undeniably very exciting going to the last day for up to 6 clubs.

So I get all that.

But.

What I don’t like is the clinical nature with which non league play-offs are run. Take Slough Town in the Zamaretto League. Guaranteed the play-offs in their penultimate game with the season finishing on Bank Holiday Monday last week. The play-off semi final at Hitchin took place three days later and they were beaten 4-1. And like that their season was over. Before we had even played our last game.

Take Bury Town. They somewhat fortuitously beat us 1-0 on Saturday to claim 3rd place and a home game against local rivals Lowestoft who they had beaten away just a week later. Yet 72 hours later on the Tuesday evening they lose in front of a big crowd and that’s it.

And of course take Harrow. What a season for Harrow Borough this year, goals, consistency, FA Cup 1st round and despite only 2 draws in the last 2 games, and Kingstonian’s collapse at Margate, they were in the play-offs. But, again despite a great comeback from 2-0 down they lost in extra time to the odd goal in 5 and will be back in the Ryman League next year, their hopes snuffed out. Gallant losers maybe, but losers none the less.

I understand the argument that for clubs at our level you need to play these games quickly to avoid an extra week’s wages, hence only one leg and quickly to the play-off final. But it strikes me that the euphoria you feel getting to the play-offs is worth nothing when you get beaten so quickly thereafter. For as well as Harrow have done it counts for nothing now and let’s face it no one really remembers who got to the play-off semis.

And it gets worse, especially if you are involved with Bognor Regis Town FC (though the same could be said for many clubs in the past). Having faltered on the last day of the season when they could have won the Ryman South, Bognor had to play Dulwich in their play-off semi three days later. They had finished 31 points ahead of Dulwich in the league (yes thirty one – as the old vidiprinter would say) but managed to lose tonight. Whether the disappointment of Saturday contributed who knows but how can this be right or fair. A great seasons work undone in the most painful fashion.

On balance I am changing my opinion about play-offs. I’m beginning to think that coming second should entitle you to go up, or at least go directly into the play-off final. I know I’d be mightily pissed off if I was the Bognor chairman tonight.

Will try and post more tomorrow.

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