We will be playing Ryman Premier football next season. Read it again. We will be playing Ryman Premier football next season. Looks good, doesn’t it? Finally, we will get mentioned on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday. Finally, we’ll be displayed on Sky Sports News and on their live scores service on the Internet. It seems right that we’re going to be playing in a division that more people have heard of. It’s now time we can justifiably get out the maps for next season. Where is Heybridge? What’s the parking like at Wealdstone? How far is it to walk to Leyton FC from Leyton tube station? Don’t worry, you’ve got until August to work these things out (though the answer to the Leyton question is 25 minutes. Trust me).
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the CCL and I enjoyed R1. But this is better. This was a league that could have been very hard to get out of. But there were really very very few games this season where we were the worse side. OK, Slough, Hendon and Thurrock were quite one-sided, but you would expect that with the squad we had at the time.
Next season will be far more difficult, at least I hope it is. We all know what Slough did to us, and everything I’ve said in the past on this subject still stands more than ever. But promotion to these sort of levels is what is going to keep AFCW alive. We’ll be playing teams who (sometimes) get 400 as opposed to 200. Looking at the map of the likely teams we’ll be playing, I think we’ll have to get used to Essex a bit more. So unless W&H and Horsham join us, don’t expect too many trips into the comfy surroundings of Surrey.
One other thing, I bet that there are already some very happy bean counters at Ryman Premier clubs…
The game? Oh, that. Well, Going Up 3 Going Nowhere 0 was a performance that typified this season. Good when it needed to be, unspectacular when it didn’t. The game was practically dead by 30 minutes. Steve Butler netted the first with a pretty nice strike. And yes, I know he scored the third goal against Banstead which I credited wrongly. Don’t worry about it, the NLP forgot to credit my Woking v Scarboro report last week.
Second goal? Well, it was #4 for them who damaged Woolner to the point that he got carried off. Up stepped Sonny Farr, the man who sounds like a member of some American folk band, to slot home the free kick.
Half time came and went, and so did most of the second half come to think of it. I don’t think we were going to go up another notch or two, though Leon MacDowell scoring thanks to some good work by Smeltz was the icing on the cake.
Finally, the whistle went and after a couple of minutes disappearing, the players did their now customary lap of honour. No champagne though, I think they nabbed a couple of Smirnoff Ices from the bar. Didn’t think you could drink alcohol in sight of the pitch?
Plus points: Oh come on.
Minus points: I won’t even mention Shane Smeltz’s urgent need of a goal. Woolner’s injury sucked though.
The referee’s a…..: Another good thing about promotion is that we should get a better standard of refereeing in the RP. Stop laughing. This one left his guide dog and braille dictionary at home, and was described as being an “absolute cartoon”. Quite. The most classic incident came when RB got a bit of a smack in the mouth, leaving him poleaxed. Despite this happening in full sight of the ref and linesman, nothing was done. At least RB had a little word with the linesman, namely one beginning with “f” and ending in “ucking”.
Them: Looked like Celtic, played like Queen Of The South. Quite crap, really. Their #4 was lucky to stay on the pitch, though we all know why (see above). Didn’t take that many, though there was a group of them in the JS stand. Walked past them and they appeared to have walked straight off the “Thirtysomething” set. Fuck, they were irritating. Meanwhile, kudos to their chairman, who’s followed Wimbledon for 26 years and sounded like the guy who did the continuity announcements on the BBC’s Home Service. Him and the club journo’s dad probably did the commentary for the Coronation.
Point to ponder (1): Here’s a strange one. Was it my increasingly shite hearing, or was the atmosphere today a bit muted? Even at 5 minutes to promotion, you could hear the players on the pitch. I know this season hasn’t been the most thrilling, but I think we’ll need to make the most of whipping all before us. Oh, and who else is slightly disappointed at a crowd of 3321? I would have hoped for 3.5k minimum. Those days of getting 4k+ against RP Vile seem long gone.
Truth is stranger than fiction: (1) Winning promotion for the second Easter Monday in a row. Do not be surprised to see no AFCW fixtures schedule for that day next season. (2) Realising that we’ve been top since the first day of the season. (3) Didn’t staying behind afterwards have a touch of the Selhurst days? Incidentally, in a quiet moment of reflection, just remember how it was three years ago and how far we’ve fallen. Or perhaps more accurately, risen.
Point to ponder (2): Of those who finished the game today, how many of them will be in the starting XI come the first game in the RP in August?
Anything else? Well, nobody ran onto the pitch, or streaked or anything. Interesting to see when JS was introduced, he got an almighty cheer. Presumably we’re recognising perhaps I think the only player still with us from those original trials on Wimbledon Common, all those years ago. Either that or we all know we’re saying goodbye to him playing again for us.
So, was it worth it? Might have been.
In a nutshell: Now, about this clinching the championship lark…