NEXT SEA­SON? I AL­READY CAN’T WAIT FOR IT!

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

THE fi­nal day of the football sea­son cre­ates the most in­cred­i­ble highs and the most in­cred­i­ble lows.

I re­mem­ber stand­ing on the pitch hav­ing won 2-0 against Leigh RMI at home in 2005, while we waited for seven min­utes of added time to be played be­tween Tam­worth and More­cambe in the Con­fer­ence. The 0-0 saw us into the play-offs but a More­cambe goal would have left us be­hind.

More­cambe hit theTam­worth bar; but the fi­nal whis­tle saw us home and the ground erupted. A year later, we lost on the fi­nal day, away from home to miss out on the play-offs. The groan was loud enough to bring my first Steve­nage reign to an end.

In 2009, we lost on the fi­nal day away at Mans­field but squeezed into the play­offs af­ter a 24 game un­beaten run.The joy of qual­i­fi­ca­tion and the pain of de­feat was a bizarre con­tra­dic­tion. So I can say I have per­son­ally felt the full suite of fi­nal day emo­tions.

Go­ing into the week­end, there were some in­trigu­ing last day is­sues be­ing fought for. At the bot­tom of League Two seven clubs were scrap­ping for sur­vival. Ev­ery­body knows what a long way back it is from the Con­fer­ence. And most of the seven had been there be­fore.

This morn­ing we will be read­ing about heroes and vil­lains. Per­haps a cross­bar will ap­pear to have been the dif­fer­ence. Or, a ref’s de­ci­sion?

The re­al­ity is that it never comes down to that fi­nal mo­ment. It is al­ways the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of a sea­son’s work that reaps the re­wards or leads to disas­ter. Thou­sands of small mo­ments add up to the out­come.

But what­ever hap­pens to clubs as the big is­sues are de­cided, Au­gust will bring new hope to them all. An­tic­i­pa­tion will re­place the joy and the pain of April and May. A new be­gin­ning will be there for ev­ery­body. The chance to build a sub­stan­tially bet­ter to­mor­row will resur­face.

For many of us, that re­al­ity hit some time ago.We get the bonus of some ex­tra plan­ning time; a real ad­van­tage in re­la­tion to the new sea­son. I am look­ing for­ward to it al­ready.

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