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