Truthfully, I thought I would feel more deflated than I actually am after supporting the losing team for 4 straight visits. I am a mature supporter, overly familiar with big match setback so that’s a factor. That the lengthy virus restrictions took away some of my passion is also true to a degree. I’ve been forced to amuse myself on a Saturday in other ways for so long, I now more appreciate the alternatives. I may not in future take in a game (or often two) every week. That’s also a factor.
The biggest factor of the day for me was the strangeness of the whole day. Being in London. My last visit was back in 2019, staggering bleary-eyed off a long-haul flight. Being actually at a game was strange, so too was the barrage of covid restrictions we endured. Don’t sit there, wear that better, don’t walk here, drink your water to prove it doesn’t have acid in it etc. Trying to recognise masked people that I hadn’t seen for 14 months. ‘My” team half full of performers I’d not previously seen or met.
Our safely spread-out and artificially numerically restricted support didn’t look or feel quite right. Shouting support through masks didn’t feel right. Strange, very strange.
As a supporter, I instinctively felt I hadn’t “earned” that Final. Earned is probably not the wrong word. ‘Suffered” or “endured” are probably closer descriptors. Bar a few who turned out for St Neots (who all deserved priority tickets for the Final and a tiny handful with Cheshire addresses who got into Nantwich, our squad had to manage without us all. No amount of screen screaming is any compensation, regardless of the undoubted quality of the service. That’s nobody’s fault, by the way. My words are not about pointing fingers. For me, there was an element of gate crashing, joining a New Years’ Day Party just minutes before midnight, having contributed nothing to the event.
We must not forget our positives amid our deflation. Our football sexy management duo are signed and secure-ish on a decent contract. Hopefully, our major players will follow soon.
And we got there. How the heck did we reach the Final with a rookie manager, no income and a covid restricted squad?
Most non-league supporters would swap.
Strange times but with much to enthuse about for next season.
Action image: Steve Niblett