Well its high summer now, Wimbledon finishing up (like I care) and the World Cup is reaching an exciting climax with the football improved no end by the departure of Fabio and his dysfunctional shower. The Poly season seems a lot longer gone than the actual 56 days it has been since we finished up with the last of the late season’s trademark collapses from promising starts, and rolled home from the last of the many lengthy and boozy post mortems.
So how does it look from here? What (if anything) did we achieve? What should we remember? And where – as George Best was famously, if perhaps apocryphally, asked – did it all go wrong?
Well no problem with achievements (though sadly no silver ones with handles). Amongst the most important things a football club like the Poly needs to do is to bring in fresh blood. Three new players made huge contributions. Rob Holmes Reed turbo-charged the first half of our season with his outstanding pace, touch, vision and unselfish style. Chris Moran brought fitness, tireless running and some cool finishing to win the best supporting player award of the autumn for his role alongside Rob. And later on we picked up Tom Holmes, a committed and versatile performer with a goalscoring knack who made an excellent contribution to keeping things going even as we began to struggle later on in the season.
It wasn’t only new faces, the campaign also brought a welcome return to the Poly colours for wing wizard Mo Chicharro and midfield enforcer Tom Glavey, both lads shaking off the dust to put in some quality performances as the season progressed.
And last but not least, the regulars stuck to their tasks. Giggsy and Andy put in solid shifts as we all knew they would. Danny and Grim Reaper Tom gave us some awesome displays of what they can do when their enigmatic talents are in full flourish. Most pleasingly of all, three lads in particular showed real improvement. Craig adopted the left back slot vacated by Carl Phillips and won a host of admirers with his disciplined displays and classy distribution. Alongside him in the middle, Petr Holecek grew immensely in stature, blending continental ball playing with the robust attributes of the British centre-half. And in goal Dan Buckland proved his doubters wrong – developing his all round goalkeeping nous to complement his proven shot stopping capabilities. Last and definitely least, I got to come on and touch the ball three times in injury time at Lloyds – a modest accomplishment but after struggling to walk for most of the season you can perhaps imagine just how sweet it felt. When I grow up I want to be a real footballer.
So much for the people though, what about the performances? Well the league table doesn’t lie, we finished up towards the wrong end of it, thanks to too many languid performances, particularly in the last quarter of the season when we really seemed to lack belief and didn’t perform against sides we would have fancied ourselves to have beaten earlier in the campaign. But equally the table wasn’t lying when it showed us in a much more promising position for much of the year.
The best games? There are a few candidates. For me the most important performance of the season was probably the cup-tie at Lloyds. Although we eventually lost after extra time and penalties, the intensity of the contest and the drama really helped the side bond together and looking back it is no surprise to see that when then followed this up with our best run of results of the season, with three straight competitive wins. After that, two games when we simply put quality opposition to the sword with top class performances, winning 6-0 Weirside in December and 4-0 at home to HSBC in January. And finally, the double-header on the rugby pitch with Civil Service, where we snatched an equaliser at the death of the first leg (with Grim Reaper Tom notching our 3 goals) and then Danny destroying them with a hat-trick in five minutes in the second game – he only got four league goals in total all season!
The lows? There were a few of them alright. Defeat to EBOG was one that was hard to take, with 3 players failing to show and a pretty lightweight oppo edging us out as we descended into recriminations. The four games in April were pretty dismal, as nothing – even the influx of talent from higher sides – seemed capable of hauling us out of the slough of despond into which we had fallen. Mostly though we just shrugged our shoulders, downed a few pints and got on with it – doggedly refusing to let a rotten result spoil our enjoyment of the football.
And so what next?
Well frankly, enjoy the summer, enjoy the weather, enjoy the free Saturdays. There will be plenty of time for football. What will next season be like? Will there be changes? Who knows at this point in time, every season is a journey, every year brings its changes and these things rarely settle down until autumn is well under way. But if we all commit to ourselves that we will give our best to the football this year, in terms of fitness, availability, support for team mates and upholding the values of the club and the amateur football scene as a whole, then it will go a long way to ensuring that we all get a lot back out from it.
Come on the Poly!
Links : Alan’s Poly 9s Photostream