Today we can reflect on yesterday’s final games of the Isthmian League season. There was change in the play-off places as we beat Hornchurch, demoting them to 4th and handing home advantage to Enfield Town – I think The Towners owe us a beer 😂 It was a good battling performance with defender Jake…

Hornchurch 1 vs Wingate & Finchley 2 (2021/22)

…scoring our winner early in the second half👍 But as I foretold yesterday, all eyes were on what was happening at the foot of the table. And, in the unusual circumstances of the reshaping of the leagues by the FA, everyone had to watch the key Salisbury vs Kings Langley game in the Southern League Premier South as well. Peter, our kitman, was keeping us up to date as best possible as we watched our own match and I made sporadic clattering sounds with the camera shutter😉

All of our 4 lowest teams knew they needed a win because if Kings Langley were able to overturn Salisbury… I’ll let that one hang🤣 Cray Wanderers took an unexpected lead against Bishops Stortford but ultimately would lose 3-1. Merstham and Carshalton are near neighbours so, although Carshalton had nothing to play for, it was expected to be a battle for bragging rights. Merstham lost 2-1. East Thurrock played well against us last Saturday and came back from 2 goals down for a deserved draw. If any team should have been able to beat the drop it was them, but they met Cray on Wednesday and were beaten 4-1. Playing at home against an erratic Horsham team, I thought they should be able to get a draw and even push on for a win. But, in the end, Horsham snatched an injury time winner and the game ended 3-2 to the visitors. Leatherhead had the easiest final game, at home to Potters Bar. Before the kick-off I predicted that Potters would capitulate and I was proved right with Leatherhead finishing 2-0 winners.

Over in the Southern League, what was happening with Kings Langley? They took a 1-0 lead on the 16th minute. Salisbury should have equalised with a penalty on the 77th minute when Kings Langley were reduced to 10 men – presumably for a bad challenge in the area? Kings Langley’s keeper saved! Then, having weathered the storm with 10 men, ‘Langley pinched a 2nd in the 91st minute. That was a 2-0 win and gave them 37 points.

The effect of Kings Langley’s win was devastating. Merstham and East Thurrock were already relegated as a result of their last day defeats. A quick note here about Merstham. When they came to visit us on the 18th for the penultimate game of the season, they were clearly a depleted side. They didn’t even have a Physio with them. So I guess they were already bowing to a sense of inevitability? East Thurrock paid the penalty for a poor performance at Cray though they came close to getting a win against Horsham that would have sent Cray down instead.

Leatherhead were the ultimate victims of Kings Langley’s success – Langley had a point more and better goal difference so the win against Potters Bar was a just a final gesture of defiance to close out the season. Relegated, they were immediately posting a ‘Schwarzenegger’ “We’ll be back” on Twitter😎

So, the season is done and dusted and it’s all over bar the shouting… Not necessarily so. Leatherhead might yet get a reprieve. The Leagues and the FA will now begin grading and shuffling. Clubs will look at whether they can really afford to go up to the next level and people who fund some clubs may decide to take their money away. All of these can result in teams not being where they were expected to be and other teams having their relegation quashed. At the end of the 2013/14 season Wingate & Finchley were relegated from the Isthmian Premier. Rumours were already going round though that we would probably get a reprieve. The reason – Worksop Town had lost their main means of finance and took the decision to withdraw from the Conference North. It cascaded down to us being restored to the Isthmian Premier. So, it’s not impossible that Leatherhead may also be back a little sooner than they currently expect… We shall see…

Last Monday, after our match vs Merstham, we had the Annual Awards night. The Supporters Player of the Season and the Players Player of the Season coincided. It was left to Gavin, our Goalkeeping Coach and a previous recipient of both, to present the players trophy to Ben Goode – our current Goalkeeper…

Wingate & Finchley Awards Night (2021/22)

…and here’s Ben showing what he does best – a great save against Hornchurch on Saturday to close out his season…

Hornchurch 1 vs Wingate & Finchley 2 (2021/22)

I’ve had a little bit of a break since my last post. That means I’ve been busy doing a lot of non-blogging things. Clearing the garden, trying out new computer games, playing updates to existing computer games and photographing my football team. Today, for example, I completed a challenge in American Truck Simulator and processed the images from last night’s football match prior to publishing them. I think I’m now ready to get back to posting on my blog and I have a lot of gaming things to write about. But, for Clare’s ‘Share Your Desktop’ this month, I have a Wingate & Finchley football photo and a story to tell…

…This shot was taken at Leatherhead on August 21st. We had just beaten the home side 2-1. In the photo Tee-Jay and Marc Weatherstone, our new manager, salute the fans in celebration. Tee-Jay is, I’m pretty certain, our longest serving current player though he was only on the pitch for the final few minutes as he has an ongoing injury. Marc was a player with the club from 2008 until he was poached by Dulwich Hamlet in 2016. He has over 400 appearances for Wingate & Finchley, so it was great to welcome him back as manager 🙂 The start to the season has been a bit up and down. Many of the players are young, though there have been some experienced players signed like keeper Ben Goode, on the left.

So why have I got this shot on my desktop? Leatherhead are one of our bogey teams – we usually lose against them at their place and it’s roughly honours-even when they visit us. So for Marc to engineer a win down there was quite a feat for a new manager and the team! I said to Marc on the coach as we travelled home – “You know, you’ve slayed one of our dragons”. It was a moment I’ve been savouring since. The rocky start continues for the team, a draw and 2 defeats but then, last night we beat the league leaders, Kingstonian, 3-1 🙂 It looks like it’s going to be an interesting season!

It’s good to be doing Brian’s Last on the Card challenge so close to the start of the new month for a change! 🙂

First up, from the Canon EOS 5D, the last shot from Wingate & Finchley’s away win at Leatherhead…

…That was taken on the 21st. I would normally have been at our home game on the 30th but was at a family gathering instead.

From the Fujifilm X-Pro2, one of our local buses grinds its way up Long Lane towards Finchley Central…

…There is potential for a good shot here if I catch the bus further down the hill so that the line of terraced houses on the right is more a part of the composition. Exposure will always be an issue as it will be a contre-jour shot all day. I’ll be hoping to revisit this one in future 🙂

Both shots as captured, just a resize for the web.