True Blue: A Wingate & Finchley fan’s view of the club’s heartbreaking relegation
PUBLISHED: 11:48 28 April 2014 | UPDATED: 12:06 28 April 2014
The Ham&High’s Wingate & Finchley blogger Simon Swingler looks back on a devastating day as the Blues beat Billericay Town 5-0 at home but were still relegated from the Ryman League Premier Division.
Despite giving ourselves a wonderful chance of avoiding the drop with two consecutive wins in our last two matches, Wingate & Finchley eventually succumbed to gravity and have been relegated to the eighth tier of English football, ending our three-year stay in the Ryman League Premier Division.
The mathematics going into the game were a little complicated but, basically, there were three ways we could possibly maintain our status.
a) Better the result of East Thurrock, who were at home against second-placed Bognor Regis Town.
b) Win and hope that Enfield lost - they were away at bottom side Cray Wanderers.
c) Because of the weird and wonderful way non-league football can work, we also could have conceivably stayed up if Worksop beat Frickley in the Northern Premier League.
The Blue Gods started the game like a train and in the 14th minute Ahmet Rifat opened the scoring when his shot was deflected by former Wingate man Ryan Scott, leaving the Billericay keeper helpless as the ball nestled in the net. The goal celebrations on and off the pitch were epic.
Three minutes later it was ‘grab a stranger’ time on the terraces again when a half- cleared ball fell to Leon Fisher at the edge of the box, and he duly toe-poked the ball home.
All three other results were going our way and the ground was buzzing with an above- average attendance of 228 people willing Wingate on.
I’ve had some previous experience of dealing with the footballing gods and knew that something wasn’t quite right. Everything was going too well, and so it transpired. Just before half-time, East Thurrock reduced their deficit against Bognor Regis to a single goal and we went in at half-time still sitting pretty but extremely nervous.
Three minutes after the break, Rifat was at it again as he headed past the keeper for our third goal following a Josh Kennet corner.
However, slowly and one by one, all our avenues of escape were closed as East Thurrock plundered another three goals against Bognor, Enfield drew level and then went ahead against Cray, and Frickley went 3-1 up against Worksop.
By the time Scotty Shulton had made it 4-0 in our game, the mood on the terraces was extremely subdued and the goal was barely met with more than a ripple of applause.
The icing on the cake from a wonderful performance saw Rifat complete his hat-trick when he finished well following a deflected shot from Nipper Read that fell into his path.
There was a touching moment at the final whistle when both supporters and players alike, obviously devastated, shared a moment of mutual respect before the players trudged off to the changing rooms and the supporters headed to the bar to drown their sorrows.
Finally, I would like to thank the Ham&High for allowing me to write this blog throughout this season and boost the profile of Wingate & Finchley Football Club in the local community.