True Blue: Ryman League takes shape, but where do Wingate & Finchley fit in?

Daniel Nielsen (left) enjoyed a successful spell as a Wingate player, and is now the club's head coa

Daniel Nielsen (left) enjoyed a successful spell as a Wingate player, and is now the club's head coach - Credit: Archant

Wingate blogger Simon Swingler takes a look at the make-up of an intriguing season in the Premier Division

Well we are already six games into the new season and the Ryman League Premier Division table is starting to take shape.

We currently find ourselves sitting in 16th, a placement I believe a majority of the people at the club would be more than satisfied with if we were to finish there.

When supporting a club like Wingate it is important to harbour some sort of realistic view of the club’s chances. We are, as a club essentially punching above our weight and to be demanding anything more than mid-table would be unrealistic in the extreme.

Last season our average attendance was the second-lowest in the division, this stat gives you an indication that we are basically attempting to compete in a division containing a large amount of clubs that have operating budgets that far exceed our own.

Don’t mistake the previous paragraph for moaning - or even jealously. Us Wingate fans understand and accept where we stand in the grand scheme of things which is why you won’t find us jumping up and down when we get stuffed at home by one of the league’s big boys. Just as I imagine you wouldn’t find the supporters of Levante screaming for the manager’s head when they are handed a good hiding at the Nou Camp. It’s the same situation just on a much smaller scale.

If you break down the 24 teams competing in the Ryman Premier League into three groups of eight, you will obtain a better picture of how this most of intriguing leagues operates.

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The first eight teams would contain the big boys with ambitions of achieving Conference football through either automatic promotion or the play offs.

The next group represents the average middle of the road teams, who generally contain more than enough quality to avoid being dragged into the relegation battle but can’t quite bridge the gap to go and dine at the top table.

The next group is where Wingate & Finchley realistically find themselves, teams who would be more than happy to consolidate their survival and live to fight another day.

This is why, despite the 4-0 drubbing on Saturday at the hands of early front-runners Kingstonian, the fans were not massively despondent and were able to look immediately to the Bank Holiday Monday fixture against local rivals Hendon, against whom realistically we had a much better chance of picking up some vital points.

And so it transpired, a creditable 1-1 draw was secured at Earlsmead against Hendon in a game that although sometimes lacking quality certainly wasn’t found wanting in the entertainment stakes.

So what is the consensus amongst the Wingate faithful regarding Danny Nielsen’s initial games at the helm? Well firstly we loved him as a player, he was ‘Mr Wingate’ and that in itself will always buy any manager a little extra leeway if the going gets tough.

I personally have been quietly satisfied with how the season has panned out so far. We started by winning convincingly 4-0 at home to Carshalton who are probably going to be one of those bottom eight teams that were mentioned earlier. This was followed up by a 3-1 defeat away to The Met Police in a game which we dominated yet somehow contrived to lose.

A decent battling performance and draw away at Wealdstone, before two home games against two early front-runners. In the first of these ties we played a good possession game but succumbed to Grays Athletic in the final five minutes and were then unfortunately thumped 4-0 by Kingstonian on an extremely sodden day at Summers Lane, where everyone associated with the club knew we had underperformed.

The rot was stopped to some extent away at Hendon on Bank Holiday Monday leaving us in 16th place (positions 21-24 get relegated) if we were to finish in our current position when it is all over in May I would be delighted.