I’ve wanted to write this piece for a while now. It was going to be how the club I watch most these days either ended up winning the league that they were leading for a majority of the season, or how they were dramatically pipped at the post.
The season finished on Saturday 29th April, but the reason I haven’t written this before is not because I’ve been carefully honing this feature to ensure it is a thing of journalistic beauty (I think you’re probably well aware of that anyway). It is because over three weeks after the final games of the season no-one yet knows who will end up crowned as champions.
I’ve been taking my six year old along to see Shoreham for a couple of years now and this season – under new management – the Musselmen outplayed the majority of the clubs in the Southern Combination Football League Premier Division, sitting pretty at the top of the league for long periods of the campaign.
But, in a fashion that Spurs fans will be all too familiar with, performances dropped in the final weeks where they only won three out of the last six games. Considering they had only lost three games the entire season before then shows what a fall from grace this was.
One of those defeats came at the hands of Haywards Heath Town, Shoreham’s main rival for the title, with just five games remaining. Unfortunately Shoreham’s lack of form coincided with Haywards Heath upturn in fortune and Town ultimately won the league by four points, beating Horsham YMCA 7-1 away from home on the last day of the season to really ram home the point.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. First there was a rumour that a couple of the Haywards Heath side were actually ineligible under league rules to play for the club. When this was disproved it looked like Shoreham would indeed be playing at the same level (nine steps below the Premier League) for at least another season.
But then it turned out that another player was still under a ban from another county league when he played for Haywards Heath. The club have now been charged and are currently appealing that decision that could rob them of the title and promotion to the Ryman South division. If they are still found guilty of the charge there will be a points deduction that could hand Shoreham the title.
The SCFL are currently reviewing the appeal so no-one knows who has actually won the league – and the clubs don’t know whether to start preparing for another season at county league level or the more demanding Ryman South.
As much as I would love to see Shoreham promoted and look forward to the higher level of football on offer next season, the main concern right now is how long this decision is in coming. And for anyone used to the machinations of non-league football this uncertainty is unfortunately all too familiar.