So near, yet so far

Andrew Warshaw reflects on a disappointing end to the season for Enfield Town FC

QE2 Stadium, home of Enfield Town FC
QE2 Stadium, home of Enfield Town FC

For a long time it promised much, only to end in abject disappointment.

Enfield Town’s season came to a hugely disheartening end last month as they failed to reach the Isthmian Premier Division play-offs after being in pole position for all but a few weeks of the campaign.

A year after the anguish of being beaten in the play-off semifinals, Town’s goal of at least getting that far again was blown away in the final stages of the season when they took only three points from a possible 18 to end up in ninth position.

An understandably downcast Andy Leese, who has since departed the club after managing Town for six years, said: “You can’t sugar-coat it, we haven’t been good enough from perhaps the early part of February.

“It’s sad because in the end it’s a difference of a few points. There’s a whole myriad of reasons why we’ve messed it up and it’s tough to take.”

As a supporter-owned club, Enfield don’t have the resources of some of the other clubs in the division – many of whom didn’t make the play-offs either. But apart from a few days in December, Town had been in the top five since the end of September, only to be pushed out of the play-off positions in early April.

“It’s a collective thing and I’m not just looking at the players,” Leese said of the sudden capitulation. “It has to start with me and the management team. I still maintain we have a squad that should be in the top five. I can only apologise to the supporters, because we put ourselves in a great position.

“Maybe last season we over-achieved a bit, I’m not sure, but we came off the standards that I set and it’s bitterly disappointing.”

No-one can fault the management and players for their commitment and enthusiasm but how many of the current squad will remain next season remains to be seen.

Every summer sees a turnover of players at most clubs, whatever their status, and there will be a considerable amount of stock-taking and planning in the weeks ahead.

Chairman Paul Reed said: “As a club we need to reflect on the last ten months and look to understand how and why we failed to perform in recent times and therefore what lessons we’ve learned and actions we need to take to give us the best possible chance of improving on our position next time.

“We have a lot to be proud of as a football club, we will do all we can this summer to make sure that we are well-placed to have the best possible campaign this season.”

On a positive note, the final game of the season against Aveley, a 2-1 defeat, was followed by the club’s annual awards ceremony. Goalkeeper Nathan McDonald picked up two prizes – supporters’ player of the year and players’ player for a series of outstanding saves made throughout the season.

Adam Cunnington won the management’s player of the season while Marcus Wyllie took the young player award. Striker Jake Cass took the golden boot award for his 18 league goals while Ian Hamilton won the club person of the year award, having been an invaluable volunteer in a variety of different roles.

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