FOOTBALL: Almost a year after it started, the 2019/20 National League came to an end last weekend, writes Mark Hearle.
The three play-off finals resulted in Weymouth and Altrincham being promoted to join King’s Lynn Town as new-boys in the National League, with Notts County staying where they were, thus confirming the league’s line-up for the big kick-off in October.
From a purely selfish point of view I would have preferred different results in the North and South finals – mostly, I hasten to add, in terms of travel.
Dartford isn’t a bad trip from West Norfolk, but I’m sure the journey we now face to the south coast will result in an overnight stay, adding to Yeovil and Torquay.
It’s a similar situation in regards to Boston United, who also missed out at the final hurdle. Last season’s festive encounters were more than memorable (probably because we picked up six points!) and the closeness of the Pilgrims did ensure that, even at Step 2, we had some healthy local rivalry.
Weymouth have mirrored our achievements by gaining two promotions in two seasons and I’m looking forward to visiting a real traditional football stadium there.
We only played Altrincham once last season as our trip to Manchester was due to take place a week after the league was suspended. They did things the hard way with three away games in as many weeks to collect wins at Chester and York before beating Boston. I reckon they more than deserved it!
The National League play-off final at Wembley on Sunday saw Harrogate Town earn a place in the Football League for the first time in their 106-year history with a 3-1 win over Notts County.
It was a victory that contained Lynn connections. They are managed by former Linnet Simon Weaver, who was a very good centre back while at The Walks. Another former player, George Thomson, grabbed the opening goal early in the game and then created the second.
I’m pleased for them both, especially George, who gave great service to the club, even though he was here only 18 months before moving up the football ladder.
Harrogate will begin their Football League lives by playing their home games at Doncaster Rovers ground as their 3G pitch is being taken up and replaced by grass – a stipulation if you reach League level.
That win means a trip to Meadow Lane for the Linnets – that takes some believing! Just nine years ago, County missed out on the play-offs for a place in the Championship on goal difference, while the Linnets were in the United Counties League – six steps apart!
The club continues to work hard behind the scenes as the build-up to the season begins to gain a little more momentum.
We should be in a position to announce two major sponsorship deals to supporters in the coming days as we have now been able to confirm them with the relevant parties and tie up the loose ends.
Another announcement about an incoming player is also getting a little closer.
We continue to speak with various parties on other deals as well but these negotiations do take time and the circumstances we find ourselves in at present can mean they take a little longer.
In regard to the formulation of the league and general protocols surrounding football and spectators, discussions continue to take place between the league, its clubs and the government on a regular basis.
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