After the trials and tribulations of “Annus Horribilis” it’s perhaps a measure of the relief around the area’s three main football clubs that the avoidance of failure prompted need for celebration.
While the 2012-13 season was certainly one to forget for fans of Aldershot Town, Farnborough and Fleet Town, 2013-14 provided a welcome period of transition – but only by the narrowest of margins.
Thrills, spills and a rollercoaster ride of emotions, this season simply had it all, but with all three clubs just about managing to keep their heads above the dreaded drop zone amid financial uncertainty, it will forever be known as the Season of Survival.
Of the three, Aldershot's plight was perhaps the most dramatic – starting their first season back in the Conference Premier on minus ten points and a threadbare squad, only to survive a second straight relegation on goal difference.
It was a lot more straight forward for Farnborough, despite Spencer Day’s men being forced to miss the first five games under Conference scrutiny and a player exodus, while Fleet Town needed a storming finish and a late reprieve to maintain their Step 4 status at the expense of rivals Guildford City.
So, as the month of May draws to a close and we finally catch our breath, we’ve compiled a review of the season in award form, sampling the best – and worst – of what was a memorable campaign.
No prizes, just kudos, for the winners – here they are:
Manager of the Year
Anthony Millerick led Cove on a monstrous 23-game unbeaten run to take the club from fourth bottom to fourth top in the CCL, while Fleet Town player/boss Craig Davis deserves recognition for pulling back a 10-point deficit in the final six weeks of the season to overhaul Guildford and secure survival in the Calor S&W. Take nothing away either from the job that Andy Scott did in piecing together a patched-up squad at the 11th hour to help steady the Aldershot ship.
Player of the Year
Sure, he can be frustrating at times but scoring 28 goals in a struggling team is no mean feat and Brett Williams deserves a great deal of credit for his part in Aldershot's survival. Crucial goals at crucial times, the former Reading and Woking striker led the Aldershot line expertly to finish as the league's third top scorer. He’ll be back at the ESS Stadium next year despite interest from MK Dons.
Goal of the Year
It wasn’t the prettiest you’ll ever see but Mark Molesley’s strike at Kingfield in the penultimate game of the season was certainly the most important. A trademark effort from the right flank six minutes from time deflected off the body of John Nutter and over the sprawling Sam Beasant to secure a 2-1 win and ensure another season in the Non-League top-flight. Brett Williams’ penalty deep into injury-time at Macclesfield proved vital also.
Falling attendances across the board, particularly at Farnborough. The wretched weather!
Arsenal and England star Kieran Gibbs going unrecognised and being refused entry into the Aldershot Town directors’ box to watch his twin brother Jaydon in action, forcing him to sit sheepishly in the North Stand among the regular punters. Thankfully for the Three Lions ace an Arsenal fan in the directors’ box noticed him and took pity, handing him a spare ticket.