When forecasts before the start of last season were bandied about it was widely believed that we would be lucky to finish in mid-table. Instead a better than expected season saw us playing at Coventry City in the FA Cup and then narrowly missing out on the play-offs by just one point.
After five years of watching a team in decline it was a relief to see some light around the corner with a team that finally looked the business with some excellent players. A team that could be built on to achieve even more next season and possibly gain promotion back into the Football League.
Instead we're left with the tatters of the mistakes made by a board that are out of touch with ambition and more interested in not having to dig into their own pockets or in encouraging any real investment in the club.
Today the majority of that blossoming talent walked out on the club because the board wanted to cut their salaries by up to a rumoured 50%. An insult to those very same players that did so well for us and took us so near.
The signs were there on Friday when the successful management duo of Mark Yates and Neil Howarth were given a pathetic one year extension to their contracts. That showed that the board were hoping that a manager less club would be interested in employing them and that the board would get some kind of compensation package.
What kind of signal does that give a player when they see the team that nurtured their talents get such short shrift from the club. Why should they then sign contracts themselves knowing full well that the first club, in search of a new manager, that come knocking on Barry's door will have the red carpet rolled out and a fat cigar thrust into their hands.
So today we said a possible goodbye to the first eight to leave with almost certainly two more following. Equal leading scorer Justin Richards, ever reliable right back Keith Lowe, wizard on the wing Martin Brittain, the cat between the sticks Adam Bartlett and long awaited midfield maestro Chris McPhee were told that there was not enough in the financial pot to offer them a better contract and the same applied to lesser players like Michael Carr, Craig Armstrong and Luke Jones (right) being given nothing extra for their efforts.
These players now have until June 1st to find new clubs or to accept the terms offered and stay at Aggborough.
One of those, Luke Jones , has already been snapped up by a club in financial straights when Mansfield signed him just minutes after his departure was announced. Then again Mansfield are a club that want to get back into the Football League as soon as possible and are prepared to gamble on doing just that. Something we are not prepared to do.
Eight other players have been offered contracts, or still in discussions, and have gone away to think it over. Of those I fully expect Matthew Barnes-Homer, Martin Riley and Sam Foley to say no and seek their fortunes elsewhere. In Foley's case he has already said that he wants the first team football that he's already getting at cash strapped Newport County.
The other five - Brian Smikle, Stefan Moore, Dean Coleman, Dean Bennett and David McDermott - could sign but seeing the ship now tipping back just before it glides beneath the waves they too might jump onto the nearest iceberg.
Today's goings on are just the tip of that iceberg following the failure to get these important players on extended contracts towards the end of 2008 and then the catastrophic failure to market the season ticket packages in mid March when the team were flying towards the play-offs. Enthusiasm was at a high then and just waiting to be converted into the hard cash that could have seen these dis-embarking players being offered better terms and confidence in the club.
What happened today was not just a budget for relegation. It was also a budget for 'doing a Woking' and to tread water in the Blue Square Premier until relegation does finally happen.
Photo © KHFC