Eleven years ago we were saying farewell to life in the football League with a 3-0 defeat at Northampton on a day that saw the Harriers fans travel in droves and, strangely, appeared to be in a happy mood with everyone there to celebrate our five years in the higher level. The team that season had tried hard but we just weren't good enough so along with Cambridge Utd we dropped. Many hoped that our stay in the Conference would be a short one and that we would bounce back soon but it was never going to happen due to finances and it was all the more galling to see equally cash strapped Cambridge return there two years ago.
Now we go even lower to join the dead men at the bottom of the sea. Will we ever get back?
A few months ago Southport were amongst the favourites to go down but a change of manager saw them improve enough to get out of the drop zone and then another change saw them consolidate that safe have in mid table. We changed our manager too but it didn't have quite the same effect. In fact it had no effect so we changed the manager again and that didn't have any effect either so we were flogging an already dead horse. At least we still have our pride.
Our new manager, John Eustace, will be at the game tomorrow running the rule over his new charges and no doubt wondering what he's letting himself in for. He might be able to inspire the team to a win or they could inspire themselves if they wish to still be at the club next season but whatever happens I'm sure that Eustace will begin to form an idea of where change is needed and then hopes that Colin Gordon will let him make those changes.
Sadly for us the season may have ended early for on loan Lewis Kinsella (right). He reported in with a calf injury yesterday and is extremely doubtful for the game. He has been a revelation since he arrived from Villa Park a few months ago and one wonders if now they have been relegated to the Championship he will begin to get game time next season. If not then I can't see him being allowed to come back to us at an even lower level and he'll almost certainly be going out on loan to a League One or Two club. As will Ben Whitfield when he returns to Bournemouth next week.
In Kinsellas place at Southport will probably be Zaine Francis-Angol or maybe Jared Hodgkiss will be getting a recall to the side with Tyrone Williams swapping sides. We also have another player with a minor injury but Jordan Jones should be fit although he hasn't even reached the bench in recent weeks.
Yesterday Southport announced that the former Harriers striker Andy Bishop was to be their new manager following a few weeks of being the caretaker. At only thirty three years old he must be one of the youngest managers around. So far he seems to have done well in the temporary position and hopefully he'll go on and make a good job of it next season too knowing what a poisoned chalice the Southport job can be at times.
They have just the one injury doubt over Jonny Margetts with the Tranmere loanee suffering a slight hip injury and he might not be risked.
This is going to be another of those days when the fans won't know wether to laugh or cry. We're taking at least two coaches with others from pubs and clubs possibly going too so there should be a good turnout to see this terrible day come to pass. Hopefully we'll be going out with a bang to set ourselves up for return in twelve months time.
Photo © KHFC
Snedker, Brown, Hodgkiss, Lowe, Langmead, Williams, Fané, Francis-Angol, Gnahoua, Tunnicliffe, J Jones, Whitfield, McQuilkin, Sweeney, N'Gwatala, Singh, Taylor, Patrick, Garnett.
Coughlin, Viscosi, Crocombe, Challoner, Whittle, Nolan, Thompson, Cartwright, Allen, Wright, Westcarr, Bishop, G Jones, Blakeman, Joyce, McCarthy, Rutherford, Almond, A Jones, O'Brien, Brewster, Phenix, Hewitt, Ryan, Grimshaw, Margetts.
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