A review of 22/23
This didn't pass muster as the report for Saturday, so rather than go to waste thought I would post in here...
Kingstonian 1 Hornchurch 2
So, 2022/23, that was… a season of football. A season that perhaps four or five times exceeded the utterly mediocre, and perhaps four or five times plummeted the depths of true despair. If anyone else can remember any of the rest of it in a year’s time, fair play. And if you know your Geneiro Maraghs from your Finlay Johnsons, and your Amine Sassis from your Junior Mboglems, you have my vote for Supporter of the Year.
Kingstonian got through three managers, used 57 players (at the last count), won precisely 11 matches (bleakly, just one of those in the cups), and finished six points and one place above the relegation zone. We drew six of our first eight league games, and three of our remaining 34. Or two of our last 25, if you prefer. Is any of this remotely interesting? I have no idea, but I don’t know what else to write about this absolute February of a season.
‘Home’ games were played in front of ever-dwindling crowds at a ground seven miles from Kingston’s town centre. Chanting behind the goal was at what must surely be an all-time low, so little to cheer about on the pitch, so little to cheer about off it. Only Corinthian-Casuals had a worse home record than K’s, and only Casuals scored fewer goals than our 21 in Mitcham, a fitting average of one per game. For all the many problems with Kingstonian playing at Mitcham, the impact it had on our home performances should not be ignored.
The Supporters Player of the Year award went to Iker Noguera Leon, an Academy prospect who made 13 appearances between mid-October and mid-February. Only the first ended in victory. He played the final four minutes.
In total, Leon was on the pitch for - I have actually worked this out - 421 league minutes, out of a possible 3780. It feels fitting someone who was part of one victory, and played just 11 per cent of the time, scooped the award. This is to take nothing away from Leon, clearly an exciting talent who was vital to the Under-18s’ successful season, but it serves as further proof barely anyone stood out in a season of not red-and-white, but interminable beige.
Besides the Under-18s’ success, there were some other positives. Simon Lane, for one, clearly a good man who quickly and decisively acted upon arriving in February, recognising the need for, more or less, an entirely new team. He assembled one that did the job with a game to spare, something that did not always look likely as Herne and Bowers mounted winter and then spring resistance.
Enfield away! Bognor away! Folkestone away! Casuals away (if only still home)! They were fun. That Casuals keeper being embarrassingly bad. That was fun/ny. Ibrahim Bangura’s banger at King George’s. That was great. Tyrese Owen looked a cut above, and is now playing a league above. Darnell Goater-Braithwaite injected some much-needed youthful urgency. Martyn Lee, Matt Drage and Tom Collins, people we actually recognised, returned and offered some link from the past to the present.
And, as ever, there was that one constant presence, a player of Kingsmeadow, of Fetcham, of King George’s, and then of Imperial Fields. There was one player who started the first game of the season, a scorching August Saturday in Margate, who started the last: Rob Tolfrey.
It remains to be seen whether our final fixture of 2022/23 - a 1-2 defeat to Hornchurch in which K’s played… quite well, actually - will be Tolfrey’s last in a Kingstonian shirt. He seemed to suggest it would be at full-time on Saturday, as he hugged the remaining home faithful (and make no mistake, never has the word faithful been more appropriate than this season), and gave his gloves to one supporter.
During the game Tolfrey, who turns 36 in August having been a mainstay between our posts across three different decades, made a couple of saves that were vintage Tolfs, his lightening reflexes leaving Hornchurch heads on hands, mouths agape.
Despite his best efforts, Tolfrey couldn’t quite prevent the Urchins’ winner crossing the line on the hour, completing a comeback for the league runners-up after Tom Collins’ early penalty, which he had won, put K’s ahead. If it is farewell, it was not the one he would have wanted; but then, I suppose, nor was this the season Kingstonian had wanted. Thank God it’s over.
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