BWFC 3 : 0 Peterborough
Back in August 2016, I hadn’t got a clue how we would fare in our first season back in the third tier of English football. No money, disheartened and diminished squad, a transfer embargo in place and it had taken us ten years to come back the last time we were relegated to this level. With a new management team under Phil Parkinson in place, my optimistic view was to stop the slide and avoid further relegation, to stay in business and to enjoy a tour of League One grounds, either new or not visited for a long while.
By the end of August, I was in a state of shock. Motorway jams had severely curtailed any pre-
Sombre September brought some reality back to the situation as Phil Parkinson got to know his squad and despite trying different formations, the goals dried up and we failed to win a match. Particularly disappointing was our loss at Rochdale with such a great following. At least our cracking start had given us some breathing space to find our best team and formation.
October to December proved to be a period for results, as new loanees settled in and the squad came together. We piled the points on as I piled the pounds on after some great fodder at Northampton and Peterborough. We were back up to second, culminating in beating the leaders, Scunthorpe United in added time.
Disruptions to the team with Sammy Ameobi not returning and Zach Clough leaving, meant January was almost a barren month. At least we give Big Sam’s Palace a run for their money in the FA Cup and my lunch of the season was found at the Greyhound in Longford, Coventry but things were slipping again on the League front.
The turning point came in February as we ran out of full backs and Phil Parkinson tried the 3-
Ominously, we lost Ben Alnwick, Andrew Taylor and Gary Madine in the Shrewsbury match and the goals dried up in four of the first five matches in April. The exception I believe was the most important goal of the season, Mark Beevers in added time at Roots Hall, Southend. That goal meant that it was in our hands, promotion was ours to lose.
As we slipped up at Scunthorpe United and Oldham Athletic, Fleetwood Town maintained their challenge, narrowing the difference to two points as we headed to Port Vale. Nothing less than three points would do. Never mind Brexit, the General Election or North Korea, Gary Madine’s shoulder was the important news. Gary was patched up and sent into battle. We won comfortably to set up the promotion party against Peterborough. A point would see us up. There was a tear in my eyes as the crowd were singing ‘We are going up’ as we comprehensively beat Peterborough. It was our turn for a celebratory pitch invasion. Some players led the celebrations in a local pub. Celebrations continued long into the night at the Player of the Year Dinner with the players and fans together. That togetherness has been missing for years. So, we did far better than I could have hoped for. I got my tour of League One grounds but the finances are still a work in progress. The best feeling is that we have got our club back.