At the start of the month Bromley played two games in four days and were watched by a total of 9,200 people. I’ll just let that sink in. 9,200. Most of us have seen our team play in front of less than a hundred.
But times have changed. And not only were we playing in front of huge crowds, but we were also playing big name teams in desperate need of points. It was a good couple of games for Bromley. We were unlucky to lose to top-of-the-table Lincoln by all accounts, while the win at in-form York was well deserved.
Straight after these, we went on to score four against Wrexham and another four against Barrow. Playing ex-League teams like these is unbelievable enough. Beating them convincingly doesn’t feel real.
Realistically, any win is something to celebrate at this level and we’ve won more than our fair share. Neil Smith deserves huge credit for getting us on the verge of a top ten finish and building a side capable of exciting attacking football.
Overall, it’s been a good season, although in true Bromley fashion, what was arguably the most impressive result in the club’s 125 year history, that 2-2 draw at Tranmere, was sandwiched somewhere between losing 1-5 at home to Forest Green and losing 0-5 at home to Braintree.
On the field, Blair Turgott has been outstanding, as was Brandon Hanlan, although he was summoned back to the Charlton bench all too soon. Tobi Sho-Silva, is a natural goalscorer . who just gets better and better, while Jack Holland has been as reliable as ever. Towards the tail end of the season, Jordan Higgs has consistently caught the eye.
There have been plenty of highlights over the last eight months.
Connor Dymond’s defence-splitting pass to Louis Dennis at York will linger long in the memory, as will the pitch invasions from a cat (Gareth) and a Hot Dog (random Tranmere fan in fancy dress). Alan Julian’s penalty save against Boreham Wood is something I’ve watched over and over again, while I got huge satisfaction from the Twitter update announcing the last minute Dennis goal against Sutton, long after I’d given up hope of a result. Seeing us win live on TV at Macclesfield wasn’t bad, either.
On a personal note, I was pleasantly shocked by the big turnout of Bromley fans for the launch of Home and Away in the Ravens Bar (the publisher said that they had record sales for any launch he’d been involved in). Much credit for the enjoyment of the evening goes to announcer/host/interviewer Mash.
Amongst the low points was the entire 90 minutes of the home game against Chester, losing Alan Julian (the best Bromley goalkeeper I’ve ever seen) to an ordinary side a couple of divisions below us and seeing our attack completely snuffed out by a Tranmere defender who resembled a borderline obese Shane Warne.
Then there was the usual cast of players who make no impression whatsoever and quickly vanish, including Alfie Pavey, Aaron Hayden, Michael Ngoo and Jamie Philpot. These names are unlikely to be remembered fondly in years to come. It’s doubtful they’ll be remembered at all.
My personal rock bottom, however, came on a freezing October night at Hayes Lane, as we went down 2-0 to Dover without a fight. Anthony Cooke was watching from in front of the snack bar, Louis Dennis was watching from the stands and Moses Emmanuel was watching from the Dover bench.
It was a cruel reminder of when the three of them had combined to provide the golden Autumn of 2015, scoring goals for fun. Seeing them there made a home loss to my least favourite team in the National League even harder to take.
Also hard to take was being held to a draw in the FA Trophy by a team I’d never heard of. And having to jog from Bromley South to make sure I didn’t miss the start was pretty unmemorable.
But the main feeling I get when I look back over the season is one of pride.
I’m proud of our team. We’re a small club, despite the ambitions held by some to see us in the Football League, and it’s apt that our last home game of the season is against Guiseley, another team punching above their weight (and, coincidentally, my home town).
There are those who will be disappointed with a mid table finish, but I’m not one of them.
As far as I’m concerned, the fact that we can look forward to another season in the National League is an outstanding achievement and cause for celebration.