A Kingstonian pause for thought

First published in Sport by

Kingstonian fan Taimour Lay reflects on his team's London Senior Cup defeat and looks forward to next season.

"There is a way to deal with failure, or the relative success of others, and that’s to tell ourselves stories that stress contingency (they got lucky) or complexity (there are just too many variables to ever really know where it all went wrong).

It’s the great virtue of Kingstonian fans that we tend to eschew such deluding post-match comforts.

We lost to Hendon because they were better than us and all the ticker tape in south London couldn’t hide that fact.

But we really did have a lot of ticker tape.

In the old days, as teenagers with nothing better to do, we used to tear up old copies of the Comet on long coach journeys before throwing the fragments into the air as the players emerged from the tunnel.

Empty terraces would fill with colour and atmosphere.

The era of free commuter papers now provides ample material.

For Wednesday afternoon, at least, it felt as though Metro finally found a reason to exist.

There were banners, too, balloons, streamers and curious paraphernalia purchased from a pound shop by our team sponsor, Banquet Records.

We still do all this better than any other non-league team: building an occasion, gathering behind a goal to will the ball into the net, making a game big by concentrating on small things.

‘We owe them for 1960!’ remarked one K’s fan online in the build-up to the final, referring to the Amateur Cup final 52 years ago in which Hendon beat us 2-1 in front of 60,000 people at Wembley.

The past always seeps into the present at Kingstonian, in good ways and bad.

Some fans approached this game with a lofty detachment – it’s ‘only’ the London Senior Cup, after all – nothing compared to those Trophy days in 1999 and 2000, not even as important as the Surrey Senior victory over AFC Wimbledon in 2006.

Others, like me, saw the game for what it was: a chance to at least partially redeem a season of struggle, to stand with hundreds rather than dozens and sing the songs that that have defined the club’s identity for decades, from ‘Weaving In and Out’ to ‘All my life I’ve been a K’s supporter.'

All of which doesn’t eliminate space for regret: the Bobby Traynor header, the Tom Bird free-kick rattling the cross-bar, the absence of the cup-tied Saheed Sankoh which proved so crucial as Hendon passed their way round us time and again.

But here’s another way to deal with failure: take the long view. This match was just a small stumble in our 127-year journey. And there’s always next season."

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