So Bray finished sixth for the second year in a row. A narrow defeat in Cork coupled with the expected Bohemians victory over Finn Harps meant Bohemians pipped us for fifth right at the finishing line.
Sixth is no disgrace but for a while this year it looked like we would push on and finish in the European spots. Sadly that was not to be, although sixth will qualify us for next year’s Irn Bru Scottish Challenge Cup, assuming the same arrangement as this year holds.
The end of the season always brings with it mixed feelings. You knew it was coming but it’s still a shock when you actually get there. No league games until February. Withdrawal symptoms. The need to find something else to do with your Friday nights.
Cork and Dundalk aren’t quite finished yet. They’ve still got the FAI Cup Final to contest. They must feel a bit like the Leaving Certificate students do as they wait for their exams to start while the rest of the school are already off on their jollies.
There will be changes at the Carlisle Grounds before another ball is kicked. Harry Kenny will need to be replaced. I haven’t a clue who we will get. It will be a new chapter, the next chapter. There will be changes in the playing squad. It will be sad to see some of the current side go, but you have to look forward. Our squad and management team for 2018, when finalised, will get our full support.
Looking back on the season just gone I have many great memories, despite the well-documented off-field problems that beset the club. The opening day win away to St Pats stands out, as do the 2 home victories over Shamrock Rovers. So many goals scored – 55 is more than anybody apart from Cork and Dundalk. Gary McCabe and Aaron Greene got nearly 30 between them.
More than anything my memories of the season centre on my children enjoying the match days with me. The off-field stuff goes over the heads of the young. That’s what helps you stay positive. They care more about whether the mascot waved at them. They’ll remember seeing Peter Cherrie saving a penalty. They want to know why John Sullivan is called ‘The Truck’.
I’ll miss seeing the crew in the Hibernia Inn before Bray games. I’ll miss the chats in the ground about all things Wanderers. I’ll miss writing my column for the match day magazine, although I have my Rochdale column to keep me going through the winter. I can’t wait for it all to come around again.
It’s been a pleasure writing this column all season. Thanks to all who read it. I’ll be back in the New Year. My last task this year is to pick this column’s Bray Wanderers Player Of The Season. Drumroll please … and the winner is … Aaron Greene.
Enjoy the break, see you in 2018.