Early May sees the domestic football charabanc trundling to its terminus for another year, top deck swathed in streamers and bunting for the winners and survivors, lower deck sheltering the shellshocked who’ve slipped at the last.
Few grounds in the country will witness such a nail biting conflict of triumph and despair as the Kassam Stadium in Oxford where the home team must win to retain league status while our very own Leyton Orient need the victory just as badly to hold off the challenge of Grimsby for the final automatic promotion spot to League One. In the same division Barnet also need a win away at already doomed Rushden & Diamonds to avoid dropping straight back into the Conference themselves. In total any one of seven clubs could join Rushden in falling through the trapdoor by 5pm on Saturday.
Round about that time Hillingdon Borough, recently promoted from the Spartan South Midlands League (five levels below the Football League, folks) hope to be holding aloft the FA Vase in Birmingham having vanquished Nantwich (try saying that with a mouthful of champagne). One of Fisher Athletic or Hampton & Richmond will also be cavorting around having won promotion from Ryman Division One (four levels below the League) in their final tomorrow afternoon.
Already doubtless gradually emerging from celebratory hangovers are the Arsenal Ladies team who walloped Leeds United 5-0 at Millwall’s New Den live on BBC 1 last Monday to collect the FA Cup which they’ll be parading at Highbury’s final match tomorrow. The men’s team are looking to sign off ninety-three years at the famous stadium with a win that will give them a chance of overhauling arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur for the final Champions League qualifying spot. Even if Spurs, away at cup finalists West Ham, prevail in that race Arsenal could still trump them by winning this year’s Champions League final.
Hoping to join the illustrious company of the Premiership are Watford and Crystal Palace who go head-to-head tomorrow lunchtime at Selhurst Park before the denouement at Vicarage Road on Tuesday evening. The winner will face Preston or Leeds in the final at Cardiff on May 21st.
Londonist will be attending one of the key fixtures above and an eyewitness report will appear early next week.
Photo via fgt's Flickr stream.