There have been some magic and tragic moments for Eastbourne Borough this season.
Who would have considered relegation when the Boro’ were scoring goals for fun and flying high in the table?
Their first 10 games saw a combined tally of 45 goals as they quite rightly earned the reputation asthe division’s chief entertainers.
They started inAugust with a 4-2 defeat at Tamworth but hit back with style and clobbered Hayes and Yeading 5-0, swiftly followed by a thrilling 4-3 victory against Dean Saunders’ Wrexham side.
Defeats by AFC Wimbledon and Cambridge followed but if anyone doubted morale they responded in dramatic fashion against Darlington. Trailing 1-0, reduced to nine-men following red cards for Rikki Banks and Neil Jenkins, Boro’, with Matt Smart between the sticks, hit back through Jamie Taylor to record a memorable draw in front of the watching Chelsea and England captain John Terry.
Wins against Altrincham, Forest Green and York City all fueled optimism around Priory Lane before a spate of injuries co-incided with a loss in form and serious loss of confidence.
The 2-1 home victory against York on October 2 proved to be their last league victory for some time. It was to be a staggering 20 more Premier matches before Wilson’s men tasted success again.
A total of 15 loan players came and went throughout the season in a desperate attempt to paper the cracks. Injuries, long journeys and too many games for the senior players continued to hinder Boro’s battle to avoid the drop.
The long-awaited victory eventually came at Fleetwood in February and what it winner it proved to be.
Being the whole hearted Eastbourne Borough stalwart he is, Matt Smart would surely have traded his goal for a few more points but even he would admit it was an incredible way to break a 20-game sequence with three points.
It’s no exaggeration to say his winning 60-yard free kick is up there with the best of all time. If the Blue Square Premier received an ounce of the Premiership coverage, his wonder-goal would be replayed over and again and quite rightly so.Take a bow Matt Smart!
During that dreadful run painful exits from the FA Cup and FA Trophy to lower league opposition piled the pressure on boss Garry Wilson but he refused to resign and chairman Len Smith stuck by his man as the club prepared themselves for an almighty relegation battle.
A 4-1 home victory against Southport in early March followed by continued progress in the Sussex Senior Cup lifted spirits. But away trips to Wrexham and York came at precisely the wrong the time.Two narrow defeats and the momentum was lost.
An away win at Southport included another Smart wonder-strike, which he dedicated to defender Darren Baker who celebrated an incredible 900 appearances for the Sports, was sandwiched inbetween four painful home defeats by Barrow, Crawley, Kettering and 6-0 home thumping by Fleetwood.
The inevitable relegation was confirmed at a sombre Priory Lane on April 16 after a 1-1 draw with Kidderminster Harriers.
Boro’ were outclassed by a Luton Town side at Kenilworth Road before they finished the season with a flourish with back to back wins against Bath City and Altrincham.
It brought an end to Boro’s three-year adventure in the top-tier of non-league football. It’s been an eventful journey for all concerned with the club and who’s to say they will not bounce straight back at the first attempt?