K’s Implode Again in First Half
I hate Non League Day. And so Harrow is the perfect place to celebrate it.
First, let’s lay the myths to rest. The Bostik Prem is not a treat, a novelty, a legitimate leisure activity, “real” football in a hyper-commercial age, a last redoubt of damaged masculinity, an antidote to calcio moderno, a “good day out” or any of the things the marketing men on Twitter spout in a doomed attempt to attract 14 more people to Earlsmead or The Green Elephant Stadium or Imber Court on grey October afternoons. The Bostik Prem is hell. The Bostik Prem is where people go when the hope has gone. The Bostik Prem is habit. The Bostik Prem is a mistake that no one can rectify.
Sure enough, this was a Non League Day defined by one moment of calamity and one moment alone. It was the moment in the 30th minute when K’s left-back Toby Little sent a short, inviting, woefully misjudged backpass to keeper Rob Tolfrey. This led to another moment: Sam Page bringing down former K’s striker Charles Banya (whose career highlight to date was hitting the bar at Bognor during The Great Escape of Spring 2017).
Having failed to make the foul look sufficiently like a clumsy accident, Page was duly sent off, punished for the original sin he hadn't committed. Reis Stanislaus, whose publicly available wedding video I have watched as part of research for this match report, squeezed the ball home.
1-0 to Harrow and the 170 or so north London/Middlesex/Heathrow souls we call “The Cauldron” were boiling over with joy.
There was more to come. K’s were still readjusting to the prospect of 65 minutes with 10 men when Stanislaus scored his second, beating the unfortunate Tolfrey at the second attempt.
The Cauldron bubbled over. My old affection for Earlsmead returned. Harrow don’t pretend to be anything. Harrow neither trade on past glories nor harbour ambitions of progress. Harrow won’t build rooves behind the goal. Harrow don’t prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet. Harrow have a league table written by hand on a wall. Harrow have one banner. It says “One team in Harrow”, an entirely accurate statement of socio-geographical fact.
The match was done. But 50 K’s fans could hardly leave. Our £10 was in the Earlsmead coffers. The public transport options home were daunting. And there was the prospect of bread pudding in the tea bar.
Also, strangely, K’s were – and remained – the better side throughout. After a 5-1 shellacking on Tuesday at Burgess Hill, this may sound blinkered but this is probably the best K’s team since Andre and Ryan dovetailed at the Meadow and Tommy hugged us tight by the John Smiths.
Noel Mbo, on loan from Gillingham, ran the channels hard. Kane Haysman hit the post. New signing James Fraser, 28-goal James Fraser, has the gait and skill and vision of a young David Graham. Alec Fiddes, who is fluent in Spanish as evidenced by his Instagram feed, has suddenly decided to spark into life, even cutting inside for mazy dribbles and Iberian angles. Manu Goganas threw the ball long. Bi-le Smith Tiesse, poached from East Grinstead, replaced Little and had a creditable debut on the left.
There’s something about to happen with this team. Possibly. These results may be blips before the playoff burst. As the old saying goes, sometimes you have to go back before you can go forward. Just don’t pass it straight back to Banya.
Match report by Taimour Lay.