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The morning after...!

Hayden Bird

Kingstonian manager Hayden Bird somehow puts his feelings about Saturday into words.

It’s 10am, blue sky and a bleary-eyed Manager walks in to a busy coffee shop in Kingston High Street. With little or no voice, he is quick to assure everyone he has the ‘flu, rather than being hungover!

There is no doubt Saturday was a landmark day in the new era of Kingstonian. Indeed, perhaps a landmark day the last twenty years of this famous Football Club.

As we sipped our coffee, Hayden proudly pointed at a customer reading The Non League Paper. Rightly so, for the second week in succession, Kingstonian featured on the front cover. “It’s an indication of the progress already being made,” he beamed.

This of course, was not new territory for the new Boss. It’s the second time in four years that Hayden has qualified for the 1st Round Proper of The FA Cup. So how was Hayden feeling this morning?

“I’m absolutely delighted but not surprised,” stressed the Manager. “We are making so much progress, as a team.”

“Our recent form is pleasing. Won 7 Drawn 3 Lost 1 shows we are working hard and shows we are improving all the time. Speaking honestly, looking at those draws (Carshalton Athletic, Bowers & Pitsea and Weston), we should have and deserved to have won those games as well!”

“The players deserve immense credit. They know how highly I regard them and understand why I push them so hard every day in training. Their reaction is exceptional. It gives me great encouragement to how far we can take this squad of players.”

How did yesterday compare to reaching the same stage with Merstham and how many of the same players were involved?

“It’s difficult to compare the two. This feels different as reaching the 1st Round with Merstham was the pinnacle, whereas here it feels like just the start of our journey.”

“From our team, five players were involved in the Oxford United tie. Tutu, Tom, Dan, Reece and Beno. Their experience will be important but the squad has plenty of big game and FA Cup experience. The players will be ready and unfazed by any opponent.”

“Yesterday was for the Directors, volunteers and supporters. Everyone at this Club has been tested in the last few years. Whether it’s been leaving Kingsmeadow or under achieving on the pitch, loyalties have been tested and at times pushed to the limit.”

“These people deserve success, and the chance to enjoy Kingstonian again. If myself and the team can achieve that in our first year here, I’ll be happy.”

“It meant so much seeing so many delighted  people yesterday. The fans were ecstatic, the Directors were absolutely thrilled and the players were elated. This is the reason I came here. The scenes at the final whistle will live long in the memory. Who can forget the emotion of players like Rob Tolfrey’s face after the game?”

Now we are through, who would Hayden like in Monday’s Cup Draw? A big League Club or a great chance to reach the 2nd Round?”

“Personally, I’d love a tie against a big League Club. Let’s make memories and take Kingstonian to Fratton Park, The Stadium of Light or even Kingsmeadow! Now that would be interesting, wouldn’t it!”

“Everyone wants those draws of course. Let’s not be too greedy and just be pleased we are in the hat and be ready for anyone!”

If yesterday’s game is anything to go by, there is no doubt the team we be exactly that. Ready for anyone. When Hayden arrived, he described Kingstonian as a “sleeping giant”. Perhaps the jubilant scenes at the final whistle are the first sign that the sleeping giant is finally awakening!

The FA Draw is Live on BBC2 tonight at 7.00pm!

Published Monday 21st October 2019