Harvest Home boss apologises to title rivals after being crowned Mid-Solent League champions
Ray Ogilvie took the unusual step of apologising to title rivals FC Strawberry and Wymering after Harvest Home were crowned Mid-Solent League champions.
The MSL reached a different outcome from the FA's verdict to null and void the campaign for clubs at step three level and below in the wake of the coronavirus epidemic.
They were able to do this as there is no automatic promotion and relegation to and from their league.
Instead, they awarded a point to each team for their remaining matches by applying a 0-0 scoreline - meaning Harvest were crowned champions by just a point.
Most would say it was just reward for Ogilvie's men, who had won all 22 league and matches in all competitions in 2019/20.
But rather than toast his team's title success, the Harvest manager had sympathy for nearest challengers Strawberry (second) and Wymering (third) for the way the season ended following the coronavirus outbreak.
‘I’m pleased with the outcome,' Ogilvie said.
‘Winning the league by one point doesn’t really give a true reflection but no-one can argue we deserved some credit for what we achieved.
'The facts are we haven’t actually finished the season and we haven’t proved that we won it.
‘We could have still lost it to Wymering or FC Strawberry with a game against them before the season was cut short.
‘I feel we deserve it but at the same time I apologise to them two teams because if I was in there shoes I would have fancied myself to be the team to upset and beat us - and that could have changed everything.
‘If I’m honest, the season stopped at its most exciting point just before we had Strawberry and Wymering two weeks in a row.
‘That really would have defined the season.'
Harvest were level on points with Strawberry when they season was halted, taking top spot by virtue of a slightly better goal difference - plus 71 to plus 69. But crucially, they had a game in hand.
Strawberry had won all of their league games to date apart from one loss to Harvest, while third-placed Wymering had only dropped six points - losing once each to the top two.
The Mid-Solent League's decision to award Harvest the title does not guarantee they'll be playing in the Hampshire League next season.
Entry into that division is invite only and they are still awaiting approval to make the step up.
And Ogilvie admitted if they aren't granted a place in the HPL, there might not be a Harvest team next term.
‘We’re still waiting for approval but I’m quite confident we’ll get in,' he added.
‘But if we don’t I’ll take a step back from football for a year and I’ll enjoy going to watch other teams.
‘It’s one of them - we either go in or we fold.
‘We’ve applied, we’ve got the ground and everything that has been asked of us.
‘I do believe they’ve got space for two teams and I’m hoping we get accepted.'