And now, the end is near and so we face, the final curtain. My friends, I’ll say it clear, this year has been fun, of which I’m certain. Some won, through tears of joy, others fell with tears of anguish. And more, much more than this, football is our game.
Here are the award winners for the final league game of the Football League season:
FANS OF THE WEEKEND: Hartlepool United
The fans of Hartlepool United are a pretty special bunch and they always look to put a smile on other’s faces with their final away game of the season and they’ve done it once again.
This year’s choice for fancy dress was Stormtroopers and plenty of the hundreds that made the long trip down to Plymouth on Saturday donned their best Star Wars gear to give us another spectacle in the stands.
The result certainly didn’t go their way, they got a bit of a last game thumping from an Argyle side preparing for the playoffs but the Pools fans will be pleased of their late-season run under Craig Hignett. They will prepare for next year, with those crazy fans in tow, as they look to kick on again in League Two.
GOAL OF THE WEEKEND: Anthony Forde – Walsall
In a game full of stunning strikes, it’s Anthony Forde’s superb effort that takes the biscuit. Even with a few more shots from range, some that flew in and some that hit the woodwork, this one was the pick of the bunch.
The midfielder picked up the ball from at least 35 yards out, took a quick look up and unleashed an absolute rocket. It flew into the top corner, giving Jak Alnwick no chance of keeping it out, it’s a simply beautiful hit of a football.
The Saddlers did everything that they could control to be promoted but other results did not go their way. It will be the playoffs for them but they go into them in superb form and will be difficult for anyone to face in the post-season.
MOMENT OF THE WEEKEND: The contrasting emotions
With a weekend like this, there always will be contrasting emotions on the football field and there was none more so than two games in particular this weekend.
The first was in the Championship as Burnley won the league at The Valley as Charlton played their final game in the division. The ire of the home fans was clear for everyone to see, with Sean Dyche’s men even having to wait until Monday for their trophy presentation due to fears of more unrest in the Addick’s faithful.
The other was in Doncaster as Rovers went down in the same game Burton Albion sealed promotion. The visitors were allowed to celebrate, and their fans came in their numbers, but it did feel like a strange, sombre atmosphere.
Highs and lows in two games for two different teams, a clear reminder of how football can bring such joy and such despair in one fell swoop.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Middlesbrough 1-1 Brighton and Hove Albion
Probably the biggest game of the weekend lived up to the billing as two heavyweights fought for the chance at promotion to the Premier League.
Middlesbrough hit their opponents with a haymaker early as Cristhian Stuani gave them the lead but after the break, Dale Stephens pulled the Seagulls level. With tempers flaring, Stephens went from hero to zero after being sent off for a foul on Gaston Ramierez.
That proved to be the knockout blow as Boro held on to finally achieve promotion, 12 months separated from their playoff heartache. At the same time, Brighton have been superb this season and with the quality they have, Chris Hughton’s men still have a great chance to join them in the top flight.
YOUNG PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Jack Marriott – Luton Town
It’s always great to see your team finish with a bang and not many teams did as much as Luton Town, who won 4-1 against Exeter City with some help from youngster Jack Marriott.
The 21-year-old grabbed two good goals, almost scored a third and almost had an assist had Joe Piggott not missed a glorious chance. It was a great performance from the youngster who has had a solid season but much like his team, they have not been consistent enough.
With so many looking at Luton to make a push this season, many will be disappointed that they did not challenge at the top of the table. With more performances like this and if they can keep their exciting youngsters on board, they could be a threat in 2016/17.
PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND: Scott Hogan – Brentford
A feel good story to finish the season with as Scott Hogan continues his great form after returning from a long injury layoff.
Hogan scored twice, taking his tally to seven goals in seven games since his return, as Brentford finished on fine form. The 5-1 win against Huddersfield Town was the cherry on the cake, with the Londoners finishing with seven wins in their final eight games.
The 24-year-old has played just eight games for Brentford having joined the club back in 2014 but with his injuries seemingly behind him, he is back on the up with April’s Player of the Month under his belt. If he can keep this up and Brentford take this momentum into next season, they could be back at the right end of the table again.
TEAM OF THE WEEKEND: Bristol Rovers
What a moment, two years apart from utter heartbreak as they fell out the Football League, now Bristol Rovers are heading into League One.
They did it the hard way, coming from a goal behind against already-relegated Dagenham and Redbridge and left it until added time to score the goal that would see them promoted. They had to rely on a result going their way and with Accrington Stanley only managing a draw, that was enough to do it.
A big congratulations to Darrell Clarke and his team, who have taken the momentum of winning the Conference playoffs last season into this and have never looked back. What a run they have been on and now, they are only one division below their cross-town rivals, which would be a dream for their fans.
And that’s almost it for The72 Football League Weekend Awards this season, join us for a playoff special in a few week’s time but for all the teams not involved, this writer looks forward to seeing most of you again next season.