After two consecutive seasons were cut short due to COVID-19, Hampton and Richmond Borough are hoping to make it third time’s the charm when it comes to promotion to the National League.
The National League South has been confirmed to start again on 14th August, which for a club that had ambitions to at least make the play-offs, is a long time away.
After the decision to end the league on a points-per-game basis to end the 2019/20 season and this year’s campaign was cut short due to coronavirus concerns, teams have struggled financially.
Hampton and Richmond were 0.1 points per game off the play-offs when the 19/20 season concluded and were sat sixth, in the play-offs, when this season was rendered null and void.
The club’s media assistant and co-commentator Ben Morton said: “It has been a pretty tough last year or so.
“It’s a massive shame regarding our on-pitch performances more than anything, because we were doing really well and we would have achieved a decent play-off position.”
Morton put the continued level of success down to the fact that the club managed to keep hold of many of the same players they had had in the previous campaign.
This was no easy feat, as contracts in the National League South are often only for one year, meaning that a player can play a single season and then move on for free.
Morton explained: “As soon as a couple of the players sign a new deal, the others do too.
“It’s also really nice to hear the players saying that they signed on for last season because they love the spirit of the club and the community feel.”
A big part of this community atmosphere came from free, live broadcasts on the Hampton and Richmond YouTube channel during the pandemic, which were appreciated across the league for the quality of the stream and entertaining commentary.
This meant that a lot of the people who would usually watch their team could still tune and support from the comfort of their living room, something non-league clubs cannot usually provide for their fans.
When the league was declared null and void, it was not just the disappointment of having no football at the Beveree Stadium, but the financial damage of having no fans inside the ground to watch games.
Despite their disappointment at the season ending prematurely this campaign, Hampton and Richmond were among the clubs that voted to null and void, as they felt financially there was no other option.
Looking to next season, Morton emphasised the importance of having fans back in the ground.
He said that it will be massively important for the fans to be back as they are a huge part of Hampton and Richmond Borough football club.
He added: “They have been missed. We are a community club, and we thrive off of the help and support of our fans.
“It really isn’t the same without fans, it doesn’t really feel like football. You get to know a lot of people at the games. It is a really tight knit club.”