Laughable and hilarious: Hastings boss on another wasted non-league season

Chris Agutter says the decision to axe another non-league football season is hilarious and laughable.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 9:15 am
Chris Agutter says the loss of another non-league season is laughable / Picture: Scott White

The Hastings United boss adds: “If you didn’t laugh about it, you’d cry.”

Last week’s decision by the FA to ‘curtail’ the league season at Isthmian League and Southern Combination League level – still to be confirmed by the FA Council – has left United facing another season at step four of the non-league pyramid, despite having led the Isthmian south-east division at the conclusion of each of the past two campaigns.

Agutter said the desire he, his players and the club as a whole had to reach step three, the Isthmian premier, was as strong as ever.

“The whole thing is hilarious. Null and void, then curtailed – they keep coming up with different words for it,” he told the Observer.

“After everything that’s gone on I’ve stopped trying to second guess what will happen. I don’t have a clue.

“I find it laughable there are teams who voted to end the league season who are now wanting to take part in a cup. It all stinks of self-preservation. I know it’s difficult because this pandemic has never happened before.”

Some at Hastings thought the prospect of them being awarded promotion this year could still be open when the FA said it might press ahead with the reorganisation of steps four to six in non-league.

But the Observer understands this, if it did go ahead, would only see step six and five teams promoted this summer – and, in any case, it is a long way from being agreed.

It all means the focus at The Pilot Field, as far as the men’s team are concerned, is on next season.

Agutter revealed he was talking to players about what could be learned from the part of the 2020-21 season that was played and about plans for the next campaign.

“We’re learning and trying to be better than we were before,” he said.

“The whole ‘unfinished business’ factor isn’t the motivation for us. For me and the players, Hastings United is a good club to be at, and it has shown a lot of loyalty.

“Whatever division we are in we will be going out to win it. We want to challenge ourselves at the highest level that we can.”