Peter Rogers expressed fears this week that Wealdstone’s promotion could end Harrow’s long association with the Ryman Premier League, writes Tyrone Callender-Edwards.
Wealdstone’s victory at Hartsdown Park on Tuesday night means they head to Conference South next season, leaving chairman Rogers and his side along with their tenants Hendon isolated as the only west London teams left in a league historically crammed with clubs within the M25.
Indeed, the men of Earlsmead and the Greens are the league’s longest serving clubs and the two met on Monday night as Harrow ran out 2-1 victors thanks to Steve Butterworth’s last-gasp winner.
Borough had been beaten by the same scoreline against AFC Hornchurch two days earlier when Hendon had drawn 0-0 at Canvey.
Yet Rogers suspects the shift in membership over recent years towards Kent, Essex, Sussex and Suffolk means Borough and Hendon will be shunted west to the Southern Premier League taking all those years of history with them.
It is something he thinks will prove irreversible and do untold damage to the Ryman League.
He said: “With Wealdstone here, there were three of us so it kept a tight little unit, but with them getting promoted it does leave us vulnerable.
“So if the permutations with those relegated do not work out, then both Hendon and ourselves can be moved over to the Southern League.
“It will damage the Isthmian League irreparably because, if we go from that corner, it is going to pull the whole Isthmian League down to the South East.
“Us being here keeps the whole circle and the Isthmian League will lose out badly if the likes of ourselves and Hendon do get moved over.
“Congratulations to Wealdstone on getting promotion, but it could certainly affect the Isthmian League and it won’t be for the better.”
Rogers also expressed the need for the FA to restructure step three of the pyramid to four divisions rather than the current three for two reasons.
Firstly to reduce the number of fixtures – something increased to 46 in the current season because of the addition of two extra clubs and secondly to reduce the travelling for players who have regular jobs in addition to their footballing commitments.
He added: “The only way they will ever resolve that is if they divide the leagues at our level into four rather than three.
“They have increased our numbers to 24 this season which is ridiculous it is far too many games for clubs at our level and rather than having three divisions of 24 they should really perhaps be looking at four divisions of 20.
“All our players work or are students, we had to go to Lowestoft last season on a Wednesday – you are asking people to leave work early and get back in the early hours of the morning and go to work the following day.”
Harrow play Cray Wanderers on Saturday before hosting Lewes on Easter Monday while Hendon host Grays Athletic before travelling to Bognor Regis Town two days later.