Paul Musgrove and Jack Ainsley describe feelings of despair at Stowmarket Town having promotion dream taken away by the FA - but vow to go again
Everyone connected with Stowmarket Town is having to try and digest the news that everything they have worked for this season will count for nothing, after the FA's announcement the season at Steps 3-6 is now null and void.
Assistant manager Paul Musgrove had compared their situation to Liverpool's in last week's Free Press, being still unbeaten 28 games into a 38-game season in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division with a 15-point lead.
Reacting to this afternoon's news, soon after it had been relayed to him by manager Rick Andrews while he was on his commute, he said: "It is just gutting when I think about the hours we put in from pre-season and all the hours playing.
"There is more to life than football and people losing their lives does pale it into insignificance so I guess we have to try and put it in perspective.
"But it does feel like how many kicks in the balls can you take? (Stowmarket narrowly missed out on promotion last season after amassing 103 points).
"It just seems very unjust and I thought common sense would have prevailed. Points per game did seem reasonable to everybody."
But he feels they can make history now repeat itself when the 2020/21 season does swing into action.
"We have got a good group of lads and a brilliant club and fans so all I can say is I hope everyone gets behind us again and we go again.
"The other thing is we do get another crack at the Vase."
Midfielder Jack Ainsley was at work on a building site when he found out the news, which he admits has hit the players hard.
"Our health and everyone's health is more important than football but it is gut-wrenching really to finish like this," said the former Ipswich Town professional who signed from higher-league Felixstowe & Walton United in the summer.
"I did not realise it until a few boys sent messages on our What's App group and everyone was just gutted about the news.
"They (The FA) were in a difficult position but they could have surely worked it out some way to take account for us being unbeaten and top of the league!?
"It is not like there is anything we can do about it but everyone at the club is going to be distraught after all the hard work we have all put in. We were unbeaten in the league and on course for the treble and then this happens.
"I cannot think what Rick and all the coaching staff and chairman are thinking at the moment.
"We will just have to go again next season, and at least we will get another crack at the Vase."
Ainsley still has another year on his contract and says that is a similar situation for 'the majority' of the squad, so hopes that is something that can now work in their favour.
"It can only strengthen us doing it all over again next year," he said.
"We would have won the league by a country mile to be honest and I think we could have gone the whole season unbeaten.
"It is just deflating at the moment. Everyone is struggling to come to terms with it.
"Everyone is just gutted it has come to an end."
More by this authorRussell Claydon
This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)