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© Chris Byrne 2010


Andy Sinnott was hoping for a top-half finish as a new era dawned and City began the new season as a Southern League team for the first time in their long history. The long awaited non-league reorganisation had meant there would be plenty of new teams on view at Court Place Farm over the coming season and there was much discussion as to how City might fare in a league that many had felt was more ‘physical’ than the Isthmian League.
One goal and one point from the first three matches was not encouraging, but a 6-1 win at Egham including a hat-trick from debutant Mark Simms settled nerves a little.
Interest was high as City were drawn to face local rivals Abingdon Town in the FA Cup – it was several years since they had met when both were in the same division of the Isthmian League – and a close match was expected. But the game was over as a contest by half-time with City 4-0 ahead and they went on to win 7-0, their biggest home win since moving to Court Place Farm. A 3-2 victory at Banstead produced another home draw in the Second Qualifying Round, but an uninspiring match saw City lose by the odd goal to Leyton.
The home jinx appeared to have carried over from the previous season as it wasn’t until mid-December that three points were finally picked up at home, when a single goal from Stuart Douglas was enough to edge past Bedworth: the tenth home league match of the season. In fact there were only two more wins at Court Place Farm all season – against Swindon Supermarine and Brackley – and only 14 points in total.


The FA Trophy brought a strong Brackley Town side to visit, and City put aside their poor league form to cheer their supporters with a decisive 4-1 win. A battling 1-1 draw at Tonbridge Angels in the next round raised hopes of a cup-run, but the Kent side had much the better of the replay and ran out 4-2 victors.
Away form had been slightly better than but after the 3-0 defeat at table-topping Evesham in December the side slipped into the bottom four and it was becoming more and more apparent that they were going to have a fight on their hands if they were to stave off relegation. But the New Year brought some hope as the side took 12 points out of 21 in January,
There were only two more league victories and, with Egham well adrift at the very bottom, it became a battle for survival between Bedworth, Bracknell, Swindon Supermarine and City. Attendances began to slip as games became nervous affairs though the impressive form of young Gareth McLeary (later to play for Nottingham Forest) was one redeeming feature.
Even at the start of March the sides below them were still not putting together any strings of positive results so Andy Sinnott was still hopeful of a finishing position out of the bottom two. But first Bedworth and then Swindon began picking up points and it gradually became a two-way contest between Bracknell and City.
If matters on the field were bad, they were put into perspective when Robin Antonowicz was involved in a road accident in mid-April and died a few days later in hospital.
This tragedy brought the City community together and the side went ahead with its match at Corby despite being given permission by the league for a postponement, but with Bracknell gaining a surprise win at Taunton the relegation issue was finally out of City’s hands, and the loss at Corby on the penultimate Saturday meant nothing less than a win on the final day, and a defeat or draw for Bracknell, would save them from relegation. Both sides lost and so City, who only actually moved into a relegation position in the last week of the season, suffered relegation along with Egham Town and would spend the summer wondering which Step 5 league they would be playing in when August arrived. Would it be the (Spartan) South Midland, which City had joined when they rejoined senior football in the early ‘90s, or the more local Hellenic League?
The Reserves also occupied a relegation spot in the Suburban League, but the club withdrew from the league and would join the Hellenic League the following season, making significant savings on travel.

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