So, 111 days after the last game of the Pembrokeshire Football League season was played, here we are finally analysing the outcomes.

From the initial bewilderment as to what was going on, to the season being curtailed, to the anxious month long wait for teams to find out if promotion and relegation had been upheld – it has been the strangest of seasons.

And that’s without mentioning mumps, or even Storm Jorge and his mates.

But in all seriousness, we’ve been through one of those rare periods where local football has been firmly put into perspective. The devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, and the subsequent lives lost, has taken precedent over everything and rightly so.

In one sense, there is some light at the end of the tunnel with the return of top-flight football seemingly going smoothly thus far. However, we do of course live in a different world to Premier League stars and my hunch is the return of amateur football remains a considerable way off.

Anyway, we can still respect the magnitude of what has gone on without being all doom and gloom.

So here’s a light-hearted look back on the (half) season just gone, and some (very) unofficial awards to go with it.

An imperfect ending:

Cards on the table here, if I was in a side awarded a title by points per game average - I’d happily take it. It’s not the ideal way for anyone to win a trophy but little about the world is ideal at the moment.

Likewise, if I’d missed out on a potential cup final, been relegated, or denied a shot at the league or promotion - I’d feel hard done by.

It is inevitable with decisions like this that opinions are dictated by personal interest and obviously in Pembrokeshire the main publicity centred around Hakin United being crowned Division 1 champions.

Only two points separated The Vikings and Monkton and Goodwick were nine points off but did have two games in hand. But to the credit of Scott Davies and co, Hakin had won 12 of their 13 league games with a goal difference of plus 67.

I’ve no doubt there were twists and turns to come but few can argue about their league form before things were suspended. And the statement the manager released after the FAW decision was bang on the money – even if whoever concocted the lyrics to that victory song definitely wasn’t.

In fact, as it turned out the leaders in all five Pembrokeshire divisions were awarded titles. Like I said, it wasn’t a perfect solution but there was at least symmetry in that respect.

Why the wait?:

It was May 20th when the FAW instructed that all league tables in Wales be finalised. It was June 16th when those at the top or bottom of their respective leagues learnt if they were going up or down.

For Haverfordwest County, it was worth the wait as their promotion back to the Cymru Premier League was confirmed. But then again, news had long leaked by then that the Bluebirds and Flint would be going up to the top tier.

Pembrokeshire clubs however, were kept in the dark. It was more complex at Welsh League level given the legal and financial complications involved, but there was no reason to keep grassroots sides waiting so long.

In fact, the FAW have not exactly played a blinder throughout this pandemic. After stumbling from one unrealistic resumption date to another, they then cried foul play when news of their intentions were leaked out. And to eventually reach a conclusion, before taking another month to properly conclude that conclusion, made it even more anti climatic for teams who went up.

Oh and one final thing, don’t call it recreational football. That’s a kickabout in the park with jumpers for goalposts. Amateur football, grassroots, local, whatever. Just not recreational.

The next whistle:

General consensus is the 2020/21 Pembrokeshire League campaign will not kick off on time - and it’s hard to envisage otherwise.

To the credit of many of our clubs, they’ve kept themselves active by raising funds for good causes with endurance challenges. You can never replicate 90 minutes on a football field, but when training does eventually resume there should be no shortage of stamina levels!

Clubs have also been sending us their ‘teams of the 21st century’, which have made for interesting reads.

But of course, what we all really want is matches again. It has been a frustrating time and maybe one which has made us all appreciate local sport more than we did before.

Clubs have also gone through a difficult period financially, especially those who rely on membership fees and bar income, and getting things up and running again won’t be straightforward.

So when things do resume don’t skip Saturday games because you’re feeling hungover, promised the missus you’d go shopping, or there's a decent lunch time kick off on Sky Sports. And unless your pitch is unplayable, don’t go calling games off because the lads don’t fancy the wind and rain either. Further still, pop to the bar when the game is done, even if it’s only for a squash.

Because once this enforced break is over clubs will need support more than ever. Pembrokeshire football isn’t perfect, but by now we should all have learnt something - by God we’d miss it if it was gone.

(Very) unofficial awards:

Anyway, that’s enough serious stuff. Here’s some casual honours from the season just gone which you won’t ever need to tell your grandkids about:

Team of the season: Monkton Swifts 2nds

Seems a slightly left field choice to opt for a Division 3 side I know, but then again hard to look past the team with the only 100% record in Pembrokeshire League football last season. Under Andrew Webb, the Swifts had won 16 from 16, racked up a goal difference of plus 65, and had cruised into the semi final of their divisional cup as well. It’s the one local league where none of the chasing pack could begrudge the title winners, and it means Monkton will have teams in both of the top tiers next season.

Player of the season: Martin Langdon (Hakin)

The easy option would have been to go for Ben Steele here, and I nearly did. He was on 21 top flight goals before the season was curtailed, including three hat tricks and a seven goal haul against Saundersfoot. His form was a big factor in Monkton again being in the title hunt when Covid-19 took over.

In Division 2 Tom Dyson inevitably made a major impact with Hundleton but it was the influence of Langdon that resonated with me most. His presence seemed to bring a new found assurance to the Hakin back four and it’s no coincidence The Vikings had the best defensive record in Division 1.

His county call up was justified, even if he did then spoil it by letting a late shot sneak under him against Carmarthenshire. But he still gets the nod here.

Young (ish) player of the season: Matty Delaney (Goodwick)

He’d only chops me on Twitter if he won nothing so here goes. But in all seriousness last season Delaney went from being a youngster with potential to a real driving force in the Goodwick midfield. The way he got hold of their West Wales Cup tie against Kilvey Fords, in atrocious weather too, spoke volumes about his growing influence. And like all carefree youngsters, not afraid of getting stuck in and indulging in a few handbags either – physically or verbally.

Unsung player of the season: Ben John (Clarbie Road)

Possibly Division 1’s most improved player. Clarbie were hit by injuries and the loss of a few key players last season but the form of John helped ensure they were on course for another steady season. Scored 14 times and also caused the league’s better teams problems with his direct running and strength on the ball. Enjoyed a very good (half) campaign.

Manager of the season: Andrew Thomas (Angle)

Another unexpected call no doubt. But after Angle sadly withdrew from the leagues two years ago, I liked how Thomas set about rebuilding them. He resisted the temptation to try and recruit from all corners and build a strong team to sear through Division 5, but kept faith with the club’s under 16s who were coming through. Chances are now those youngsters will be more inclined to stay loyal and that’s how to reform a club. In fact before their Senior Cup tie with Johnston the Angle team photo could have been mistaken for a junior team – if it wasn’t for keeper Thomas himself being in it.

Most hard done by: Tenby

Any number of clubs can lay claim to this. Goodwick United had a cup double in their sights, failed floodlights and then Covid-19 prevented Monkton and Carew from playing for a place in the Senior Cup final, and many other teams potentially missed out on silverware. But while I’d argue Broad Haven 2nds were worthy winners of Division 4 given they won at Tenby, and the Seasiders will still be promoted as runners up regardless, to miss out on a title by an average of 0.07 is a sickener.

Biggest sigh of relief: Saundersfoot Sports

No one starts the season wanting to go down, but remaining in the league on a technicality can often be detrimental long term - especially when you’ve endured the campaign Saundersfoot did. Bottom of Division 1 with a single point, and a goal difference of minus 91, isn’t fun for anyone and motivating players for another top flight season after that would not have been easy. Having their relegation confirmed would have been met with a sigh of relief and now they can try and rebuild in the second tier.

This is one instance where I’m not sure a great escape would have been celebrated.

Biggest own goal?

Ah yeah, that would be me. Wrongly thinking I’d uncovered the West Wales Cup draw on Twitter, putting it out there, and then realising I was looking at the previous season. Took some thoroughly deserved flak for that.

As for the predictions, was nice to hear from you all when they went badly wrong (never much when they were correct of course!). Next season, whenever that may be, I’ll be asking club representatives themselves to partake. See how easy it is then hey lads?

We'll meet again:

But anyway, stay fit (and safe), and of course thanks to the Pembrokeshire League committee, and all club contacts, who helped with coverage last season.

I won’t sign off with see you all soon, that may be optimistic, but hopefully sometime before 2021 we can get back to the disputed offside goals, ding dongs on social media, and players losing it because they have to wait until midday on a Saturday to hear if their game is on or off.

Bring back the normality.