The writing has been on the wall for a year or more but the North Ferriby United fairytale is finally at an end.
Relegation from National League North was confirmed in spite of an excellent 1-1 draw with big-spending Salford City, but the hardy supporters in attendance at the Eon Visual Stadium have long since been braced for the moment. Once the ultimate non-league underdog, lifting the FA Trophy when beating Wrexham at Wembley less than three years ago, the Villagers are now on a rapid retreat back down the league ladder.
The good times are officially over and the strong suspicion is that they will not be coming back. No sooner were Ferriby celebrating promotion to the National League when beating AFC Fylde in May 2016, a second relegation inside 12 months has sent them back to the Northern Premier League for 2018-19.
A slender band of hard core supporters will tell you it was wonderful fun while it lasted – and last night’s unlikely result was a stirring extension of the outsiders’ tale – but there are too many doubts over the long-term future for this second relegation to genuinely sting.
The arrival of Jamie Waltham as owner in November, succeeding Steve and Eman Forster, has raised significant question marks over the direction Ferriby take from here. Waltham has made it clear the Villagers are currently “unsustainable” as a club and has raised the unpalatable prospect of transferring the Ferriby’s league standing to another Hull-based club.
Where that leaves Ferriby remains unclear but the only thing certain is that the fifth – or even sixth – tier of English football will not be seen again any time soon.
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