On Thursday 26th March 2020, the Football Association have confirmed that is has ended the Step 1-7 game and all grassroots football leagues and competition under its umbrella as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which means that the debut season of Hype Train Football Club has come to an end, in the most unforeseen way possible. All aboard.
The FA's Statement on ending the 2019/20 Season:
"The NLS (National League Systems) and the women’s football pyramid were able to build a consensus amongst their leagues and, where possible, aimed to create a consistent approach across all leagues, whilst taking into account the unique characteristics of each individual league.
As a result, The FA and NLS steps three to six have reached a consensus that their 2019-20 season will now be brought to an end, and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS steps three to six, and no promotion to NLS step two.
These decisions will also apply to the leagues and clubs who play at NLS step seven.
We will continue to assist and support the National League (NLS steps one and two) to determine the outcome of its 2019-20 season as quickly as possible. The planned implementation of the restructure of the NLS will also now be deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season.
Furthermore, we can now confirm that we have decided that all grassroots football is concluded for the 2019-20 season. This will allow the game to move forward and to commence planning for next season. Our County Football Associations (CFAs) will be supporting grassroots leagues over the coming days to determine how they should close out their current competitions.
Where appropriate, the above decisions will be put to The FA Council for ratification.
Throughout this period we continue to seek guidance in respect of the government’s financial support packages relative to COVID-19 and how they are applicable to clubs in the NLS, the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game."
Hype Train FC's 2019 Season:
For our maiden season we entered the East Berkshire Football League in the league's third tier, Division 2, remaining unbeaten in the competition (4W, 3D, 0L) and had the division's best defensive record, conceding only 7 goals. Alongside scoring 14 goals, we didn't receive a single caution or sin-bin during the course of our brief and fleeting league campaign.
A large bulk of the club's efforts were concentrated on an excellent cup run in the Berks & Bucks FA Junior Cup - a county cup competition featuring all grassroots teams outside of the top division of registered leagues. Entering in the first round, we went on a 5-game run to the quarter-finals before our eventual elimination away in Milton Keynes against Hanslope FC Reserves on January 25th 2020.
The squad also qualified for the semi-finals of the Ascot & Fielden Charity Cup after beating AFC Cressex 5-2 away from home, whilst we were also due to face FC Beaconsfield at home in the Last 16 of the EBFL League Cup, and were among the title challengers in EBFL Division 2.
Our last match of the season was on Saturday 14th March and saw the squad eliminated from the EBFL Presidents Cup in the first round against Phoenix Old Boys at Calcot Recreation Ground in a 3-2 defeat.
Thoughts from General Secretary and Club Manager, Robert Austin:
"The final nail in the coffin for our season was a mere formality given the on-going Coronavirus pandemic, and this was always the correct decision to make. Football for me means absolutely everything, though a very close second is the health and well-being of everyone in the public, so even though there is a great disappointment that the season has ended the way it has, it was done for the greater good of our society.
Having poured everything into getting Hype Train FC off the ground, there is of course a sombre tone to how this season has ended. We enjoyed some brilliant cup runs and comeback wins and were in a good position to win our league and get to a cup final - I know my squad are absolutely devastated by what is going on as we had the belief and desire that we would end our maiden season in football with the chance of some silverware, but mother nature has decided otherwise.
I'd just to take this opportunity to thank every single member of my squad for the hard work they've put into making this dream of owning a football club into a reality. We've endured a lot this season, from games being called off on a weekly basis to our training facility being torn up and upgraded, costing us a lot of playing time. They've all believed in my vision and I am nothing but humbled by all those who have come to a training session or have put on the shirt throughout the course of the season.
I'd also like to give a special mention to my twin brother, Sam Austin, who has been at my side this entire time doing all the thankless jobs associated with running a club, as well as a big thank you to both Alex O'Keeffe and Rod Stevens for their massive support this season - running a club is no easy task and they've both been big support structures this season that have helped the club on and off the field.
This season has been a huge learning curve, not only for me but for the players too. We've started to gel well as a unit and will kick on stronger, whenever government restrictions are relaxed and we're able to get back to playing, we'll relish the opportunity to make the 2020/21 season one to remember."
Want to know more about The Hype Train?
The Hype Train is an entertainment website founded in 2015, specialising in Fantasy sports reporting, starting with Fantasy Premier League (FPL), before expanding to MLS Fantasy coverage in 2018.
We pride ourselves in providing beautiful graphics, statistics, in-depth analytical reporting and free weekly insight for hopeful players attempting to climb rankings tables. We are also occasional media reviewers, with a keen interest to review games, live sport, and professional wrestling.
In 2019, Hype Train Football Club was formed, becoming the first Fantasy Football website to take to the field. HTFC is a socially active team across social and web channels, providing regular match highlights, match reports, comprehensive player statistics and unique player profiles.
The Hype Train were nominated and shortlisted for the 'Best Football Blog' in 2016 by the Football Bloggers Association at their annual Football Blogging Awards (The FBA's), and were again shortlisted as a finalist in 2019 in the 'Best Fantasy Football Blog' category.