McCollin at the double, helps K’s back onto winning trail
“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. If they don't, they never were” - Khalil Gibran
Where were you when you heard Andre McCollin had returned to K's? I woke on Saturday morning to excited emails [“Wake up! Huge development!], manic tweets [“woah!!! Well done the Board!”] and text messages which included the [sometimes dreaded] words “Check Kcom...” A much-loved striker about to make Kingsmeadow his home once again? A player who could transform 2016 into promotion-glory? A forward we've missed and lamented for months? Having got over the initial disappointment of not seeing an announcement featuring Steve Butterworth's name, the news couldn't have been greater: Andre McCollin was back.
When he left in October 2014, no one had a bad word to say. Two years and 59 goals for K's, countless man of the match performances and that flip-flap-trick at home to Hendon: more than that, we liked Andre. In fact, we loved him. And he loved us. Moss was merely a lusty regret when set against this deeper affection. Andre had got a big move to Conference National Aldershot, a full-time contract and deserved the chance of a higher stage. We waved him goodbye and hoped – secretly, quietly, longingly - that one day he would return...
As the months went by, he made 27 appearances for the Shots [scoring four goals] and was regularly the most potent outlet in a struggling team, including two appearances live on TV. We'd check the team-sheets and the Aldershot forums. He was doing well. We were happy for him.
But when manager Andy Scott was sacked, Andre was unluckily shown the door too before making a move to Cray Wanderers this summer. Now, out of the blue, Tommy Williams has wooed him back. Maybe it didn't take all that much wooing. Even while at the Recreation Ground, Andre has visited K's for the occasional home game. Maybe he missed us just like we missed him.
Saturday's cold trip to Burgess Hill Town, a confused suburb of Gatwick Airport and/or Brighton, suddenly took on a new importance. If Andre was back, then... anything was possible. Pico and Andre linking upfront. Bennett and Andre interchanging. Harold and Andre marauding. Peter Dean and Andre... dancing to 90s House. All of these things we had to see.
Or would he return jaded and diminished, a player and a man somehow changed?
Within three minutes at Leylands Park, we had the answer. A neat Pico through-ball, Andre racing clear and a hard, low strike under Josh James for the opening goal. In a season of few bundles, Andre immediately ran to the K's fans behind the goal. “We missed you, Andre!” I cried as Andre shouted “Come on!” and 6 or 7 of us mobbed him with hugs. He was ours. He'd never stopped being ours.
It didn't matter that Burgess Hill equalised on 23 minutes when Sam Fisk rifled in after a half-cleared cross. It didn't matter that Tolfrey was forced to make three superb saves thereafter. None of it really mattered. Because Andre was back and everything was going to be OK. He was going to score again. We were going to win. We were going to get promoted. We were going to find a new ground. And we were going to find happiness.
Ten minutes later, Andre hit a Pico knock-down first-time on the volley into the net to make it 2-1. Another bundle ensued. [“Never bundle in the first-half!”, we had condescendingly sung at Dorchester Town's exuberant support late last year, though K's fans have never denied being hypocrites]. This was what K's would be like from now on. Inevitable, ineluctable victory.
The second period was comfortingly dull, only enlivened when George Wells hit the bar from 30 yards, Andre headed the rebound into a dangerous area and Pico opened up his body to side-foot home. “We love you too, Pico!” we shouted, just in case he was feeling left out. It was that kind of day.
The game ended and there was only one thing to sing: “Andre McCollin, ooooooooooooooooohhhhh yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah....”
[ps. See you at Leiston on Wednesday night – because the biggest news of the day was that, due to Cray not even entering the league cup, McCollin is NOT Turvey-tied...](Ed: I think that's the case, but it's something we're checking.)
Match report by Taimour Lay.