Glossop North End completed their league campaign with a 1-0 victory over nearest rivals Runcorn Linnets, ensuring that they took the ‘Champions’ mantle with a ten point victory, scoring 100 goals, and securing 102 points in the process.
If you add in the expunged 8-0 and 6-0 victories over Stockport Sports, it makes for and extraordinary season.
The bedrock of that success has been the 23 (or 25, if you count Sports’ games) clean sheets.
The defence conceded just 23 goals in 42 games, which is an extraordinary effort by the back line.
It is on that strong foundation that the team will now go on to try and secure two cups to add to their league trophy.
It will have been a difficult afternoon for the Linnets, but you would not have known it.
They welcomed their fierce rivals for the title with warm congratulations from start to finish – although of course no quarter was asked or given on the pitch.
Runcorn should know that in most seasons their record of 30 wins and just four defeats would be enough, but North End’s season has been out of the ordinary.
Last year GNE had to watch Norton United celebrate on the last day of the season at Surrey Street, and it motivated them.
No doubt that will form part of Linnets’ spur in 2015-16. They’ll be right up there again.
The game itself hinged on two moments.
Late in the first half Linnets were awarded a penalty after Kevin Towey was impeded in the box, but Greg Hall guessed correctly, saving Michael White’s spot kick to his right.
The rebound fell to White, but all the centre half could do was blast it over the bar.
On 65 minutes good work down the right led to a floated cross that gave Ben Richardson time to pick his spot for a header into the corner of the net, well out of the reach of the keeper for what turned out to be the winning goal.
Both sides had missed half chances up until that point, but afterwards North End took a hold of the game, spurning more opportunities to double their lead.
After a couple of defeats post-sealing the title they were in no mood to be stung again, and the match demonstrated the team’s sheer will to win when they are determined enough.
The defence, protected by a well-organised midfield, gave Linnets little joy in going forward once they’d gone in front.
One player’s frustration boiled over near the end when Linnets’ Michael Duffy, apparently due to retire at the end of the game, was sent off for biting less than five minutes after coming on as a substitute.
However, this was an unusual moment in a game that had been tough but fair.
The Hillmen now have two Cup finals to close their season, with their main target already secured in style.
On Thursday they take on Atherton Collieries at the Tameside Stadium for the MEN United Cup.
Then comes the big one at Wembley - the FA Vase final on May 9.