ALFRETON Town’s Blue Square Bet North title success has to be rated as quite simply the best achievement ever in the club’s 52-year history.
There have been previous title wins and some stirring FA Cup and FA Trophy exploits, but surely nothing can compare with winning the league this time.
Since reforming in 1959, the current club has endured many highs and lows but chairman Wayne Bradley’s vision for the club since taking over 14 years ago has shone through and the area can be extremely proud of having a team in the Conference national division in the 2011/12 campaign.
The Reds will now be rubbing shoulders with a whole host of former Football League clubs including Mansfield Town, Wrexham, Luton Town, Grimsby Town, Cambridge United, York City, Rushden & Diamonds, Kidderminster Harriers and Darlington. On top of that there will be whichever two teams are relegated from npower League Two at the end of the season, Stockport County and Barnet or Lincoln City.
For a town the size of Alfreton - which has a population of less than 25,000 - it is a fantastic achievement, as they have finished top of the pile in a season where they have competed with rival clubs boasting two and three times as much as regular support and financial resources.
Many people felt that Nicky Law’s side should have gone up to last year when they reached the play-off final but they went down 2-1 in the final at Fleetwood Town.
The club as a whole have shown great strength and unity in firmly putting behind them the disappointment of losing out in the play-offs over the past two seasons to clinch the league title and gain promotion to the highest level of the non league pyramid, the Blue Square Bet Premier.
That strength has been severely tested, especially with losing two quality players in Kyle McFadzean and Aden Flint who were transferred to Conference Premier Division champions Crawley Town and Swindon Town respectively at differing stages of the season’s development.
Next season is already a truly a mouth-watering prospect, and although it will bring many challenges both on and off the field, everyone involved deserves the highest accolades for putting the club firmly on the footballing map.