Worksop Town boss Mark Shaw believes the Tigers can go one step better next season and regain their Northern Premier League status.
And, despite disappointment at the departure of keeper Jon Stewart to Bradford Park Avenue this week, Shaw is hard at work putting together a squad he feels will be capable of achieving their target.
Against all the odds, Worksop pushed hard all the way for promotion from the Northern Counties East League Premier Division after the turmoil of last summer when owner Jason Clark left the club and, amid a financial crisis, they had to resign from the NPL.
The club survived and thrived with a real sense of community and ‘spirit of the Blitz’, though ultimately had to settle for second place.
However, Shaw said: “Last season felt like a dress rehearsal for next season and we now want to go one better.
“Things are a lot further on now than they were last year and we have a realistic opportunity to achieve our goals.
“We are not here to make up the numbers now, we want to stamp our authority on the division and build a young squad that is developing all the time.
“The players are coming in for a meeting this week to discuss pre-season and what we want them to do in the off-season.
“I am doing my business quietly, things are being done behind closed doors. But I am close to getting the people I want and it’s great that the majority of players here want to stay and have another crack at it.”
One player who won’t be involved is keeper Jon Stewart, who has moved up three levels to join Bradford Park Avenue.
“He’s a great goalie,” said Shaw. “I’ve brought him to the club twice and looked after him. I have invested a lot of time and energy into him as a player. So I am a bit disappointed.
“But football isn’t about loyalty, it’s about moving up the ladder and more money. It happens at the top level so it is bound to happen at the lower levels as well.”
Shaw said the level of support the club has had since last summer’s crisis has been ‘ almost surreal’ and added: “A lot of people put in an unbelievable amount of work in the club’s time of need and the town’s hour of need.
“People were spending their spare time fund-raising, raising membership or increasing the club’s profile.
“From councillors, public figures, famous sportspeople and former England managers down to local schoolkids – they all pulled together and it is a hell of a story when you look at it.
“I don’t know of any other club or town that would actually back its club to that extent to help it survive.
“It’s almost surreal. Last year was about survival and being able to achieve. Next season is about repaying all the hard work of those people. I feel lucky to have so many good people around the club.
“No one expected us to do anything this season other than stay in the division. We didn’t have a team before the season started. But it just all snowballed into something quite special in the end and fair play to the players.
“Next season we want to take it a step further and show all the hard work has been well worth it.”