Newark Town win Central Midlands League North title on the final day after nail-biting title race with Retford United, Thorne Colliery and Clay Cross Town
Newark Town have won promotion from the Central Midlands League North for the first time since joining the step seven division in 2004.
Typically, the Blues won the league — and promotion to step six — in dramatic fashion having lost 1-0 at Glapwell on the final day, meaning they needed Retford United to take points from title rivals Thorne Colliery, in a game that was being played simultaneously.
Town manager Nathan Arnold said it was release of emotions when his squad realised they were champions, with Thorne losing 4-1 at Retford.
“We lost the game, but we ended up finding out the final result between Retford and Thorne at full-time because we made it clear that we didn’t want their game to leak around the ground,” he said.
“But when the news broke through it was a release of emotions because it has been a long, hard season.
“I said at the beginning of the season, when I didn’t have a huge awareness of the teams in the area at this level, that whoever finished above Thorne would win the league — and it turned out that way.”
Town finished on 83 points, two points clear of second-placed Retford United and third-placed Thorne, who were joint on 81 points and separated by goal difference.
Clay Cross Town, who also had the title in their hands in the closing weeks, finished fourth on 77 points.
Due to the Central Midlands League being split into a North and South division, only one team, the champions, can win promotion.
This differs to the other local step seven league — the Notts Senior League — where both the champions and second place have the chance to earn promotion.
“There have been four very competitive teams [going for the title] this season, and then you have your Harworths and Glapwells outside of that,” said Arnold.
“There are strong teams at this level, and it makes it all the more sweeter knowing that this is how we have earned promotion.”
“I had 80 points down as the target for the title — and we exceeded that.”
Arnold said the title win would be a huge boost for the town, as well as the football club.
He also said that the journey to the title was just as enjoyable as winning it.
“No team had ever stretched away at any point,” Arnold highlighted.
“It has never been a foregone conclusion, right until the bitter end.
“In reflection, the title deserved to go down to the wire between us all.
“It is an injustice that only one team can go up, but we are proud to be the team that did it.”
He said an added pressure during the campaign — which could see Town complete the double should they beat rivals Retford in the Notts Senior Trophy tonight — was the fixture schedule.
“It has been out of our control at times with some teams playing more games than us, which adds that extra pressure when it comes to getting three points at the weekend,” he said.
“It has been relentless all year, but the hard work has paid off.
“We had three recognised players in our first league game from the side that finished the season the year before, so you can see how much work has gone in.
“I want to recognise the commitment levels and the sacrifices that have been made to get us to this point, and it is the togetherness in this squad that has ultimately got us over the line.
“Even though we haven’t had experience (eight players in the squad are aged 20 and under), the enthusiasm, desire and determination has been there all season.
“To have a dressing room that will give you everything week-in, week-out, sums up our group.
“I can only ask for that as a manger.”
Arnold, who comes across as a perfectionist in his work when detailing his game plans, revealed he had two other targets — other than the title — going into the final game, which his side didn’t achieve.
Though, given his team won the title, he was happy to look past it.
“We had only conceded nine away goals all season, and we wanted to keep it in single figures,” said Arnold.
“We didn’t achieve that.
“I asked the players if we could get to 100 league goals too, because we were on 98, but with the outcome on the day you can’t be mad.
“You can only praise the players for their achievement with how competitive the league was."
Town play in the Notts Senior Trophy cup final tonight.