Paul Marshall hailed Tadcaster Albion’s “remarkable story” of the 2013/14 season after his merry men reached 97 points in their final match.
Having been left in financial obscurity two weeks before the season when chairman Rob Northfield left the club, Albion turned their fortunes around with a mesmeric 24-match unbeaten streak.
The arrival of new owners i2i Sports helped the Tadcaster outfit maintain their push for promotion. But their hopes were eventually crushed by champions Brighouse Town last week. Saturday’s 4-0 win at Liversedge completed the Brewers’ campaign as they finished as runners-up in NCEL Premier.
Marshall said: “It has been one of the great achievements. From where we were to where we finished up, it’s a remarkable story for Tadcaster Albion.
“I don’t think anyone could have envisaged it. I am so proud.”
Albion’s season included 29 victories as they finished just four points adrift of leaders Brighouse Town.
Carl Stewart hit a hat-trick as Albion rounded off the season in style, with strike partner Calum Ward also on target.
Stewart’s treble took the striker’s tally to a menacing 35 for the season. But it was the defensive stability that Marshall saluted for transforming them into title contenders.
With Matt Sparkes and Denny Ingram both instrumental, Tad celebrated the meanest defence in the league.
They kept 17 clean sheets and only conceded 48 goals in the 44 matches, 13 of which were conceded in two games against Brighouse (eight) and Basford United (five).
“As an ex-defender, I always like to see a clean sheet,” remarked Marshall.
The gaffer was still holding out hope that Albion’s 97 points will provide enough lee-way for the Northern Counties league to promote them.
Only Brighouse are scheduled to go up to the Evo-Stik Northern First Division North. But financial trouble at Cammell Laird, Wakefield and Southern side Eastwood Town have left questions to the make up of the league next year. And Marshall does not believe relegated Evo-Stik outfit Ossett Albion should be given a stay of execution after totalling just 27 points.
“I don’t feel that is enough for another reprieve,” he said.
“It’s not sour grapes. It’s just the right thing for league to do to keep standards as high as possible. If you keep giving teams that finish in relegation another year, it doesn’t improve the league.”
The boss also said Tad would be happy to play in the Southern section of the Evo-Stik leagues if an opportunity presented itself.
“Whatever happens, it would be nice to know sooner rather than later,” he added.
l Albion host their presentation day and club barbecue at the 2inspire Stadium this Saturday from 3pm. All supporters are welcome.