Captain’s View: Richard Bunting’s weekly look inside The Walks
- Credit: IAN BURT
It seems forever since we clinched the title at home against Sheffield and the past week or so has been a busy one with two games and a few celebrations taking place along the way.
It was always going to be a long hard season and now it is finally over I can tell you that there are a few tired lads in our changing room – about 18 of them.
After the jubilation of the week's events we travelled to play-off positioned Belper Town for our final league game of the campaign on Saturday. Yet again, and it's no surprise to me any more, our fans turned out in vast numbers to support the lads. Come rain or shine they are there and we were able to give them something to cheer about with an exceptional start to the game.
This came after Belper had shown their class by forming a guard of honour for the lads entering the pitch. I can let you know from experience this isn't something that players find that pleasant. I was unfortunate enough to give one to Tolls (Shane Tolley) and DJ (Dan Jacob) when they won the United Counties Premier Division with St Neots Town. It's a mark of respect, though, so fair play to those Belper players for doing it.
Back to the action and it didn't take long for the goal hero from last Tuesday's league-winning game to add to his season's tally. Tolls has been different class for us since he has been at the club. I was aware of his ability to find the back of the net but his all-round play has amazed me.
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It's often said that you don't realise how good someone is until you play with them and this is definitely the case. His three goals at the weekend really showed what he is about. Particularly his second – the header he scored was unbelievable given his size. Not that many players have the ability to rise like he does and he even managed to beat the lad on the post.
We ran out comfortable winners in the end against a side that was made up of fringe players I'm sure – especially with them having one eye on Monday's play-off game against Stamford. Rotating their squad didn't help them in the end, mind, with Stamford winning while Chasetown beat Coalville in the other semi-final. The final sees Stamford host Chasetown tomorrow for a chance to join us at Step Three of the non-league ladder next season.
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The curtain finally fell on our season on Bank Holiday Monday with the Peter Swales Challenge Shield match at home to Skelmersdale United. The visitors were the league winners from the Northern section of the Evo-Stik, the same-level equivalent of the Division One South championship we won.
The match had an end-of-the-season feel about it with the gaffer (Gary Setchell) taking the chance to reward a few of the players who haven't been playing so much recently. I think this was important as it is difficult when you're not playing, so this gave those men the opportunity to get a game and have the chance of getting more silverware before our summer break.
One thing is for sure – I was very thankful that we were the hosts and not them. I believe it took their players five hours to get to The Walks. One thing is for sure, though; that they got to grips with the game and deserved to win.
In my opinion the 6-1 scoreline flattered them, but I thought they were a decent outfit and I think it gave us a taster of what the level of football will be like if we get placed in the Northern Premier Division next year.
Finally, I was in King's Lynn the day before the Skem game and managed to catch the Bespak GEAR 10k run. It was another great example of a sport-crazy town turning out in their thousands to support local runners, with most of them doing the race for a number of great causes.
The gaffer ran for a heart charity (the coronary care unit at Lynn's Queen Elizabeth Hospital). If people saw a very red-headed man complete it in an hour that would have been him. It was lovely to watch him doing the running for a change!
All jokes aside, though, fair play to him for doing it and I know he raised a lot of money (about £700) for a brilliant charity.
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