Lowestoft Trawlerboys are leaders of the domestic football pack

Ryman League Premier Division.Play Off Final.Lowestoft Town v AFC Hornchurch at Crown Meadow.Play of

Ryman League Premier Division.Play Off Final.Lowestoft Town v AFC Hornchurch at Crown Meadow.Play off final.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

Lowestoft Town joint boss Ady Gallagher believes the Blues' play-off success eclipses their achievement of playing at Wembley in the FA Vase.

Lowestoft Town joint boss Ady Gallagher believes the Blues' play-off success eclipses their achievement of playing at Wembley in the FA Vase.

Almost 2,700 fans packed into Crown Meadow on Monday to roar their side to promotion against Hornchurch and, for Gallagher, it marked the pinnacle of his time with the club.

'This is bigger than Wembley because we're playing at a much higher level,' said Gallagher, who alongside Micky Chapman, masterminded the club's run to the Vase final in 2008 when they lost to Kirkham & Wesham. 'I felt that this one season was the one where we were most comfortable in every game. We made brave decisions in the summer to change things and bring different people in.

'It took a while and we've had all sorts of problems that stopped us getting in a flow.

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'If everyone had been available that we expected then I think we would have finished higher. Everyone pulled together and despite criticism we came through.'

Gallagher spoke of his pride at seeing the Blues achieve their Conference dream at the fourth time of asking.

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'The boys have been absolutely tremendous to a man,' he said. 'I'm so pleased for the chairman, who has invested so much time along with the committee.

'And of course the supporters – they came in their numbers. They have been disappointed before, but like us they've dusted themselves down and came back fighting again for another year.'

Lowestoft have relied upon a collective belief that has continued to grow since the turn of the year and Gallagher was quietly confident against Hornchurch they could exorcise the ghosts of three play-off final defeats.

'It's taken a while but I always felt really relaxed,' he said. 'I've said all along that I think it's a marvellous achievement to make it to the play-offs. To get to the final was something else but the way we won was in line with the way we finished the season.

'We've shown a lot of guts – they were magnificent and we really put in a full performance again.'

The talking points

Team: Lowestoft

League: Ryman Premier

Position: 4th

For three years Lowestoft Town had promised so much, but delivered so little. A trio of consecutive play-off finals had ended in defeat. It looked like a fourth final was beyond them this season. But an incredible run of form took them to a semi-final at Bognor, which they won 2-1, before beating AFC Hornchurch 3-0 in the final at a packed Crown Meadow.

Team: Gorleston

League: Thurlow Nunn Premier

Position: 4th

The Greens finished fourth – five points behind champions Hadeligh – and but for a wobble in the final few games, might have won the title. It was a place lower than last year, although this time they lost fewer games and earned one more point. Gorleston can end the season with silverware – they face Wroxham in Thursday's Norfolk Senior Cup final at Carrow Road.

Team: Fakenham

League: Thurlow Nunn First Division

Position: 2nd

Runners-up to Whitton United, the Ghosts were a force to be reckoned with all season long. Manager Wayne Anderson has great local knowledge – and has the experienced Neil Jarvis alongside him. There was also success for the reserves, who won Anglian Combination Division Four – strength in depth at a club which has been out of the top flight for too long.

Team: Dereham

League: Ryman North

Position: 7th

One of the best set-ups in local non-league football: on and off the field. Matt Henman led the Magpies into the Ryman set-up for the first time in their history – as recently as 1998 Dereham were in the Anglian Combination and only appeared in the Eastern Counties Premier for the first time in 2002. Henman has built a squad of good, local and very committed talent.

Team: King's Lynn

League: Evo-Stik Premier Division

Position: 11th

An 11th-place position perhaps doesn't tell the whole story. Success has been achieved at regular intervals in recent seasons as the club goes from strength to strength after the financial worries of a few years back. Gary Setchell's team were play-off contenders for a while, but just fell away. Consolation was the reserves winning the Peterborough Premier Division.

Team: Acle Utd

League: Anglian Comb Premier

Position: 1st

The highest-ranked Norfolk team to actually win their league. Acle were able to maintain their hold on the Sterry Cup, having always been in the mix last season. There was a bit of a wobble in November but a haul of 47 points from 54 in their last 18 games sealed the title. A bit of history was made as well as the Ladies team won the ERWFL Division One North title.

Team: Wroxham

League: Ryman North

Position: 22nd

The Yachtsmen won the final game of their season 7-1 – but the damage had already been done, with the club relegated after a dismal campaign. The future is unclear – because Wroxham have yet to be told where they will be playing their football next season. If there is a consolation it is that they are in the Norfolk Senior Cup final, against Gorleston, on Thursday.

Team: Wisbech

League: UCL Premier

Position: 7th

Having opted out of Eastern Counties football, the Fenmen headed west for their weekly fix. Seventh place was respectable, although they might realistically have hoped for better. But once again, Wisbech were involved in a big FA Vase story, rekindling their glory days of semi-finals in 1985 and 1986 by reaching the quarter-finals before going out to Sholing.

Team: Gt Yarmouth

League: Thurlow Nunn First Division

Position: 8th

Times have been tough of late at The Wellesley, but the financial problems which blighted them appear to have been sorted and all was going swimmingly – until Mike Derbyshire was axed after the club took umbrage at some-thing he said. Lee Hackleton took over, but the outside hopes of promotion were always just that. Now the club is advertising for a new manager.

Team: Diss

League: Thurlow Nunn Premier

Position: 18th

The Tangerines finished the season in 18th place – but are still waiting to see whether or not they will be relegated. It was a season when three managers were in charge. They started with Richard Daniels, but he quit in September. His assistant, Chris Tracey, took over, but he left in March, with David Coyle in charge until Mike Derbyshire stepped in. A terrible season.

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