Success can be a double-edged sword
The Ridgeons Premier League title race looks to be a three way tussle between Dereham Town, Leiston and Wroxham - all battling to be the team who has their name engraved on the trophy come May. Along with the coveted title, the teams get a chance to progress up the non-league pyramid into potentially the Isthmian Division One North/South.
Some teams choose to take the step up and test themselves at a higher level. This obviously has many advantages, for example; the ability to attract a higher standard of footballer and that the team will potentially earn more money from being higher up in England's non-league structure.
Evidently, there is also the danger that the team will be too far out of their depth and suffer heavy defeat after heavy defeat which could ruin the football club. The two most recent teams to take the leap into the Isthmian Division One setup have been Lowestoft Town and Needham Market. Both teams have noticed instant success.
As a result of their promotion in 2009 Lowestoft Town managed to attract some big name players to Crown Meadow, such as ex-Norwich City and Nottingham Forest midfielder Gary Holt and former Peterborough full-back Adam Smith. This led to The Trawler Boys easing to the Isthmian Division One North Championship with over 100 points, earning promotion to the Isthmian Premier (only three promotions away from League Two). The Blues currently sit sixth in the table, but will be joint top if they win all their games in hand.
Last season's Ridgeon's Premier Division champions Needham Market have also found life in the Isthmian set up easy, currently sitting fourth in the league, but having played up to six fewer games than some of the sides above them they are in an extremely strong position.
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Probably the most successful example of a team gaining promotion from the Ridgeon's Premier is that of Histon, the champions in 2000 found themselves two games away from League football in 2007. Steve Fallon's men progressed through three leagues in seven years but failed at the final hurdle, with a Blue Square Premier Play-off semi-final defeat to Torquay United.
Whoever lifts the trophy at the end of the season will have a huge decision to make, but all the signs seem to be saying that choosing to go up is the right decision and testing yourself against the best is the way forward.
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