SKIPPER Tony King says the importance of Winnington Park third team's title-winning season should not be underestimated.

Park were 12 points clear of nearest rivals Moore at the top of Halbro Division Five West when the UK was forced into lockdown by the coronavirus pandemic in March, at which point the league declared standings on the table as final.

The season brought remarkable turnaround for the side, considering that the previous campaign only one game was won and at times they struggled to put a full 15 on the field.

“It would have been nice to be crowned champions on the pitch, but in the current climate the celebrations can wait," said King, who replaced the season's new captain Aran Clarke in December following his move away to take up a new job.

"I have to thank Aran for handing me a squad in a good place, and I’m proud that we built on the platform and clinched the title.

"The key for me was having a great blend of young and old players enjoying their rugby.

"I had 25 players available on a Monday night at times, unheard of for a third XV captain!"

He added: "A strong third team is so vital for our club.

"For some it may present the first step into senior rugby.

"We have a lot of talent at under 18s and just below, and I look forward to some of these guys developing with us under the guidance of our more experienced players.

"It’s been a great season and a privilege to lead the team. I look forward to being able to celebrate properly when we are back safely together again.”

The season started steadily, improved availability but with close losses to Port Sunlight and Mersey Police.

However as the side started to settle and formulate an effective structure under coach Steve Berg, the wins started to come.

More importantly the team spirit and squad unity grew, typified by a battling win at Sefton which was probably the best defensive performance of the season.

Park reached the top of the table by the time of Clarke's departure so pressure was on the new skipper.

The last game of 2019 brought a tough away game at Oxton in horrible conditions with a scratch side for his opening game, but a memorable win was achieved.

Into 2020, with great availability the squad pushed on.

Again the highlights were battling away wins, notably at Mersey Police and critically at Linley at the beginning of March.

The team played structured disciplined rugby, built on a good defence and then having the backs to ruthlessly punish the opposition when chances were offered.