“IF the season ends tomorrow, then we’ll have achieved everything that we set out to.”

Wayne Goodison said those words to me more than a week before 1874 Northwich went to Leighton Town to play an FA Vase quarter-final in which they prevailed on Saturday.

Initially, it seemed strange.

After all, the team he manages jointly with Paul Bowyer remains in contention to win three knockout competitions – they are still in the Macron League Cup and the Mid-Cheshire District FA Senior Cup too – and have more than half of their league games to play.

But the scene long before kick-off in Bedfordshire, where there were at least as many supporters from Cheshire as locals in the crowd, perhaps served to illustrate his point.

Some had arrived at Bell Close early, and proceeded to drape green and white flags on the pitch-side barriers.

A cup run can be transformative, of course, and the timing of this one – and a run to the FA Cup third qualifying round earlier in the campaign – has been perfect.

Following a 1-0 win that has sent 1874 to the semi-finals, short video clips were shared by the co-manager on social media of jubilant players singing songs created for them by those same fans.

Perhaps the biggest triumph of Goodison and Bowyer, who picked a team for the 50th time ahead of a midweek derby with Runcorn Linnets, has been to reconnect the team with its followers.

And don’t forget; more than 200 of them co-own the club.

To suggest that 1874 were drifting when their latest bid to be promoted from the North West Counties League last year faltered is unfair.

Indeed it is natural for initial enthusiasm after their formation to have dissipated after four seasons.

Bowyer and Goodison, themselves connected to former manager Ian Street who they served as an assistant, have constructed a team that combines old and new.

It wins often, which helps, and is fun to watch.

Of note too is the fact that on this very week 12 months ago, 1874 lost meekly at Atherton Collieries in a league game with plenty riding on it.

“I feel numb,” Street told me after the final whistle.

He resigned a fortnight later.

The contrast in mood at Leighton was stark.

That resonates with Bowyer and Goodison, present in the dressing room at both games, and they deserve credit for resetting the tone.

Of course the club’s biggest conundrum, and subject of a heated debate at their annual meeting in November, remains how they can move from a base in Winsford to their home-town.

There is no simple solution, even if hosting a handful of fixtures at Witton has been a successful experiment.

But 1874 Northwich have entered a second phase in their early history, one tinted with melancholy because of Paul Stockton’s absence from it, with renewed vigour.

The sense is they’re not dependent either on a trip to Wembley to sustain it.