THEY already had a cup final win to savour, but now Winsford Town’s inaugural season has been capped with promotion.

A 5-1 win over Pilkington FC’s under 23s on Saturday secured the second and final Cheshire League Two promotion spot for the team, who are managed by former Winsford United and Witton Albion striker Rob Hopley.

He scored twice on Saturday as Town beat the already-crowned league champions and reflected upon what has been a truly special campaign, with the club having already beaten higher-ranked neighbours Middlewich Town to win the Mid-Cheshire District Cup.

“At the very start our main objective as a club was to win promotion, but I felt around November/December time that had changed and the objective was to be in with a real shout of winning the league,” Hopley told the Guardian.

“It became a four-horse race halfway through the season with ourselves, Pilkington, Clay Brow and Stretford Paddock battling it out at the top for the league.

“In a way, I was disappointed we didn’t win it – being honest, the squad just wasn’t quite big enough to cope with the big injury list we had and fair play to Pilks for winning 12 on the bounce to take the title at the end.

“The injury list just took its toll against Haydock away and Lymm at home and we just couldn’t quite get over the line to make it a double.

“The win over Middlewich in the cup final was huge for the club – our first ever trophy and to cap it all, we took a fantastic following there with hundreds supporting us and spilling onto the pitch at the end to celebrate to celebrate with the players.

“I think the key ingredient was there was so much experience in the squad to be in and around the kids we were bringing through from the under 16s, 17s and 18s teams of Winsford Town.

“All of them Winsford lads helped as there was so much togetherness in the squad, we really did have a fantastic changing room.

“We needed the experienced lads but we needed the legs too and the kids were phenomenal from start to finish, really taking on board what we wanted from them as stepping up from youth football to men’s football straight away is not easy at all.”

Northwich Guardian: WinsfordTown secured promotion by thrashing champions Pilington 5-1 in front of a big crowd at Winsford Academy on SaturdayWinsfordTown secured promotion by thrashing champions Pilington 5-1 in front of a big crowd at Winsford Academy on Saturday (Image: @g.mooresportsnaturephotography)

Promotion was secured in the final game of the season having moved into a position where they cannot be caught by third-placed Clay Brow, who still have two games to play.

Their league campaign has seen them lose just five times all season, while 28 goals conceded saw them possess the division’s best defensive record.

As Hopley mentioned, the club have had some strong support at their home games this season, which have largely been played at Winsford Academy and a large following supported them at the Mid-Cheshire cup final.

As such, he feels this season is just the very start for the club.

“Some of the away trips we’ve been on, when we’ve took a coach load of fans to St Helens, Heswall and Clay Brow, have been something special for our first ever season,” he said.

“The players and management have really appreciated all that support throughout.

“A lot of the support has come from people seeing that there is now a clear pathway for kids in Winsford, from under 6s right through to under 18s, the reserves and the first team.

“Hopefully over time, this club will find the right venue to run and grow from and the fan base will double – I’ve no doubt about that.

“It’s just the start but already you can tell the club can go places.”

And what about for Hopley himself, a mainstay on the local football scene thanks to his spells higher up the pyramid?

He admits to perhaps playing more than he planned to this season but says he will keep putting the boots on if the team needs him.

“The plan at the start was not too play that much if I’m being honest – maybe the odd game at centre half to help with experience on the pitch,” he said.

“But with injuries and the shape we were playing, it became apparent to myself and the staff that I needed to get back out there and help out a bit more on the pitch, especially at the top end where we were a little short.

“Next season, we’ll have to see – obviously it will depend on who we will be able to get in.

“A striker is always the hardest position to find as everyone needs a goalscorer if you want to be successful and it’s no different at this level.

“If I feel I can still bring something to the team then of course, I’ll think about carrying on & scoring a few!”