Hopes are high for Spennymoor Town FC this week as they prepare for one of the biggest games in their history.
This Sunday the squad will go head-to-head with Chorley FC in the Vanarama National League North play-off final.
With their sights set on a promotion to the National League, this week players were in training at the SRC Sports Centre in Billingham.
Spennymoor Town manager Jason Ainsley said: “It’s a big week for us, but it has been a part of the course over the last few weeks. We haven’t had time to blink really.”
Looking back at the play-offs so far, he said: “We had the eliminator against Bradford Park Avenue which was a horrendous game. A big crowd, nearly 2000 and we didn’t perform anywhere near our capabilities, but a moment of magic from a Hartlepool United lad we have on loan, Lewis Hawkins, scored us an absolute wonder goal and won us the game.
“Then we have gone to Brackley and I don’t think many people apart from ourselves and the supporters felt we would get anything out of that game and we have come away with a clean sheet and winning on penalties, which was just a monumental effort when at one stage it looked like we were going out. Unbelievable scenes down in Brackley, it was one of those pinch yourself moments, it will long live in the memory of everyone that was down there.”
Now getting ready for the final at the weekend, Jason said: “We have a really good group of lads and a really strong management team collectively, we have come a long way and we don’t want it to stop.”
With a thousand supporters travelling to Chorley on Sunday, he said: “We have one opportunity on Sunday to make history for the club.”
A base for the club’s winter training, Jason described the SRC Sports Centre, its manager Dave Morgan and the adjoining Bede Sixth Form, all as part of the extended team.
He said: “When we met Dave we knew straight away this facility was going to benefit us and it certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“We haven’t missed a training session here. Our performance on the pitch has improved with good facilities, good coaching and the players enjoy coming to the gym.”
He added: “It has been a good partnership and Dave and the College have been on that journey with us.
“If we do get to that promised land of the National League on Sunday, it is not just down to the team on the pitch, it is also the team off the pitch that has played a big part in that. Bede Sixth Form has certainly been a part of that.”
Wishing the club luck on Sunday, SRC Sports Centre manager Dave said: “It is fantastic to have Spennymoor Town choose to train here and it is testament to the quality of the facilities we have.
“The links that we have made with the club are amazing. We are immensely proud to think that here at the centre we may have played even a very small part in their success.”