Jubliant Midgley United boss Craig Gee is surprised and delighted at how well his club has turned things round following relegation two years ago.
Midgley bounced back by winning the Division One title in the Haslem-Sheppard Halifax AFL last season and have followed up by becoming Premier Division champions this time.
Midgley recovered from the shock of a going a goal down after 20 minutes to beat visitors Greetland 3-1 last Saturday and get the point they needed to fight off persistent challengers Stump Cross.
They followed up with a 5-2 success at home to Sowerby United on Wednesday when Greg Spink’s 25-yarder was the highlight.
Against Greetland, Adam Oldfield’s well-struck half-volley from distance set nerves jangling in the home camp but two goals in five minutes in the run up to half time put Midgley in command last Saturday.
George Bamford produced a smart finish from a narrow angle and a Callum Rogers header made it 2-1.
Midgley looked composed in the second half and Tom Booth got a clincher midway through it from Liam Brook’s threaded pass.
Gee praised Stump Cross for keeping the title race alive for so long and said there had been a “massive turnaround” after the low point of relegation two years ago
Gee said the arrivals of Jonny Cockroft and Nick Farrar behind the scenes had helped as Midgley rebuilt.
“When we went down a lot of players moved on and we had to go out shopping,” he said. “We picked up eight players and five of them were playing for reserve teams. But they have always been willing to train hard, improve and learn.”
Gee added: “At the beginning of the season the first aim was to stay up.
“Deep down I thought we had a chance of finishing in the top three or four but we were still building for the future.
“Everyone was talking about Stump and Ryburn and we were under the radar.
“But we won seven of our first eight and then beat Stump at home. By then we had built up a massive amount of confidence and belief.”
Saturday’s other big winners in the top flight were Copley United, who beat Shelf United 4-1 in the battle to determine who was relegated.
Copley looked out for the count not so long since but three wins on the bounce means a second season in the Premier for last term’s Division One runners-up.
Shelf took the lead in the first 10 minutes through James Andrew and went on to dominate the first half, playing with the breeze at Savile Park. However, Copley stayed strong and kept it at 1-0.
It was a different tale in the second half as Copley over-powered the visitors.
Skipper Paul Drake and Lee Worrall scored within five minutes of the restart and a Jack Teasdale corner went into the top corner with a touch from the Shelf ‘keeper.
Copley dominated the rest of the game and man of the match Jack Teasdale got the final goal.
Midgley have finished five points clear of Stump Cross, who drew 2-2 at Holmfield, while deposed champions Elland United have finished very strongly in third, Mark Kelsey scoring four of their goals in a 7-3 home win over Calder ‘76.
In Division One, the only issue of importance to be resolved on Saturday was who would finish next-to-bottom.
Halifax Irish pushed Stainland United into that slot by winning 4-3 at Ryburn United Reserves with goals from Luke Holmes (two), Carl Eastwood and Sam Starsmore.
Hebden Royd Red Star, already champions, lost their unbeaten record for the season when Nick Green scored twice in a 3-2 win for hosts Salem, who snatched fifth place.
Runners-up Sowerby Bridge reduced the final margin to three points with a 5-4 win away to Volunteer Arms, Daniel Picton (Volunteer) and Richard Hirst (Bridge) each scoring a brace.
Greetland Reserves denied Warley Rangers Reserves second place in Division Two with a 3-1 home win over Midgley United Reserves. Goals from Oliver Jefferson, Ellis Dixon and Scott McHale did the trick.