Paul Malone knows Corby Town won’t be going into the Vanarama National League North next season just to “make up the numbers”.
The popular central defender had his season cut short after suffering a horrific double leg break during the Steelmen’s 5-1 victory over Weymouth at Steel Park back in February.
But, in general, he was there every step of the way as his team-mates went on to claim the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division title.
Malone, who started the season as captain before Cleveland Taylor took the armband, was at Poole Town on the final day to see the Steelmen seal a dramatic 3-2 victory to wrap up the title.
From his point of view, the season was very much “bittersweet” but he expressed his delight for everyone at the club following the rebuilding job that took place when a consortium of local businessmen took over at Steel Park at the end of the last campaign.
“Overall, the season was very bittersweet for me but I have stayed part of it and the boys made sure I stayed part of it, which was great,” Malone said.
“There was no-one more delighted for the lads and the people behind the scenes than me because I know how hard everyone has worked.
“The club was in a position at the end of last season where it was just fighting to stay alive.
“But we have had an amazing season and the crowds have gone up, which comes from winning matches and having that feel-good factor around the place.
“I am sure Tommy (manager Wright) won’t be going into next season just to make up the numbers, he will want to show everyone that Corby is a club that is moving forward.”
Malone’s recovery from his injury is very much on the right road and he is now able to walk without the aid of crutches, a fact shown as he watched on during that final-day showdown at Poole.
And while he insists he “doesn’t want to rush it” he wants to make sure he is back and ready to make the step up with the rest of the squad for next season.
“The rehab has been going well of late,” Malone added.
“I am walking on it now and it’s only been 11 weeks since my operation so I would say I am doing pretty well.
“I don’t want to come back too early. I have the target in my head of when I want to be back but I don’t want to rush it.
“It is part and parcel of football. I never thought something like that could happen to me, you think you are invincible.
“But I am doing things every day and I have great people around me who are helping with it.
“There is a lot of work for me to and now, with the club going into a higher level, I know I am going to have to up my game as well.”
Don’t miss our eight-page ‘Promotion Party’ pull-out as we celebrate the success of our local clubs. Only in this week’s Corby Telegraph, which is out now