Dean Thomas believes Kettering Town have won back the affection of their fans after an impressive Calor League Division One Central campaign.
The former Hinckley manager stepped down as Poppies boss at the weekend citing the pressures of work as his reason for leaving.
But, despite the club missing out on promotion after their 3-2 play-off final loss to Slough, Thomas believes there is a renewed sense of optimism surrounding Latimer Park after some tough times when supporters maybe lost a little heart.
“There was massive sense of achievement even though, ultimately, we fell at the last hurdle,” he reflected.
“It was a traumatic season. It was not until October that we knew the club was safe and before then it was hard to attract players.
“After that I knew I had to ship a lot of them out and replace them with bigger and better players. The ones that came in early on just weren’t right.
“After the club had survived things changed on the pitch and in the dressing-room.
“I’ve been in the game for a long time and I know how hard it is and how long it can take to build a changing-room - to build that spirit.
“We did it in a very short space of time and it was the whole staff who did their bit and played their part in that happening.
“There was a togetherness there that won us games at times.
“We kept breaking records and that made it a fantastic season.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t to be a successful one in the end.
“To get so close and then miss out made it a bigger disappointment.
“If you had me early in the season that would happen I would have brushed it aside.
“However, when you get there and face the reality of being in with a chance only to have it taken away from you, well it hurts a lot.
“It was obviously tough for everyone and from my point of view it would have been a great achievement in my managerial career.
“But I think we’ve found the fanbase of Kettering Town again.
“Hopefully I’ve played a small part along with all the volunteers and players in helping to achieve that.
“The support has been excellent and if they can continue to back the club then they can go on and on.
“I like to think we proved what a good side we can be.
“I think the base has been built for the club to go on from here. The platform is there to go to the next level.
“I really wish them well and good luck for achieving more and more over the next few years.”