Scott Machin and Thomas Baillie hailed a “fantastic” day for Kettering Town as they were crowned champions of the Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central.
The Poppies were beaten 3-0 at play-off chasing Rugby Town but the 900-plus army of Kettering supporters were still able to celebrate the title after second-placed Aylesbury could only draw 0-0 with Aylesbury United.
The fans poured onto the Butlin Road pitch in blazing sunshine to savour the moment with the players as not even a disappointing display on the pitch could dampen the celebrations.
Joint-managers Machin and Baillie can now look forward after delivering what the club and the fans had demanded all season.
And, having seen his team lead the table pretty much from start to finish, Machin believes the Poppies are “worthy champions”.
“It’s over a course of a season and we had done enough before today,” Machin said.
“We are disappointed with the result of course and I don’t think we deserved the result we got.
“It didn’t go for us and maybe they wanted it that bit more, they are desperate for the results to get themselves into the play-offs.
“But it’s fantastic for us. We are worthy champions I think. The pressure has been on since the first session of pre-season training.
“It was clear from the club that they wanted promotion and we have delivered it.
“The players all been fantastic. It’s a very strong squad for the level we are at and every single one of them has done themselves proud.
“Their attitude has been excellent and you need that to be successful.”
Baillie, who was in charge of the club during the dark days of financial strain that almost saw it fold, was equally as happy.
He said: “We have played a lot better than that during the season and, ultimately, things are won over the course of the season.
“The pressure has been on us and the team and we have delivered it with flying colours.
“Everyone around the club needs to enjoy the moment and then we can move on.”
Don’t miss more reaction to the Poppies’ title success on this website and in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph