COMMENT – A Steelmen title success would be one of the best stories

Corby Town's players are aiming to be Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division champions by the end of the day
Corby Town's players are aiming to be Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division champions by the end of the day

If Corby Town end this day as the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division champions, it will represent one of the best stories this journalist has ever had the privilege of reporting on.

Winning a title at any level is a massive achievement. Forget budgets, forget high attendances, just forget all that for a moment.

For a group of players and a management team, to finish on top of the pile at the end of a football season is the ultimate – it doesn’t get any bigger or better.

For supporters, it provides an unbelievable feeling – one that should be bottled up and kept for when your team is losing somewhere on a November Tuesday night in the following season.

But there are times when the story runs a lot deeper.

Talk about being lucky, we have been fortunate in the north of Northamptonshire this season.

Kettering Town – champions. AFC Rushden & Diamonds – champions.

Titles to celebrate for two sets of fans who have been to the very depths of despair, only to see their clubs rise again to enjoy the good times.

And it is a similar situation for the Steelmen as they and their supporters head to the south coast to see if the almost-impossible can become a reality.

One year ago, Corby beat Bedford Town 2-0 on the final day of the Premier Division season.

But that wasn’t the story of the day. It was on that day that it was confirmed a takeover of the club by a consortium of local businessmen was in the process of being completed - ending the reign of previous chairman Kevin Ingram.

It ended an uncertain month or so with fans fearing their club was on the brink of going out of business.

Make no mistake. Things haven’t been simple. Those behind the scenes (they know who they are) had a serious amount of work to do in a short space of time to stabilise things, let alone think about the on-field matters that lay ahead.

The new board, led by chairman Stevie Noble, appointed Tommy Wright as the sole manager and the rest, as they say, is history.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I would guess most Steelmen fans were the same.

But Wright threw together a squad that looked, on paper at least, quite useful with a good blend of youth and experience.

Outsiders for a play-off place perhaps? That’s how I saw it.

But a seven-match unbeaten run at the start of the campaign was the sign of things to come.

Corby have been consistent. They have played good football and they have shown an ability to grind out big results when they have needed it - who will ever forget Cleveland Taylor’s stoppage-time winner against Poole at Steel Park?

Wins have come on a regular basis, crowds have gone up to new highs and stayed there and the feel-good feeling that was installed by the new owners has remained.

But, having said all that, no-one would have expected today’s scenario to come about.

While Corby have stormed through the second half of the season, Poole’s indifferent form as the finishing line approached gave them a chance.

It shouldn’t have been this way, Poole really should have won this league quite by now.

But here we are, set for a final-day showdown that every true football fan (apart from those who follow the clubs involved who will have uncontrollable nerves) dreams of.

First versus second, level on points. Poole Town versus Corby Town, level on 91 points. Winner takes all.

Wright, whose stock has risen to big heights, was spot on when he said whoever wins today will be worthy champions – of that there is no doubt.

But who will get their ‘Michael Thomas moment’ (it’s most definitely up for grabs now)? Who will be the hero? Which club will be celebrating? And which club will be trying to pick themselves up for the play-offs?

Of course, I dearly hope it is the Steelmen who are celebrating come 5pm today.

But even if it isn’t, there will still be another chance to come as well as the opportunity to reflect on an amazing 12 months.

It’s a full-on title decider. Bring it on!

You can find full coverage of the Steelmen’s title-decider at Poole on this website as well as live updates from 3pm by following Jon Dunham on Twitter – @Jon DunhamNT