Mills, Brighton and Lorraine stood out from the crowd
There were a number of impressive performers during the long season for Corby Town, Kettering Town and AFC Rushden & Diamonds.
Now Northants Telegraph football reporter Jon Dunham picks his unnofficial players of the year for each club based on the matches he witnessed throughout the campaign.
Almost a no-brainer this one, although that’s not to say it was all just about Greg Mills.
The likes of Kalern Thomas and Ben Milnes didn’t look out of place while the emergence of young goalkeeper Sam Donkin was one of the major positives from the season.
But he question of what the Steelmen’s campaign would have been like had Mills not been around is one that is probably best avoided.
While others let their standards drop, the frontman’s displays remained as consistent as they could be.
Always a threat with his blistering pace, Mills’ goals helped ensure there was still hope of them avoiding the drop as they came into the new year.
A memorable hat-trick in a 3-2 win at Stalybridge Celtic in November and his double strike at Brackley Town in the 2-1 success on Boxing Day were the perfect examples of a near one-man mission.
Mills proved he is more than capable of performing at that level, something that present Tommy Wright with a few issues in his bid to keep him at the club.
In fairness, if this had been judged from November onwards, there would have been a lot in the frame.
The contributions of Wilson Carvalho, Rene Howe and Herve Pepe-N’Goma during the latter stages of the campaign should not be underestimated. Indeed, that’s just picking three names - it was a collective effort that got the Poppies up the table.
But it was one of their summer signings that really caught the eye right from the start of the season.
James Brighton just seems to have everything you would want from a wide player.
Pace, skill, the ability to cross a ball, dangerous set-piece delivery and an eye for goal. He showed it all.
He was needed to fill in at left-back probably more than Marcus Law may have wanted him to but was clearly a lot more effective when deployed further up the pitch.
His performances and his age, he’ll be 23 going into next season, were enough to earn him a contract at Latimer Park and he will surely be one of the players that next season’s squad will be built around.
A fine first season in Poppies colours and the fans will hope there are plenty more to come.
AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS
Out of the three clubs I cover, this was the hardest one to pick. That does at least show that Diamonds got to where they finished with a collective effort.
The likes of goalkeeper Matt Finlay, defenders Liam Dolman and Jack Ashton, and midfielders Claudiu Hoban and Brad Harris all impressed during the campaign.
Manager Andy Peaks is a big fan of a hard-work ethic and striker Tom Lorraine epitomises that.
Perhaps not the most polished of footballers, Lorraine made a decent start to life at the level and scored crucial goals while also playing his part in many others as Diamonds took to their new surroundings with consummate ease.
The frontman scored 15 goals throughout the campaign before it was cruelly ended prematurely by injury.
The arrival of Elliot Sandy and the emergence of Jack Bowen ensured Diamonds did have other options in attack as they went into the play-offs.
But Lorraine’s presence was missed and perhaps could have made a difference, particularly in the final.
He won’t have been everyone’s choice but Lorraine’s high work-rate, goalscoring ability and obvious enjoyment of playing caught the eye enough for me.