Warrington Rylands manager David McNabb has reflected on the ‘massive’ achievement of winning promotion to the Northern Premier League.
Rylands emerged from the back of the trailing pack to secure promotion on the final day of the season as nearest challengers Workington failed to beat Market Drayton Town.
Despite Workington and Marine battling it out throughout the course of the season, the 2020 FA Vase winners strung together a number of winning sequences including their title-winning run that stretched back to January.
McNabb told Off The Park: “I think it’s massive, massive for the club off the pitch, on the pitch if you look at the way we performed this season, particularly since the turn of the year it’s been exceptional. Ultimately, the lads have the rewards and praise for winning the league and getting us promoted.
“I think we always knew the group and the squad was going to get better as the season went along. At the start of the season, we were a little inconsistent in our application, we had some really good performances and some not so good ones.
“We were making a lot of individual errors that led to goals being conceded and then as the year went on we got stronger, better, since Christmas and the Leek game where we got turned over 3-0, we’ve been consistent, scoring goals, a lot better defensively, we’ve made some monumental steps forward. It’s full credit to the players and coaching staff for the work they put in on the training pitch.
“It was beyond expectation. With Marine and Workington so strong both on and off the pitch, they’ve been at this level a long time. We almost felt like it was going to be very difficult to compete with those two in a 38 game season.
“What we was hoping for was a one-off game against one of them in the playoffs and that’s where we thought we might be able to pip someone. How it’s worked out, we hit form and we were in form, from the turn of the year we’ve had four really good months where we’ve won 14-15 games out of the 18 we played, other teams have had their blips and we’ve took full advantage of it.
“You can look at it a million ways but after 38 games, the team with the most points deserves to win the league.
“Once we got to the point where it was back in our hands ahead of the Workington game, it was almost like ‘this could actually happen’, conceding that late equaliser to Workington was a bump in the road.
“There was an element of if you seen how they celebrated when they scored the goal, they pretty much thought that they won the league that day by holding us to a point. It’s not easy to win games in this league and we seen that in the last couple of games and with Workington as well.
“I think at that point we maybe thought it slipped away but after the Marine game that’s when it felt like it was real.”
Throughout the season, Rylands welcomed a number of arrivals including former Football League midfielder Dean Furman prompting claims of ‘money buying the league’ but McNabb has played it off as ‘lazy’.
He explained: “I think it’s people deflecting their own personal performances, it’s lazy explanations for a club that is very ambitious and put a lot of foundations in place over the last few years. We try and act as professionally as we physically can.
“We’re a part-time outfit, this season alone we’ve been and watched between the management team 140 games, on top of the 40 games that we played ourselves so we’re consistently going out to watch teams, players, looking at how teams set up and learn things.
“People don’t see that work that goes in, that’s people who are primarily brought in to coach or manage the team, going out and doing things extra, over and above. That then transpires into our knowledge and trying to pass that onto the players when you have got really tight games, that one piece of knowledge how a certain player plays or how a team set up or where the strengths and weaknesses are, that might be the difference between getting that three points or not.
“Ultimately, we won it on a point so I’d like to think a lot more goes into it than money. People always want to find a reason for their own failure and the easiest one to go is failures.”
On the final day, Rylands faced the anxious wait of the full-time whistle between Workington and Market Drayton. McNabb said: “It was a horrendous feeling to be honest. I think there was a lot of misinformation flying around, at one point someone told us it was 2-1 to Workington and our game was 2-2 at the time and we were sending our goalkeeper up.
“I remember screaming ‘get up’ and the fans were screaming ‘get back’, it was a surreal feeling. As the referee blew that final whistle it was an eerie silence. The news come through that the game was over then it was so many emotions, like a rollercoaster, eventually when the league confirmed it was done, it was more relief than anything else.”
*Interview conducted in May.