Relief among the elation for Donnelly as title win completes Stotfold's pre-season plan

Stotfold get ready to start the celebrations after they clinched the SSML Division One title.

Stotfold get ready to start the celebrations after they clinched the SSML Division One title. - Credit: NEIL METCALFE

Winning a league title is normally associated with emotions such as elation, delight and joy but while those were all there for Stotfold manager Brett Donnelly, there was another that stood out after his side clinched the Spartan South Midlands League Division One crown.

"It’s more of a relief," he admitted immediately after the 3-0 win over Shefford Town & Campton had turned New Roker Park into the biggest party across both Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

"We said at the start of the season, we have to go up. We can’t be playing in step six here. 

"It’s not where I want to be, it’s not where the club or the players want to be. 

"We had to go up. 

"At the start of the season, we had to club together a side and even though we weren’t great, I think you could see there was a gulf in class. 

"They are third in the league and I thought we were better than them.

"That’s 10 months of hard work and we are getting our rewards. 

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"We showed why we were top. 

"We weren’t great but we found a way to win comfortably." 

All three goals came in the second half with Conor Clarke's penalty on 55 minutes being followed by efforts from Ash Kersey and Codi-Lee Spavins in the last three minutes.

The introduction of veteran striker Kersey made the difference as he won the penalty just seconds after coming on and his boss was full of praise.

"All I do is give him stick about how he annoys me and how he doesn’t do anything a centre-forward should," said Donnelly with a cheeky smile. 

Last couple of weeks he has been brilliant but

"He doesn’t normally play midweeks but a cup final last week and he is suddenly available. Win the league today and he is suddenly available. 

"We did think about starting him but we didn’t know he was available until last night. 

"So we went with Bob [Dance] as he deserves it but what a lad to bring on. 

"First thing he does is win a pen and he was a handful. Nobody knows what he is doing, he doesn’t know himself. 

"He’s a great bloke and I’ve got to say thanks to him again, which breaks my heart because it is the second time, but he has been a brilliant signing. 

"He wasn’t playing and agreed to come out of retirement for us."

Stotfold's success this year has also brought the Beds Senior Cup and thy are still in the hunt for more silverware before the season comes to a close.

Not a bad way for the former Hitchin Town man to introduce himself to football management.

Donnelly said: "We’ve been through a lot together and when you’re a player you don’t really realise the amount of effort that goes into getting a side out every week or the amount of effort that goes in behind the scenes.

"That’s the whole club, not just myself and the team, and to get this is what we worked for. 

"Hopefully we can go and get a few more pots and I can retire at the end of the season as it is not going to get any better."