Solihull Moors boss Marcus Bignot has revealed that the belief that they could gain promotion came thanks to a message from two supporters on the club’s darkest day of an outstanding season.
Promotion, and the Vanarama National League North title, were secured on Tuesday night, as North Ferriby United’s defeat at the hands of Stalybridge Celtic gave the Moors an insurmountable lead with three games of the season left.
And as Bignot reflected on the achievements of his side, he cast his mind back to a rare low point in a season of highs.
It was late January when the Moors travelled play-off chasing Harrogate Town looking to hammer home their credentials as title favourites against their in-form hosts.
The CNG Stadium has fond memories for Bignot and his players as just twelve months earlier striker Omar Bogle (now with Grimsby Town) inspired the Moors to a 4-0 win.
However, things were to be very different this time around as Town smashed six past a helpless Moors side.
Bignot followed his players off the pitch at full time, followed by two supporters and he admitted that the message they gave to him inspired the belief that his side could go on to gain a historic title win.
“It’s a strange one but I felt it would happen after the 6-0 defeat against Harrogate Town.
“We had recruited well in the summer and we carried momentum into the season, that gave us a platform.
“When we lost to Harrogate I came off the pitch and was expecting some stick from the
supporters but two of them came to me and reminded me of what we were acheiving as a club.
“I went into the dressing room and I said to the players that we can win this league and we have to believe we can because the supporters certainly do”
It was business as usual for Bignot on Tuesday evening, despite knowing that his side could be handed the title.
The former Crewe Alexandra defender was on scouting duties to watch Hednesford Town, the Moors opposition on Saturday for what is sure to be a party atmosphere at the Automated Technology Group Stadium.
With the Pitmen a goal down Bignot left Keys Park shortly after half time.
His destination was back in Solihull as a gathering of people from the club gathered to await news of the final score at Stalybridge.
And when it came celebrations quickly got underway for Bignot and his players.
He said “I was watching Hednesford Town because we play them on Saturday but I left just after half time to get back to the club.
“The management, staff and players got together in the bar and we were together when the North Ferriby result came in.
“I think it’s been posted on Twitter and Facebook that we had a sing-song, we had a few champagne bottles being popped around the room and it was different.
“To win it, without playing, was very different but we still celebrated as we should and credit to the boys for what they have done”
If you are to believe the bookmakers, the Moors came into the season with hopes of challenging for the play-offs.
Eight months later they have made a mockery of those odds, by sealing a historic promotion and one that has surprised many.
Bignot believes his side have overachieved this season, as he hailed their title win as “a massive achievement”
“We have overachieved this season, make no doubts about that.
“We have put a group together that we felt could grow together.
“The remit of the club was to be a genuine play-off contender within two years and we have flirted with the play-offs so far.
“So we have surpassed that and to go up automatic is unbelievable. As the season went on expectation and belief grew so to get automatic promotion, where only one club does that in the league, is a massive achievement”
Attention will now turn towards bigger challenges for Bignot and everyone at Solihull Moors.
The club will come up against some famous names in the National League next season but Bignot believes that his players will “relish the challenge” of taking on the big boys.
“We are a small club in the league we are in now so we will be even smaller in the National League I guess.
“But that shows the quality of the non-league game now.
“There are top clubs in every league and even in the National League North you have former league clubs like Stockport County and Boston United.
“The standard is so high but we want to establish ourselves in the National League, that will be the goal and we will relish
the challenge of taking on the big boys.
“That challenge will drive us on”
Interview: Mark Carruthers