A dream, years in the making, came true on Friday when Melton Mowbray’s promotion to step six of the non-league ladder was confirmed.
It is a stunning transformation for Melton who have risen from park football strugglers to Division One of the United Counties League (UCL) within a decade.
Fittingly the call from the UCL was taken by joint-manager Matt Curtis who, with chairman Sam Ellis, has overseen the dramatic rise.
Curtis joined a side languishing near the bottom of Division Two of the Leicester and District League as a player just over a decade ago.
Having taken over as manager he guided Melton into the Leicestershire Senior League, via the North Leicestershire League.
Curtis was joined by co-manager Cliff Thornton and the pair engineered a further promotion from Division One to the Premier and then finally out of the Senior League.
For Foxes fan Curtis, it’s been a miraculous month.
“With Leicester winning the league as well I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” he said.
“My aim was always to get into the senior league and to go that one step further is brilliant. The players are very excited.”
The club moved to a new temporary home in Melton last month having missed out on promotion in 2014 and 2015 because of failed ground inspections.
Their new ground made the grade, but their chances looked to have gone when they finished behind fellow promotion candidates Birstall United.
But a late decision to award a second promotion spot ensured it was third time lucky for Curtis and Thornton.
Ellis said: “It’s going to be a lot of work this summer, but we are seriously going for it; nothing’s going to stop us.
“Next season our target will be to qualify for the FA Cup and the season after we’ll be going for promotion to level five.”
The news will spark a busy summer off the field as well as on it, starting with next Monday’s annual meeting (see page 63) where several appointments are expected to be made.
Former Holwell manager Howard Eggleston has joined as vice-chairman, while former Sports chairman Paul Teare is also set to be part of a much-expanded committe as Mowbray look to build a new infrastructure.
“We have been two men and a dog running things so it’s time we step up,” added Ellis. “The club is way too high now to continue like that.
“Since the ground has been built, a few people have come forward looking to join us. We are now an attractive prospect.”
Melton will play in the FA Vase for the first time next season and could line up in the FA Cup the following year if they finish high enough in their debut UCL campaign.
The club’s second side will also switch to the UCL’s reserve league, while Ellis is keen to launch a youth league side in future seasons.
Supporters can also look savour a move to a new purpose-built ground within the Burton Road sports complex, scheduled for completion by 2018.
Curtis: “I was looking forward to putting my feet up for a couple of weeks, but I don’t think that’s going to happen now!
“There is so much we have to do behind the scenes to make sure we are ready.
“We need more people on board to drive the club forward and for the community to get behind the project.
“I have been really pleased with how people have pitched in over the last couple of games such as Ian Wakefield, Wayne Reach, and Malky Roberts.
“And we have to thank Ronan Browne and Melton Council as well because without them it wouldn’t have been possible.”