Promotion Special: Huntingdon crowned champions
THE Champagne was flowing at Jubilee Park on Saturday when Huntingdon Town were crowned United Counties League Division One Champions.
Having already won promotion to the UCL Premier when they beat ON Chenecks the previous weekend, Ricky Marheineke’s side secured the title with a 3-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Rothwell Town, a side who only turned up with 10 players.
In fact, the game was almost postponed when those Rothwell players that did make the journey at first refused to play. The 117-year-old Northamptonshire club is in administration, its Cecil Street ground is up for sale, and the first team manager Michael Williams resigned on Friday.
Huntingdon made hard work of the win – but will begin next season in the Premier Division alongside St Ives Town after the best season in the club’s 15-year history. Talk about contrasts.
Marheineke said: “The pitch was bad, the conditions were poor, and the team we were playing against weren’t great – but at the end of the day it’s all about winning.
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“It wasn’t pretty but we did exactly what we had to do – so who cares?”
It took Huntingdon 20 minutes to make the breakthrough – but there had been a scarcity of chances in those first 20 minutes. Rothwell parked the proverbial bus and worked hard to keep the home side out.
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It was never going to last though – this wasn’t Chelsea against Barcelona, after all – and Latvian striker Niks Savalnieks finally hammered the ball home with a powerful strike from 12 yards.
Josh Crick and Jake Waterworth both had long-distance strikes saved before half time and – with the chairman’s promise of �100 behind the bar for the player who scored the 100th goal of the season – there were further pot shots after the break.
When Waterworth had another go, from 30 yards out, the ball struck a Rothwell defender on its way into the net. An own goal? Never. Another 30-yard pot shot, this time from a Charlie Bowden, was goal 101.
At the final whistle the players chased down Marheineke and dragged him through the mud. I’m sure he didn’t mind. “Our aim was to get promoted,” he said. “To go up as champions is brilliant.
“We hit some form at the right time at Christmas.”