Stockton Town have been promoted to Step Four of Non League English Football for 2021-22 season.
Michael Dunwell’s Anchors will join the newly formed Northern Premier League East Division from next season alongside fellow Northern League clubs – Shildon and Hebburn who have also been approved for promotion.
Other promoted clubs into the division include Liversedge, Bridlington Town and Yorkshire Amateur, whilst the Anchors will come up against former Northern League opposition in Marske United and Dunston.
Feeling “delighted” with the promotion, Dunwell is happy that the club has achieved the aim and admitted that “… nobody can question that we deserve to go up as well.”
Despite seeing the last two seasons curtailed early due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Stockton accumulated 104 points across both campaigns and were the top club overall on points-per-game (PPG) basis with an average points haul of 2.48 PPG.
Looking ahead to next season and the atmosphere at the club, Dunwell said; “The players are delighted, the club is delighted and we are ready for that level.
“It’s massive for the club. For the club itself, it shows our desire to get to the next level.
“We’ve always wanted to go through the leagues and this is another step in the right direction.”
Club captain, Adam Nicholson meanwhile feels that the promotion is “deserved” after a “tough year” for the club as they seemingly saw promotion denied twice through the pandemic.
Nicholson though feels that the team has earned promotion on merit on and off the pitch, adding; “There was 42 games played across the two seasons and we’re out there on top.
“That’s on merit, I know we had to accept the invite, but we’ve done it on the pitch. I think it’s what we deserve.”
Further details on plans for next season will be released in due course.
‘A big ambition has been achieved’
Stockton Town Chairman, Martin Hillerby has spoken of his excitement at confirmation of promotion after several seasons in the Wearside then Northern Leagues, saying; “A big ambition has been achieved.
“I never thought that when we started off on this journey that we could possibly end up playing at Step 4.”
Stockton Town used to be an Under-18 team and Hillerby in particular acknowledged Tom Portas who played in the team at youth level, and is now part of the squad to have clinched promotion which he hailed as “… an incredible achievement.”
Hillerby also admitted that this promotion is a moment which everyone involved with the club and town can saviour, commenting; “It’s something that myself, the players, management, the club and the town of Stockton can be proud of.”
Reflecting on the performance of the team throughout the last two seasons despite dealing with the pandemic, Hillerby said; “This club, this squad, deserve their promotion and deserve to be playing higher up.”
Confirmation of this move comes just a week after the vast majority of the squad signed new contracts with the club, keeping them at the North-East based team until Summer 2022 with an option for a further season.