Had the bookmakers offered Thurlow Nunn League First Division promotion odds at the start of the season, it is fair to assume that Haverhill Borough would not have been among the frontrunners.
While Martin Westcott’s men enjoyed a decent 2015/16 campaign — finishing eighth and winning the First Division Knockout Cup — the summer departure of chairman Ben Cowling to manage fellow New Croft tenants Haverhill Rovers, sparked somewhat of a player exodus.
And, with one of the division’s lowest budgets at his disposal, the summer recruitment process was a tough one for Westcott.
But, his second-placed team have defied those long odds, reaching a point where victory at Woodbridge Town on Saturday (3pm) — the only team that can overhaul Borough — will secure themselves a place in next year’s Premier Division.
Were they to get the job done on the pitch at Notcutts Park, Westcott has insisted it will be down to the work of everyone at the club, not just himself and his players.
“If you had said last June we would be in this position, I would have thought you were crazy,” said the player-boss.
“We probably lost half the team to Rovers with Ben, which is fair enough, that happens in football.
“There were a lot of changes and because of that people have really stepped up behind the scenes.
“Our chairman and committee are fantastic and do whatever they can for the team.
“We are on the breadline most of the time, so it is the invisible work that people do not see that has been invaluable.
“If we can get the job done, it would be for everyone connected with Borough because without them there would be no club.”
Last night, Borough were due to host Braintree Town Reserves (www.haverhillecho.co.uk for result), though the outcome holds no baring on the significance of the weekend’s game at Woodbridge.
The Woodpeckers are unbeaten in their last four outings, scoring 13 goals in the process.
But it is Borough that have the upper hand in two the meetings so far this season, winning 3-0 in the reverse league fixture before going on to beat them 3-1 in the quarter-finals of the Suffolk Senior Cup last month.
Westcott, though, has warned those results will count for little this time around.
“In the two games we have faced each other, Woodbridge have been unfortunate because those were arguably our best performances of the season,” he added.
“We are well aware of how good a side they are — much better than the scorelines against us suggest.
“We are going to have to be right up for it, anything less and they are more than capable of beating us.
“There could well be a bit of nervousness or excitement given what is at stake, but I think we will be able to cope with that.
“Teams have found us hard to play against because we are an honest and committed group.
“We set our stall out and if the other team is better, then fair play — nothing changes on Saturday.”