Bentley Colliery have had to dig deep this season, both on and off the field.
The future of the cash-strapped Central Midlands League Northern Division looked to be in doubt late last year following repeated acts of vandalism at their ground on The Avenue.
With points also proving hard to come by – the club banked just one point in eight matches – Colliery faced their darkest hour and there were genuine fears their home game against Glapwell could be their last.
But not only were the club’s hard-working committee determined to beat the odds, so too were the players.
“It was fantastic how the players reacted to the club’s financial problems,” said Craig Eanor, who was made joint-manager by player-boss Chris Scott after helping him out with the coaching during the 2012-13 campaign.
“They all appreciate all the hard work put in by the committee, who are brilliant, and the team developed an ‘us against the world mentality’ and results started to pick up,” he said.
“To be fair, even though we only picked up a 0-0 draw at Askern during that eight game spell, we weren’t getting thrashed and we were only getting beat by the odd goal a lot of the time.
“I think one of the problems during that period was the fact that we’d brought four or five teenagers, who are all technically fantastic, into the side this season and it was just taking them a while to get used to playing in a men’s league.”
The team, who drew 3-3 with visiting Askern in the return last time out, are back in action in a rearranged game against second-placed AFC Mansfield on Saturday after being without a game last weekend.
Mansfield were leading 2-0 late in the first half when the original game was called off last month when conditions worsened.
“To be fair they would probably have won that game, but we’ll be looking to try and pick up a result,” said Craig.
Looking ahead to the last couple of months of the campaign, Craig said: “We managed to climb into the top half of the table last month although we’ll do well to finish there given the fact that we’ve played more games than the teams below us.
“But I’m sure that we’ll finish a lot higher than we did last season, when we finished in the bottom four, which was the target last August.
“If we can keep the side together, and just add a couple of players in areas where we need to strengthen – like centre-back where Phil, who can also play up front, is having to cover – then hopefully we’ll continue to improve next season.”