Historic title win took everyone at Brightlingsea Regent by surpise - even players!

Brightlingsea celebrate their promotion to the Ryman Premier. Pictures: PAUL VOLLER

Brightlingsea celebrate their promotion to the Ryman Premier. Pictures: PAUL VOLLER - Credit: Archant

Brightlingsea Regent never talked about winning the league until Saturday, and even then it was hushed!

So says R’s captain Matt Cripps, who played his part in Saturday’s historic achievement as the Essex club won the 2016/17 Ryman North Division title, with three games remaining after beating Romford 4-1.

Amidst wild dressing-room celebration, as the emergency champagne passed round the squad members, centre-half Cripps, who is in his third season with the club, said: “I’m lost for words to be honest.

“I don’t think anyone expected us to do it (on Saturday).

“The crowd and players were a bit quieter than usual, but maybe that worked in our favour.

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“We never talked about winning the league, and it was only until before this game that we said that we want to win the league. “The play-offs was always the goal, but when we went ahead and Maldon went 1-0 down, everyone could sense what was happening.

“Winning the league unexpected is better. We expected Maldon to win, but Dereham have done us a favour (by drawing 2-2 and allowing Regent to win the league), and we did our job on the pitch.”

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In truth, the R’s have done their job on the pitch all season - and have only lost once since the turn of the year.

“We didn’t start the season very well, but we went on a run of form and have been excellent in that,” continued Cripps.

“All of the players who have come in - alongside the players who have been here for five or six years - have made a difference and it’s all come together.

“I’m really proud to captain this team. Every player dug in through the season and we’ve got a decent squad, we had five starters on our bench on Saturday.”

And Cripps cannot wait for next season’s challenge, in the Ryman Premier Division.

“It’s going to be a test, but I think with a couple of additions to the squad – as well as the nucleus of the current squad together – we can give it a good go,” added the skipper.

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