Iron must keep feet firmly on the ground

TWENTY years ago during the 1990/91 season, Braintree Town finished runners-up to Wisbech Town in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division.

While during that very same season Grimsby Town and Mansfield Town were battling in Division Three, with the likes of current Premier League incumbents, Wigan, Stoke City, Swansea, Fulham and Bolton.

There have been many twists and turns for all aforementioned clubs since then, but the road Braintree Town FC have taken is probably as successful as any of them.

On Tuesday night the Cressing Road club enjoyed one of their greatest-ever nights and announced their arrival into the Conference (Blue Square Premier), with a thumping 5-0 victory over Grimsby. On Saturday, they entertain Mansfield.

The thought that Iron would be competing, and beating, clubs of Grimsby’s calibre was just a pipe-dream even just a few years ago. Today however, reality kicks in.

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While the Mariners from Grimsby were left to lick their wounds after a super Iron effort, Mansfield are likely to be wary of their visit to Cressing Road this weekend. Along with many others in the Conference.

But hey, who cares? For Iron fans this is dreamland.

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No more league visits from Woodbridge Town, Halstead Town or Haverhill Rovers (with respect to all three).

These days it’s Lincoln City, Darlington, Luton Town, Grimsby and Mansfield who will be gracing Cressing Road.

So after all the euphoria of Tuesday night, what now for Alan Devonshire’s side?

Well, just up the A14, Braintree can look at Histon’s rise to power. And perhaps take on a thing or two.

The Stutes rose through the Eastern Counties ranks and up the non-league pyramid, just as Iron have done, albeit quicker.

And then incredibly got themselves on the verge of the Football League two seasons ago, while enjoying FA Cup games against the likes of Leeds and Swansea.

But Histon’s bubble has burst, for now anyhow, and there are lessons to be learned.

Meanwhile Iron chairman Lee Harding has steadily built the Braintree foundations, despite his decisions not always being popular.

But he deserves credit, and with a new ground on the horizon, the future could be bright for the Essex boys.

But it’s feet on the ground time right now for Iron.

The team have shown their guile, have shown their quality.

Now they need to show how far mentally they have come.

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