Hadleigh United match-day volunteers told how their nerves reached fever pitch when they got wind the league trophy was waiting in their car park.
The Thurlow Nunn League chairman Peter Hutchings gambled on the trophy’s most likely destination, despite second-placed Brightlingsea Regent only needing to better Hadleigh’s result to leapfrog them.
But the appearance of their former reserve-team manager Hutchings and what lay hidden in the boot of his car was not seen as a good sign ahead of kick-off.
Pete Tampion, a committee member and youth team representative, said: “I knew before the game.
“When he walked through the gate I said ‘I hope you haven’t got the trophy in the back of the car?’ And he nodded.
“And I said ‘don’t you dare bring that in here! And don’t say anything, just come in and watch the game’.
“It was a nice touch it was him, although he has brought us quite a bit of bad luck recently!”
He explained on two previous occasions during the season Hutchings has turned up with a team of the month trophy at the Millfield only to have to present it to them after rare home defeats.
Louise Hay, general secretary and membership secretary, who learnt of the trophy’s whereabouts just before half-time, said: “I did feel sick when they (Mildenhall) scored and knowing Brightlingsea were ahead, but then it was just a great moment when we scored.”
Tampion, a former player connected with the club for 30 years who does the kit duties when John Day is not able to, added: “It feels that everything we do is made worthwhile on a day like this.”
Hay also revealed there was a nice touch from one of their main sponsors, Mark Ward from Hadleigh Tyres, who supplied the champagne for the players, including his step-son Mike Barwick.
Hadleigh president Terry Adams, who got a great late present after having celebrated his 74th birthday the previous day, said: “I never thought I would see this day.”
The man who has reported on the club for the Free Press for 22 years agreed with the decision not to go up, saying to do so would have been ‘a disaster’.