Departing head coach Graham Richards admitted Sudbury RFC will always hold a special place in his heart after guiding the club to a second successive promotion.
The Welsh coach brought his four year association with the club to an end in fitting fashion on Saturday as Sudbury sealed back-to-back promotions with a thrilling and dramatic 22-18 London League Division Two North play-off final victory over visiting Hammersmith and Fulham.
And after the celebrations pitchside with the jubilant fans and his players had died down, Richards took a moment to reflect on his achievements and pay special tribute to those involved in the club’s success.
“To win the final and gain another promotion with a bit a panache and a bit of style was special and is all credit to the players, I couldn’t be any prouder,” said Richards.
“The players said at the beginning of the year that promotion is what they wanted to aim for. I told them if that was the case they had to commit — and that is exactly what they have done.
“This achievement is not just down to me whatsoever. Without the commitment of the players and everyone involved this could not have been achieved. No matter how good people may believe I am it is a complete team effort and I couldn’t be happier for those people within the club.
“There is a sense of sadness for myself because I am leaving this group but I have no regrets. My time has come to move and I am just delighted as a group they have achieved what they wanted when we set out together four years ago.
“I’m not sure the boys back then who are still involved now would ever have imagined we could achieve back-to-back promotions like we have; it has been a sensational achievement.”
And while the club now turn their attentions to an assault on London One North next season, Richards will be aiming to bring through the next crop of young talent, while keeping an eye on his former side from afar.
“Sometimes as a coach you don’t always leave in the most pleasant of circumstances but I am leaving here on a very big high,” he added.
“I’m leaving to go back to coach under-18s in Wales but I’ll be keeping an eye on the boys’ progress and no doubt I’ll back here at some stage to see everyone. The club will always hold a special place in my heart with and I’ll be taking very fond memories with me; I couldn’t have asked for anything more in my four years here.”