Emley AFC boss Richard Tracey has spoken about just how much winning the Northern Counties East League Premier Division title would mean to him.

The Pewits need just a point with four games left and that could come today (Saturday) at struggling Goole.

Tracey, however, is on a family holiday in Singapore and will be ready to raise a glass – from 6,000 miles away.

Speaking to Huddersfield Hub just hours before he left, Tracey said: “I’ve been in football for 40 years since starting out as a kid and I’ve never been in a team that’s won the league.

“These opportunities don’t come around very often and when they do you have to enjoy them. I’ve won cups but never a league title and that would mean an awful lot.”

Winning promotion to the Northern Premier League was the aim when Tracey joined the club in 2019 and this triumph – when it’s confirmed, as it surely will be – is a massive achievement.

“It’s been five years in the making,” said Tracey. “That was our five-year plan and even with the Covid pandemic we managed to keep on track. I’ll be very proud if we can achieve it.”

Bringing in striker Ruben Jerome this season has proved key. He’s the division’s top scorer with 34 goals and then veteran goal poacher James Walshaw has also weighed in with 28, while winger Iyrwah Gooden has 20 – that’s an incredible 82 goals between the three of them!

While those three inevitably grabbed the headlines with their goals, for Tracey it’s been all about the squad.

“Last year we came third and we just didn’t have the depth of squad,” he said. “This year we have a 22-man squad and everyone has contributed.”

The big squad has been needed too with lengthy runs in the FA Cup and the FA Vase. Emley are also still in the NCEL League Cup too.

Emley have played well over 50 games so far and for the team to be topping the league after such a workload is testament to the players’ resilience.

“North Ferriby won the league last year but they went out of the cups really early,” said Tracey. “The downside of the cup runs is the workload for the players but we have been successful and kept putting wins together.

“We have not always been the best footballing team in the league but we have always found a way.”

Tracey will miss the remaining league games but will be back in time for the NCEL League Cup quarter-final at home to Bottesford Town on April 13. By then the league and cup double could be on…

Images by: Huddersfield Hub photographer SEAN DOYLE