There were celebratory scenes when Plenty Valley Lions claimed the second promotion spot in FFV state league 5 north last Saturday.
A 4-0 victory against Keon Park sealed second spot with two rounds remaining, with the Lions four points ahead of third-placed Bundoora United.
With a bye in the second last round, the Lions cannot be overtaken.
The happy outcome was a contrast to 12 months before when the club was relegated.
Lions secretary Theo Nikolaidis said they had worked so hard to turn things around.
“To be relegated last season was really disappointing,” he said.
“It was a kick in the guts and immediately we set about going straight back up. A lot of the time it takes two or three years to earn promotion and go back up.
“Our players, committee members, coaches and juniors have all contributed to the success of going back up.”
Nikolaidis said the first step at the end of last season was to appoint a new coaching panel with the intention of earning promotion.
George Traikovski was appointed head coach, while Joe Mascaro was appointed assistant coach and George Velkos as coach of the reserves.
Nikolaidis said right from the start they were excited about the appointment of Traikovski.
“With his credentials and being a former player of Plenty Valley, we thought he was the right man for the job,” he said.
“It was a strategic appointment to steer the team straight back up.”
The Lions join division champion Craigieburn City is earning promotion. City is coached by former Lions mentor Michael Loche.
City is the only team to defeat the Lions this season.
“There’s a good rivalry on the park, but a lot of respect off the park between our two clubs,” Nikolaidis said.
“We applaud them as champions … they have earnt that title.”
The hard work isn’t finished for the Lions, who have one match remaining, against Uni Hill Eagles. While the result is irrelevant, Nikolaidis said they wanted to finish the season on a high.
“The pressure is off us now,” he said.
“We didn’t want to go into the final round needing to win. We want to finish on a good note.”
It’s not just the senior side of the club that is blooming – it has a growing junior base and the club is looking to add female sides.
The club is also in talks with the local council about upgrades for its ground.
The soccer doesn’t stop though during the offseason, with the club running a program for autistic kids.
Those interested can contact Joe Mascaro on 0488 199 394