What a season it has been for Notts County.
Record breaking points total, record breaking goalscorer, and any other season they would have won automatic promotion.
But it was not to be for the Magpies this season, with Wrexham finishing just four points in front of them, on 111 no less.
The playoffs it is then, but Notts County are going into them as the firm favourites.
Undoubtedly is is expected that, come next Saturday (13 May), Nottingham will have two football league teams once again.
Head coach Luke Williams understands the weight of expectation that comes with being at the helm of England’s oldest football club.
“I realised I became a member of a very important club (when I took over).
“If you don’t feel the pressure of the club, you are either so good that you don’t feel it, or you’re not in touch with this job.
“There’s a huge weight on us to get back into the football league.”
Luke was appointed manager before the start of the season, and won the Manager of the Month award for October after 6 successive wins.
County were top of the league for much of the season, performing musical chairs with Wrexham into the last weeks before they were just pipped to the post.
Star striker Macauley Langstaff is another record breaker in this stat-smashing side, notching 42 goals across the league season, breaking the fifth-tier and the club’s single season scoring record in the process.
“Records have been broken left, right and centre throughout the team,” he says.
“The lads are really confident and they have handled the pressure well all season.”
But in a season of seemingly boundless positivity, County were struck by tragedy just a month before the finish line.
Chief Executive Jason Turner died unexpectedly, aged 50, on 31 March.
He had been with the club since March 2016, when they were in League Two, and stayed with the club through their relegation into non-league, and everyone at the club would have hoped that he would be able to see them return to the professional leagues once again.
Jason’s funeral took place on Wednesday this week (May 3), which was attended by many at the club, including Luke and Macauley.
“It was a very tough and emotional day,” says Luke.
“His fingerprints are everywhere at this club.”
Macauley continued, saying the loss of Jason has motivated the team further.
“That’s been the case for us for the last few weeks now.
“We’ve been so much more motivated; we were motivated anyway but we want to do it more for him now.
“Obviously we said our goodbyes to him yesterday, and it was an unbelievable day in terms of turn out.
“You can see how much he meant for everyone; at the club and everyone around, so it was a sad day yesterday but it was good to say goodbye to a great man.”
County are playing their playoff semi-final this Sunday (May 7) against Boreham Wood.
A one-legged affair, the winners go ahead to Wembley to get the chance to break back into League Two.
And despite the gravity of the task ahead, Macauley says that the team are staying calm.
“I think the mood about the place is really good, everyone seems relaxed.
“When we’re working, we’re working, but I think around the place you’ve got to be calm and relaxed and having laughs.
“We’re not complacent by any means, we’re not laughing because we think we’re going to walk the game on Sunday, but we’re confident so we’re walking about the place knowing we’ve got a big game Sunday but we’re excited for that.”
Given how successful County have been this season, and their record breaking points total, it did beg the question of whether the National League structure should be changed to allow for two teams to be automatically promoted.
Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds, the Wrexham co-owner, said on BT Sport how he thought that it should be both themselves and the Magpies celebrating promotion.
Macauley weighed in saying: “I don’t think we can sit here and be biased and say two teams should have gone up just because we’ve got 107 points and we would have been promoted any other season.
“But I’ve said it for a while, and I think a few of the lads have said it for a while, I do think it should be three up; two automatically and one through the playoffs because of the standard of the league.”
Aside from this, there is still hope for the future and what this amazing squad can achieve.
Luke also mentioned about their competitors, Wrexham, and how despite fighting tooth and nail with them for the single automatic spot, there is no animosity between them.
“These guys have been so, so gracious towards us; there has been incredible support from them.
“They’ve not personally been in touch, but I’m sure when they sober up they’ll watch the game!”
It seems there is promise in the offing for our city then, and both Macauley and Luke stressed the importance of the fans and how much doing this for them means.
Luke says: “When I’m in town, I speak to the fans and it’s so genuine, the passion and the support.
“It has blown me away, it has genuinely blown me away.
“They’ve suffered a lot because of different things, but what has become very apparent to me more and more is that you cannot take away the passion of the support.
“However bad things get, it’s their club, and it means so much to a lot of people.”
The manager and the squad know that they have all their fans behind them, and a packed out County Ground will sing them right until the final whistle against Boreham Wood.
Whatever happens, the flame of Notts County is burning strong once again.