SPENNYMOOR manager Jason Ainsley is an emotional wreck of a man. Then I chuck a stat at him that almost tips him over the edge.
“I’ve spent all day chasing 170 hyper children around Flamingo Land Theme Park,” he said, still short of breath when we speak on Thursday night.
“It’s chaos, but I’ve not lost one of them. I think everyone is accounted for, I’ve not had any phone calls. Yet. Well, the three buses were all full when we headed back home at least.
“Friday I’ll probably have a breakdown! I’ll be all over the place. It’s my final day teaching at my school and I don’t know how I’m going to be. It’s tough for the teachers as well you know.
“I’ve been there 15 years. I’m Head of Pastoral at St Peter’s Academy, and the outing was all about rewards for the children. It’s a great experience and they love their days out – I’m really sad to be leaving. I’ll be all over the place, I’m not good at goodbyes!
“The kids have given me some amazing gifts. Quite a few bottles of gin and a Hugo Boss tie! You can’t say fairer than that.”
He’ll need his six weeks off to prepare for what’s ahead. Spennymoor have risen through the leagues to take their place in the National League North next month.
Accelerating through the Northern League before taking the Evo-Stik NPL divisions in their stride, their first game at this level is the biggest they could have hoped for.
Less than 15 years ago, Stockport County were beating Manchester City in the old First Division. The same season that Spennymoor were playing in Division Four of the Northern League.
They were 11 leagues apart, but on August 5 they stand as equals.
“You can’t throw clubs like Stockport, Kidderminster and York City at me, not today,” he laughs. “What are you trying to do to me!
“I think when we started out on the journey we are on, the plan was just to move forward as quickly as we can and see where it takes us.
“We were playing in Step 6 just seven years ago. We’ve got an ambitious chairman and when you consider where we’ve come from, you have got to say you feel proud about what has happened.”
It would be easy to take their foot off the gas. They know they’re in unchartered territory, a division littered with big money and big clubs. Ambition before is one thing, but to challenge this year for yet another promotion would be a stretch.
“I suppose in a way the pressure is off us a little because of where we find ourselves,” Ainsley said. “We can relax a bit; we won’t have the pressure of having to win every game as you’ll look at that fixture list and most weeks we’ll know the other club is favourites more often than not.
“But I’m determined to enjoy it, and the players are up for the challenge. The club have never held back in the past, we’re not the kind of people who like to stand still.”