Grant Black hails 'unbelievable' Belper Town promotion after play-off glory

Grant Black has paid tribute to his Belper Town squad after they secured promotion via the NPL Midlands play-offs last weekend.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 5:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 5:20 pm

The 1-0 win at Chasetown sent the Nailers back up to step three and came just four days after a similarly impressive 2-1 win at in-form Stamford.

And Black says that the unity in his squad helped things come together at the right time for Belper who had been in and around the top five for the vast majority of the season.

He said: “Everyone was a bit apprehensive at the start of the season after the two curtailed campaigns and nobody was really sure how things would pan out.

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Grant Black celebrates as the final whistle is blown at Chasetown last weekend. Photo by Mike Smith.

"But we were up there for most of the season alongside really strong sides like Ilkeston, Halesowen, Chasetown and Stamford and although we couldn’t maintain our challenge for the title, our next aim was the play-offs and we earned our place.

"There were key moments such as the 94th minute winner at Loughborough on Easter Monday, which I think was when the lads really started to feel things were going our way and the momentum from that game took us through and we held our nerve brilliantly, especially after losing at Carlton as I think a lot of people thought that was our chance over.

"We were underdogs for both play-off games which suited us in some ways but we also felt we could beat anyone in a one-off match and that the league positions didn’t matter at all.

"Stamford were adamant they’d push hardest to finish second as they wanted to play us. That galvanised our lads and no team talk was needed from me.

"We embraced that game and the Chasetown match, had no fear and handled it really well. I’ll never forget these last few weeks, it’s been unbelievable.”

Black says attention now turns to next season, with Belper expected to be placed in the NPL Premier Division rather than the Southern Premier Central, where some other local teams may be put due to geographical reasons.

He said: “I expect the chairman knows he’ll be getting a phone call from me before long!

"We’re eyeing up some targets and want to ensure we’ll be competitive in what will be a very difficult division.”