Manager Mark Collingwood is preparing to take Seaham Red Star into Division One of the Northern League – ending the club’s 13-year wait for top-flight action.
After winning four trophies as boss of Northern Alliance side Hebburn Reyrolle, Collingwood added the Northern League Division Two title to his honours in April.
Now the job gets harder, with the likes of Shildon, West Auckland, Newton Aycliffe, Consett and Ashington in their sights.
Collingwood said: “I set a three-year plan to win promotion back to Division One when I first took over at the club, and maybe at the time I thought I was being a little optimistic.
“But to do it within that time period is a massive achievement.
“We came close last year, but the points deduction meant we missed out on promotion. Being honest though, that was a blessing in disguise, because we weren’t ready then.
“Now, after another season, and going up as champions, I think we’re ready for Division One.”
Red Star cruised to the Division Two title with an 11-point margin over second-placed Washington, and plans for life in Division One have already begun.
“All our fixtures, training schedules and signings are complete for the next season already,” Collingwood explained.
“We’ve made two signings. Robbie Bird, a Seaham lad, is a super signing for the club, as is Davy Coulson from Dunston UTS, and if we can get Sonny Andrews back fit during pre-season, after his cruciate ligament injury, he’ll be like a new signing for us too.”
Collingwood was keen to bring in local talent, as he looks to secure stability in Division One over the next three seasons.
“Having local lads playing has been a part of Seaham as a club.
“We didn’t want to bring in aliens who didn’t know the area or the club. All three signings have solid Division One experience, so we’re in good shape looking ahead to next season.
“We have nothing to fear going up. Phase one of getting the club promoted in three seasons is complete, and now it is time to start phase two of making sure we establish ourselves as a Division One club.
Similar to his previous three-year plan, Collingwood wants to execute his new three-year blueprint in the same way.
“You’ve got to have a plan if you want your club to progress,” he added. “Without aims and goals, the club can’t move forward. And if we continue the way we’ve been going, there’s nothing to say we can’t be a top-six club in Division One.”