Ryhope CW and Chester-le-Street can relax after they both clinched promotion from Division Two with midweek wins.
The Wearsiders reflected on Tuesday night that, after finishing second in Division Two in 2013, they were compulsorily demoted to the Wearside League because their facilities did not meet the required criteria.
“It’s the first time in the club’s history that we have been in the top flight,” said secretary Dougie Bennison.
“Chairman Darren Norton promised league chairman Mike Amos that the club would make it to the top flight after the massive disappointment suffered three years ago.
“All credit to Darren and the small committee, but promotion would not have been achieved without the excellent management team of Gary Pearson, Stuart Godden and Leon Ryan and all the players.”
Ryhope are at Thornaby tomorrow and Phil Hall, club captain for the last eight years, is playing one of his last games before taking up a teaching post in Qatar.
“Phil has been the most successful captain in the history of the club and we wish him well in his new job,” added Bennison.
After tomorrow, Ryhope will focus on Monday’s Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup final against Northallerton at Norton (3pm).
Chester-le-Street were relegated in 2010 and they, too, are celebrating a return to the First Division.
Manager Colin Wake admitted it had been an amazing season, saying: “Promotion wasn’t in the plan at the start of the campaign, but since losing to South Shields in February we’ve dropped only a couple of points.
“We’ve had a squad of 22 all season and relied on all of them to bring their work rate and togetherness to all our games. They’ve done magnificently.”
The Cestrians travel to Northallerton Town for their final game hoping to make it 10 wins on the bounce, but they’ll need to do so without Matthew Smith, Mark Pattison, Jack Honour, Michael Allan, Aiden Ames and Sam Renwick.
Esh Winning will be guaranteed safety if they get a point at home to Alnwick, though their superior goal difference is almost certain to demote Birtley Town, who have one game left, at home to Ryhope CW, on Wednesday.