Stalybridge Celtic FC, hoped for a great new era in a new millennium.
The start of the new century provided an opportunity to look back on past success and ahead, with some optimism, as to what could be achieved in the future. The journey to this point, from early ambition and progress since formation, to having achieved Football League status and the many fantastic memories created for all who had this place in their hearts in between, had given something that all could be very proud of.
Without any shadow of a doubt, the 2000/2001 season was to become the best, certainly in recent times and in most peoples eyes surely the greatest in history, as all before were swept aside.
Right from the outset, it was quite clear that this was a force to be reckoned with but a combination of factors, with the pressures of cup commitments and postponements, created a fixture backlog and led to a subsequent feeling of always playing catch up, which perhaps, crucially, helped to ease the pressure somewhat.
Occupying one of the top few spots, all campaign long, results and points were at times easily racked on the board and a two horse race began to develop with Emley, who were defeated relatively early doors in a classic 4-2 home victory.
Faced with that second half major fixture pile up, whilst rivals had points in the bag, it seemed as if things were conspiring to fall just short but after a 2-0 away win at Bishop Auckland, at which the top of the table was reached, the race for the championship boiled down to a crunch clash away at Emley and a famous 3-2 victory secured, after a Cooke lob in the dying seconds (Ingham, Ward, Sullivan, Crookes, Filson, Bauress, Pickford, Parr, Scott, Jones, Locke)
The league title was clinched with a 1-0 victory away at Droylsden, again courtesy of a last gasp winner, this time thanks to Locke. When added to the earlier triumphs of a 5-1 demolition of Stockport County to win the Cheshire Senior Cup and victory over Blyth Spartans to lift the Presidents Cup, it meant a historic and unique treble.
It was a magnificent effort, where the commitment and endeavour of every player in the squad over the course of the season had come to the fore and was quite rightly lauded. The style of play was effective, results fully deserved and all were heroes.
Stalybridge Celtic FC, with their historic treble, had just achieved the best day ever in their history and in the process had managed to secure a thousand more precious memories.