The Midland Football Alliance
Published 26th April 2012
The Moatmen beat Willenhall Town 3-0 away on Tuesday evening to seal the Baker Joiner Midland Alliance title.
“Without a doubt it’s my proudest moment as manager,” said jubilant Gresley boss Norton.
“It’s such a hard league to get out of with there being only one promotion place.
“It’s even more special as it comes on the back of winning the title last year in the East Midlands Counties League. It’s still sinking in with everybody.”
The Moatmen will now be promoted back to Step 4 of the non-League Pyramid — where the club was before liquidation forced a two-step demotion.
That makes promotion even sweeter for Norton after he had to rebuild the squad from the ashes of Gresley Rovers.
“Three-and-a-bit years ago the team broke up after we beat Spalding,” he said.
“To go through that and come back to the level we were at is fantastic.
“It’s the minimum level we should be at with the support we’ve got.
“The crowds we’ve had in the last few years have been superb and I’m delighted for them.”
Norton reckons winning the East Midlands Counties League last season gave his side the experience they needed to win a difficult division where few defeats could be tolerated.
Last season, they had to win their final eight matches to secure promotion, and again this season Gresley had to be relentless to see off Coventry Sphinx and Westfields in the race for the title.
“We had to win eight on the bounce last year so I knew we had the experience in the squad to cope with what was expected,” said Norton.
“It’s okay talking about it, but doing it is another thing.” Norton also points to the 3-2 win over Westfields on April 2nd as the key point.
The Moatmen found themselves 2-0 down before winning 3-2 with a goal 5 minutes into stoppage time.
“The win against Westfields was massive, particularly the manner of it,” he said.
“We were 2-0 down after an hour before winning and that must’ve knocked the stuffing out of them.”
Norton’s own future is still up in the air, with his growing work commitments making managing a football club a delicate balancing act.
“I just want to let it sink in,” he said. “It’s about the club at this time, not me.
“I’m going to sit down with the chairman at some point and discuss it.”
Gresley will be presented with the Alliance trophy after their final game of the season at home to Alvechurch on Saturday.