Eastleigh captain Glen Southam has hailed the desire of his team to win the Conference South title.
In late February the Spitfires were sat well behind Bromley in top-spot. But they took advantage of an injury crisis at the Kent club, as well as a sharp dip in their form, to take over pole position after thrashing Dorchester 6-0.
Since then they have been in imperious form, having not dropped a point at home since late November.
Southam has paid tribute to that, saying: “It’s taken desire, adrenaline, and a will to win.
“It takes a lot of hard work to achieve what we have.
“If you don’t empty the tank and don’t give everything you’ve got for 42 games you don’t win things.
“You’ve got to hurt yourself; you’ve got to take yourself out of the comfort zone.
“Macca’s (striker Craig McAllister) played with knocks, I’ve played with knocks, Dean Beckwith was playing a knock at Bromley and got through it. That was a massive game, you just have to grit your teeth.”
The 33-year-old former Barnet and Dagenham & Redbridge midfielder recognised the impact of individual moments of magic that helped Eastleigh cross the finish-line.
“Whenever we’ve needed someone to come up with something great, someone always did,” he said.
“There’s been a few, Lee Peacock for one – credit to him when he got us the win against Dover. It’s all of those single acts that have combined make up to something like this.”
Striker Ben Wright is another, arriving on loan from Salisbury City and making a huge difference, scoring 13 goals since his arrival in February. The 25-year-old also scored the second in the 2-1 over his hometown club Basingstoke on Good Friday that sealed Eastleigh’s title win “It wasn’t even a month ago that we were a lot of points behind Bromley and even with games in hand we couldn’t have gone top,” Southam added.
“Credit to these lads, the gaffer (Richard Hill), his coach (Guy Butters), Cookie (physio Andy Cook) and everyone involved in the club – they’ve all done their bit and this title is for them.”
Southam, who started his career in the youth set ups at Tottenham and Fulham, gave praise to his boss Richard Hill.
“He is great,” he said, “It’s tough because he’s been on a hiding to nothing with this job.
“Everyone just talks about budgets and that it’s a foregone conclusion that we should win every game or about the players we’ve got.
“It’s not that easy. You’ve seen Luton for the last five six years, Wrexham and others in the Conference who have big budgets.
“If you haven’t got the players that are willing to put in the hard work day in day out on the training ground, it just goes to show it doesn’t matter what money you pay they won’t perform.”
Southam is glad that his team can move on from the play-off semi final heartbreak of last season, when they lost to Dover Athletic on penalties.
“It was a great day, it really was,” he said of beating Basingstoke. “A year ago we had a massive disappointment at Dover but the team have come back stronger and kicked on.
“Going into this season there was only one aim, but it’s been tough because everyone we’ve played have wanted to beat us and raised their game. But when the time has come for someone to produce something, they have.
“Since we lost to Concord we’ve gone 12 games unbeaten (prior to losing 1-0 at Havant on Easter Monday) and that’s some going, especially at this point in the season with pressure on you as well.”