When Huddersfield YMCA embarked on their first ever National III North campaign four months ago, the club simply didn’t know what to expect.
It was a massive step into the unknown, with questions raised over whether the squad would have what it takes to compete at the highest level in the club’s history.
The coaching staff were keeping faith with virtually the same squad that had secured promotion from North I East three months earlier.
But would it be good enough?
At the halfway stage of the season, the answer is definitely ‘yes’.
In fact, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the Laund Hill club could finish in the top six – a home win over Wirral on January 3 will have already confirmed their status as a National III North side next season – especially if they get all their troops together at the same time.
So far, that’s never been achieved.
But player-coach Mark Whitehead knows if he does, then anything is possible.
“We were pretty confident this squad would be good enough,” said experienced back-row forward Whitehead.
“But because we’d never competed at this level before we obviously didn’t know exactly what to expect.
“Fortunately, we’ve already shown we belong at this level and can focus on looking up rather than down.
“Finishing in the top six is certainly well within our capability, and if someone had told us at the start of the season that’s the way we’d have been thinking at Christmas we’d have been absolutely delighted.
“We’re all well aware we’ve still got some big challenges ahead of us this season, but it’s great to be heading into the New Year confident of building on what’s been a fantastic 2014.
“My one big hope in 2015 is that we can start to field a settled side, which is something we’ve so far been unable to do. If we manage to do that, then I know how much better we can be.”
Whitehead is particularly excited at the prospect of finally getting leading playmaker Ed Barber back onto the field.
“Even though we’ve made such a positive start, we’ve missed Ed,” added the coach.
“He missed the start of the season with a shoulder problem, and then immediately picked up a knee injury when he made his long-awaited return to action.
“As a result, we’ve not had the chance to see what Ed can do for the team in National III North. When we do, we know how much stronger we’ll be.
“He’s central to a lot of what we do, and we also know what a psychological lift it will give everyone when he does step back onto the field fully fit.”