The wait is finally over as Spalding United face a fresh challenge at a higher level.
The Tulips head to Sutton Coldfield Town on Saturday for the first game of their Evo-Stik League First Division South campaign.
And the message is clear – Spalding won’t be settling for survival or mid-table mediocrity.
Chris Hall, the club’s longest-serving player, summed up the ambitions by saying: “We are not going to be happy with second best.”
He added: “This summer we have put together what looks like a very strong squad so we are quite hopeful of having a good season.
“When I arrived here, the main ambition was to get out of the United Counties League which we have done now.
“Pat Rayment has brought people in and out but that has worked by getting promotion.
“All the players who have been brought in still want to achieve things and do well.
“Over the last two seasons in the UCL we have always been tipped as favourites going into every game and with that comes a certain amount of pressure.
“We knew we were good enough to win that league. The big difference now is that we are going into a stronger league with plenty of other teams who are looking to get promoted as well.
“We are not going there just to enjoy it. We want to push on at the top end of the table.”
The experience of players like Hall should be vital for the Tulips’ prospects – although he admits to being unsure over the quality of their rivals and what to expect.
Hall added: “I’ve played at this level so I know what it’s all about.
“But I don’t know too much about the teams we will be coming up against this season.
“We expect the league to be competitive and we know we are going to clubs where the facilities and pitches are at a more professional level.
“We are certainly looking forward to the start of the season.
“Since the first pre-season training session this is what we have been aiming towards, even though the programme has been disrupted a bit.
“We will be going into the first league game on Saturday with confidence.”