CAMPION might just be the unluckiest team around.

Pipped to the Northern Counties East League Division One title on the final day of 2018/19, challenging for promotion with games in hand before 2019/20 was declared null and void, and 5-4 and 5-3 defeats late last year looking like costing them a Premier Division berth for next season.

But philosophical joint-manager Lee Ashforth said: "If it had gone different ways, like both seasons hadn't been called off, points per game for just this season, rather than both, or there'd have been relegation, we'd have been promoted.

"As it is there's only three teams going up and we're fourth in line.

"But I've spoken to (fellow joint-manager) James Bicknell and the committee and we've said, 'Let's go up by winning the league next season'.

"That's been the target for the last three seasons and it's the same again. We know we've been unlucky so we hope that changes soon."

It is possible that Emley, Winterton Rangers or Skegness Town could yet have their promotion applications rejected, and Ashforth said: "We'll still apply to go up.

"The club is putting everything in place ahead of the deadline in a few days.

"Everything is there for us to go up, the ground work needed for promotion is all done and our accounts are in order.

"If we go up by someone ticking a box, so be it. If not, we'll prepare for next season, and hope for a proper one."

Campion had won eight of their opening nine games in 2020/21, and if they had won their last two as well, they'd have been one of the three teams set for promotion.

But Ashforth said: "We don't want to have too many excuses. If you look at those games, we conceded 10 in two, more than double what we had in the previous nine, but these things happen and you can't look back and say 'if only'.

"We got away with a 1-0 win at Retford a few weeks earlier when they were the better team so it's swings and roundabouts.

"We went into those 5-4 and 5-3 defeats to win, like we do in every game we play, it doesn't matter if it's a cup final or a friendly.

"We've played Thackley, Eccleshill and Silsden behind closed doors over the last few weeks and are unbeaten, so we know we can compete at that higher level with them."

Another quirk which must frustrate Campion is that Emley, who were top of NCEL Division One when that stopped this season, were in the North West Counties League First Division North in 2019/20, so the majority of results that have aided their promotion bid were in a different league.

Ashforth said: "The Emley thing is disappointing but they were top of our league and were flying. They've done nothing wrong and I hope they do well in the NCEL Premier next season.

"It's normally an intense rivalry with teams competing with you, but I spoke to their manager Rich Tracey earlier this week, which was nice, and I know and get on with a lot of their players.

"We can't control any of the promotion stuff and James and I mustn't lose focus. We have to concentrate on winning games.

"It's going to be a tough league Division One next season, with teams like North Ferriby, and then Wakefield probably coming up. If that changes and we're in the league above, we can reset."

Ashforth hopes that reset will come with the majority of the current squad, though that is by no means guaranteed.

He said: "We've finished up with any friendlies now, we thought they were a bit of a waste of time, but other sides were keen so we felt we had to.

"But now it's open season really. You spend 10 months being best mates with your players and other managers, but then there's two months of stealing and stabbing each other in the back.

"But there's no fallout as that's just the way it is at this level.

"I'm good friends with Pat McGuire at Thackley but we'll probably spend the next two months trying to nick each other's players.

"We'll still do things by the book but it is a horrible time for bosses.

"The majority of the lads have told us they will stay but I've been around for 17 or 18 years in management at this level, and nothing surprises me."