DAVE McNabb can scarcely believe the position his Warrington Rylands side find themselves in.

Today, the club’s rapid rise through the leagues could hit a new high by securing their third promotion in four years.

Victory over Bootle at Gorsey Lane this afternoon will seal the Northern Premier League West Division title – something McNabb says his side had ‘no right’ to even consider in pre-season.

A run of just one defeat in 18 matches since the turn of the year has brought them to the edge of glory and now, it is up to them to finish the job.

“I’m massively proud of the way the lads have performed,” McNabb told the Guardian.

“Going back to the beginning of February, they’ve been nothing short of unbelievable.

“In that time, we’ve had games where we’ve blown teams away but we’ve also had play on difficult or challenging pitches.

“You’ve got to have different ways of winning – the lads have shown how much quality they have on the ball but also how resolute and professional they are.

“If you look at the results between losing at Leek in December and now, it’s nothing short of sensational.

“It’s absolutely ridiculous – no team has the right to win that many games consistently in this league that is so challenging.”

McNabb’s words are backed up by the numbers – of the 18 games his side have played since the 3-0 loss at Leek he mentions, 15 have ended in victory.


Blues have won 15 of their last 18 league games. Picture by Mark Percy

Blues have won 15 of their last 18 league games. Picture by Mark Percy


And as such, pre-season title favourites Marine and Workington were gradually reeled in and overhauled.

Having ended a Covid-shortened 2020-21 season in memorable fashion by lifting the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium, could this possibly surpass that feeling?

“This would be a bigger achievement for me than Wembley – 100 per cent,” McNabb insisted.

“Obviously, you can’t replicate the feeling of winning at Wembley and winning a competition 600-odd teams have entered, but the league is the bread and butter.

“We’ve got no right to be in a position to possibly win this league.

“The teams that have done so before this year are phenomenal, massive clubs with really big fan bases and infrastructure.

“We’re still growing in all of those aspects.

“You assess yourself against other teams and the way Workington had performed in the two Covid-shortened seasons meant we knew they would be up there. We saw them as being favourites.

“Then Marine off the back of their FA Cup run and the money that generated, they put some of that back into the squad and they were already a very, very good side.

“Our goal was to try and get into the play-offs, as high up as we could but ultimately, we were happy to get into fifth and go through the roulette.”


Warrington Rylands memorably won the FA Vase at Wembley last year. Picture by Mark Percy

Warrington Rylands memorably won the FA Vase at Wembley last year. Picture by Mark Percy


However, there is a job still to do.

While Rylands' fate is in their own hands, a slip-up would open the door for second-placed Workington – who are a point behind and face a more straightforward task away at rock-bottom Market Drayton Town – to snatch the trophy from them.

And having beaten one of the two teams they were promoted to this level with in 1874 Northwich on Easter Monday, they now face the other in Bootle in front of what the Blues manager hopes will be a bumper Gorsey Lane crowd.


Rylands beat todays opponents Bootle 4-2 in Decembers reverse fixture. Picture by John Hopkins

Rylands beat today's opponents Bootle 4-2 in December's reverse fixture. Picture by John Hopkins


“It’s going to be an unbelievably tough game,” McNabb said.

“I’ve got a lot of time for the people at Bootle – we’ve had a lot of rivalry over the past few years.

“I know they don’t have a lot to play for in terms of the league, but they will have pride.

“The way the fixtures have worked out, our last two games are against the teams that got promoted with us.

“With Bootle and 1874, we’ve got that little bit of a competitive rivalry from previous seasons.

“It’s up to us to keep the lads’ feet on the floor and make sure they’re fully prepped to go out and put on a performance.

“We want to get as many people through the door for every game.

“With the brand of football we’re playing – we’ve scored not far off 100 goals – you’d like to think people will be entertained coming to watch us.

“A lot of family and friends will be there, but we’re hoping for a bumper crowd to get us over the line.”

Today’s game kicks off at 3pm.