IF a Roy of the Rovers writer had gone into his editor with a story based on Braintree Town’s season, he would probably have been shown the door, writes RON FOSKER.

Five points from their first six games and then get promoted? Nah.

Two 3-0 defeats by their closest rivals over Christmas and then remain undefeated for 14 matches? Surely not.

End the season with a toothless draw against soon-to-be-relegated Taunton, a less than convincing 2-1 win at already relegated Havant and Waterlooville and finally a feeble defeat against almost relegated Eastbourne. But still play well enough to win the play-offs? Pull the other one.

Then all three play-offs go to extra time? Braintree win the first one with a goal in the last but one minute?

Then beat those closest rivals who’d already beaten them 3-0 twice?

And after losing a 2-0 lead with goals in the 89th and 91st minutes?

And then all we need is another high-scoring final also going to extra-time?

And a win against a team who had won their previous six matches?

And I suppose you’re going to say that they grabbed the winner with a spectacular diving header.

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Well, yes, actually And, yes, actually, that is what happened – to a team who spent 2020, 2021 and 2022 fighting off relegation – and probably would have gone down had it not been for Covid.

Any Iron fan who predicted that the season would end with promotion after the first six matches would have been accused of having the rosiest of rose-tinted glasses.

The spell was broken, ironically, with a 4-0 win over future play-off final opponents Woking.

That led to a seven-match unbeaten league run that was ended, as was the later 14-match run, by league champions Yeovil.

The league run was interrupted by a disappointing FA Cup defeat by Southern League Premier South side Chesham United, a result leavened slightly by the fact that their opponents went on to win their league.

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The seven-match run pushed Braintree up the league table and into the top half, helped by three consecutive convincing home wins against Havant and Waterlooville (4-1), St Albans (4-0) and Welling (4-1).

A defeat at lowly Eastbourne in the middle of that run kept feet grounded but it was the humiliating 3-0 defeats against Chelmsford over Christmas that looked set to ruin the season.

Instead that was the starting point for the long unbeaten run and illustrated what has proved to be the club’s outstanding strength, resilience in the face of adversity, a quality starkly displayed in the play-offs.

To win three consecutive very tight matches in extra time takes a special kind of strength, mental and physical.

Waiting until two minutes before the end of extra time to score the only goal against Bath City in the eliminator was small beer compared to the incredible willpower and strength of character needed to come back from the heartache of seeing a two-goal lead in the semi-final disappear with goals in the 88th and 91st minutes – exactly the same times, incidentally, that Real Madrid scored their goals to beat Borussia Dortmund last week, possibly the only time a Braintree match can be compared to a Champions League semi-final.

It was Braintree’s first win over their closest rivals since 2010-11.

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Resilience was needed again in the final when Iron had to come back from a 2-1 deficit and from seeing a 3-2 lead slip away.

Somehow manager Angelo Harrop has instilled a remarkable backbone in the side, exemplified by recording the fewest goals conceded in the division.

Iron’s strong sides in the past have often been founded on a strong centre back pairing - Ollie Adedeji and Paul Lorraine in the 2006 Isthmian league-winning side, Matt Paine and Adam Bailey-Dennis in the side that won the Blue Square Bet South, as it was then, in 2011 – and so it was this season with Joe Grimwood and, for most of the season, Ben Tompkins repelling most of what came their way.

The resilience factor came to the fore again when Tompkins was injured against Yeovil in March and Trent Rendall had to be drafted in quickly on loan from Queen’s Park Rangers.

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Never quite the rock that Tompkins had been, he was nonetheless an important part of the run-in and was even named in a National League South team of the week. Grimwood gained the higher honour of making the division’s team of the year, alongside keeper Jack Sims, who was outstanding in goal and put himself in the spotlight with superb saves at vital moments in both the semi-final and final of the play-offs.

It was something of a surprise that neither of them gained the supporters’ player of the year award, but few could object to that being won by the mercurial Aaron Blair, sometimes frustrating, sometimes brilliant, and a major factor in the season’s success after he returned to the club in September.

The National League South’s choice for manager of the year was Angelo Harrop and it was welcome and encouraging news to read last week that he had signed a new contract for next season, when the club plans to go full-time for the first time in its history.

How that will work out remains to be seen but if anyone is going to avoid the fate of Brad Quinton’s team that came straight back down after the last promotion in 2018, then Harrop looks to be the man.