1995-96, 2009-10, 2010-11, and now – 2022-23. This season enters Boro’s pantheon of championship and promotion-winning campaigns.

But it feels different to the others. In 1996, Boro may have been in just their second Conference season, but we had finished fifth the season before. In 2010, we had finished in the top eight in each of the previous six seasons. In 2011, there was the winning momentum carrying us through.

This season had none of that. We began as favourites to be relegated, and had flirted with the drop in two of the previous three seasons.

It was only just over a year ago that some fans were suggesting that relegation to the National League would be a good thing, allowing us to rebuild. That was always nonsense – just think about how long it took us to get out of non-league after being denied promotion in 1996 – and it has now been proven to be so.

The Comet:

Steve Evans has transformed the club, almost overnight, from League Two strugglers, into a team that has earned its place in League One.

Remarkably, the core of the team includes a number who were formerly in that struggling team.

Luther James-Wildin, Luke Norris, Jake Reeves, Jamie Reid, Jake Taylor, and Terence Vancooten have all been Boro stalwarts in both of the last two seasons. Alex Revell, too, has shown loyalty through thick and thin.

That they’re now able to enjoy this promotion-winning moment is testament to their talent, character, and hard work - none more so than Luther.

He came to us as a relative youngster back in 2018, always evidently talented but often under the spotlight with some fans suggesting he wasn’t quite up to scratch. That has all changed this year, and those former critics have become admirers.

Of all the moments at the joyous Grimsby game, none brought me closer to tears than one involving Luther at the south end of the East Terrace. The clock was ticking down to the final whistle, and he came over to take a throw-in.

Suddenly, a spontaneous rendition of ‘Luther, Luther, Luther’ burst out from many of those around me.

I know, I know, it’s hardly on the same lyrical level as some of our other chants, but here it was directed at one of the club’s longest-serving players, who has been through it all with Boro yet very rarely heard his name sung.

Now here he was, grinning up at hundreds of fans cheering his name and delighting in his wonderful finish that had secured the win – and the promotion – for us.

The goal had been all Luther, not just scoring but winning the ball back in the first place and staying up the field to contribute to the attack he had created.

It was the result of sheer, dogged effort, the kind of effort that the entire team has shown over 46 league games – and those famous cup games – all season.

The Comet:

As the result of their perseverance sinks in, it becomes harder and harder to resist comparison with the famed Westley team of 2009-12 that won two promotions on the bounce, along with a cup upset and trips to Wembley.

Neither team was focused around one outstanding player, or a standout goalscorer. Instead, goals came from all over the pitch and from a wide variety of players. Everyone chips in.

Defensively, this season we had one of the best records in the league, and our best ever record in the Football League, all the more impressive given we were forced to use seven goalkeepers. At the heart of that defence was Carl Piergianni, our best leader since Mark Roberts, my boyhood hero.

When the 2009-12 team was broken up, I found it hard to believe that another Boro team could come close to the affection in which they were held.

Yet here we are. It’s no longer hard to believe. This team has given everything, against the odds, and achieved our highest ever finish in League Two.

Seeing what it meant to them at the full-time whistle against Grimsby – and for the entire night afterwards – showed how much they care, how much they’ve given, and revealed the deep bond they’ve created with our fans.

The scenes at Barrow only cemented this. Never before have I seen so many youngsters asking for the shirts of Boro players. Never before have I seen the entire squad go around and individually shake the hands of every fan. Yet here we are.

Discussions will be taking place now about who should stay and who should go. It’s a necessary discussion, but not an enjoyable one.

Every single player in the squad deserves their moment in the sun, and it will be sad to see any of them leave. Every one of them has written themselves into Boro folklore.

They have blessed us with a season that ranks among the best in our history.

There have been magical moments – the late winners in the league, the stunning comeback at Aston Villa, the 3-0 win against Leyton Orient.

The Comet:

But, for me, the overwhelming emotion has been one of relief.

Initially, it was relief that we wouldn’t be involved in a relegation dogfight again.

Then, it became relief that we had finally found a manager and squad that clicked.

The stress built up again as the run-in commenced, and as we had a bit of a wobble in February – frankly, the tension was such that I almost found myself yearning for mid-table mediocrity.

But the relief surged out again at two key moments.

The first was the full-time whistle away at Swindon, when we clung on to take home the three points from our game in hand – that was the moment when I truly believed that promotion was on its way.

And the second was Luther James-Wildin’s goal at home to Grimsby, cementing our League One place.

What a season we have had. All that remains is to thank the players, the gaffer, the coaching staff, and everybody involved with the club for everything that they have given to us this season.