Seventeen years is along time, reflected Jed-Forest’s director of rugby, Ali Campbell, as he contemplated the fact the Riverside club is just 80 minutes away from a possible return to BT Premiership action.
Jed face Glasgow Hawks at Lasswade on Saturday at 3pm in a play-off to determine who will line up next season in the top division.
For the Borders side, it would be a deserved reward for a very consistent campaign in League One, in which they finished behind champions Edinburgh Accies, only on points difference, on the last day.
Jed lost just one league game all season and were the only side to defeat Accies, who won all their other matches.
Campbell would love a step back up to the Premiership for the first time since 2001, and the confidence is abundant – but he knows it’s a formidable task.
“The boys are certainly looking forward to it and it will be an interesting game,” he said. “It will be a great test for us against Glasgow Hawks – they are the Premiership club and will certainly not want to get relegated.”
Jed had set the play-offs as a minimum target for this season, said Campbell – they had accomplished that and now had a huge chance to get to the BT Premiership.
“The boys are up for it, the preparation is going well, so we’ll just see what Saturday brings.”
Campbell indicated Jed were ready for a crack at Premiership opposition to get a flavour of where they might be next season, after running Accies so close.
“After us winning at Dundee HSFP and Edinburgh Accies winning the league down at Selkirk, it felt like a defeat,” he said. “Really small margins cost us the league.
“Don’t get me wrong – Edinburgh Accies are a quality side and deserve to be up there.
“It was good for everyone that it went down to the last game of the season. Everybody had something to play for.”
Campbell added Saturday’s game would be a benchmark for Jed-Forest, playing against a good side from over the years.
“They (Glasgow Hawks) are a well established side and a well drilled side, so it’s good to test ourselves against them, “ he said. “If we get promoted, we know what to expect week in, week out.
“I’d rather maybe taste it before we get up there – but we’ll see. The boys are certainly confident.”
There would be undoubted pressure and nerves affecting both sides on the day.
“Everybody handles pressure in different ways but these (Jed-Forest) boys are all mates,” said Campbell.
“There are no incomers or anything – they are all really good friends. They play together and they go out together, and that bodes well for Saturday.
“Nerves will play a part for both teams and it’s who handles it best on the day that will win it, and who wants it the most.”
Campbell added Jed would be taking along their strongest available squad of 22.