As nightmare seasons go, Stowmarket Town may have unfortunately topped the lot in the top 10 tiers of the English game this campaign.

With just six points to show for in a league season of 36 games, the Old Gold & Blacks saw themselves relegated to Step 5, only finishing second from bottom due to East Thurrock folding and therefore sitting on 0 points.

To make the season even more disappointing, they had challenged at the top of the Isthmian League North Division table in recent years, having made the playoffs two years ago in Step 4 and narrowly missing out last term.

Ashley Nzala’s 90th minute winner for Brentwood Town in that semi final two seasons ago may now feel incredible costly to Stowmarket, who were so close to forcing extra time with every chance of making the playoff final.

The Suffolk based club drew six times in the league season, but were on the end of heavy defeats, such as a 7-0 away defeat at Needham Market in November, and 6-0 losses against Lowestoft Town and Gorleston.

The worst defeat of all was against Brentwood, who smashed in nine goals against the sorry Stowmarket side.

Whilst it would be hard to argue that this is anywhere near ideal and naturally provides for a season to forget, perhaps this isn’t the disaster it seems it may be at a glance for Stowmarket.

With running costs at Step 4 and above rising significantly, several clubs at the level have struggled, with Loughborough Dynamo accepting a voluntary relegation down a rumoured four divisions, and East Thurrock and New Salamis folding as senior clubs entirely.

With that in mind, perhaps being more aware of the cost of staying up, and aiming to play where the budget Stowmarket have access to would carry further, isn’t a terrible idea.

There were hints of the struggles of the season being partly financial when the final day of the season ended, losing 4-0 to Enfield FC.

A reply from the club to a post joking ‘are we safe?’ after Stowmarket’s disappointing campaign said that ‘the survival of the club itself is primacy’.

This was added to by the club’s Director of Football Andonis Wolverson, who reacted to Stowmarket’s Step 5 league being announced by saying, “This is exactly what we needed at this stage.

“We’re ready to work to take Stowmarket Town forward but do it sustainably.”

The Eastern Counties Football League won’t be plain sailing for the newcomers, but they know they have a far better chance of competing in the league than they did in the previous one.

David Lorimer, who took the managerial role from Richard Wilkins in December following discussions with the board about the playing budget, will hope to guide Stowmarket Town back to glory.