HARWICH and Parkeston manager Kieron Shelley says he and his players will learn from their experiences and come back even stronger next season.

The Shrimpers capped a glorious return to step six football by finishing fifth in Thurlow Nunn League first division south, ending with a 4-3 victory against Burnham Ramblers on Saturday.

They only missed out on fourth place because of a slightly inferior goal difference, compared to White Ensign.

Shelley was delighted with his side's progress - if a little disappointed not to finish even higher - and is already looking forward to the 2019/20 campaign.

“Losing twice in three days over Easter was a real killer for us," said the Harwich boss.

“In my eyes, we should have another four or six points on the board and it was doubly disappointing as other sides around us in the table dropped points.

“We would have gone into our last game sitting in third place.

“However, it was great to finish with a win and what a brilliant first season back at step six.

“We finished fifth in the table and what an achievement that is.

“We didn’t expect it at the start of the season but then again, when you’re on that high, you just want to keep going and keep pushing.

“If I didn’t have that in me, I’d be in the wrong game.

“If I’m not disappointed that we didn’t kick on then I’m not learning but I'm absolutely certain we'll benefit from our experiences and come back even stronger next season.

"This is only the start, on and off the pitch, and we'll be working hard to create a team that's challenging for honours and a club that's at the heart of its community.

"This is a club for the people of Harwich."

Shelley and assistant Mike Wallace have earned plenty of admirers this season, most notably when their side went on a 12-game winning run - equalling a post-war record - stretching from October to late-January.

"When we come to Harwich, we both walked away from our first meeting saying to each other that the club is even more than a sleeping giant," said Wallace.

"We saw that during our first midweek game against Holland, when there were over 300 fans.

"The support has continued throughout the season, with us having the highest average attendance for the season, with the pinnacle being 648 for our game against Little Oakley.

"We've been amazed by how the supporters have backed us throughout the season.

"For us, the highlight was celebrating the win away at Wivenhoe with a number of fans in the pub until late into the night."

Both Shelley and Wallace were also keen to thank the club's sponsors.

"Like every club at this level, it costs a lot to run a football club and without that support we wouldn't be where we are today," said Wallace.

"We hope those same people will carry on supporting us next season."