Sutton & Epsom RFC are on the brink of history and a league title as they gear up for their final six games of the season.
The south London side are on a 13-game unbeaten run, stretching back to October 27, which is one game shy of the club’s longest league era winning streak, a record they set in the 2005/2006 season.
The streak has seen the side climb to the top of the London and SE Premier with 80 points, four points clear of this Saturday’s opponents Westcliff, and Wimbledon, who they also face in the run-in.
Head coach Mike Schmid said: “The players know, because they’ve learned from their poor performances, there are a lot of teams that can upset you, so you’ve got to be consistent.
“It’s something we’ve tried hard to replicate. It’s not always an easy task, but a lot of that has come from the players.
“It’s about searching for that feeling of the game finishing and you come away with a good result. That builds confidence.”
Schmid and Paul Hodgson, a former England international and Sutton & Epsom youth product, took over this season after last year’s 10th-placed finish.
Schmid said the two had moved training towards a game-based approach, allowing them to focus on one skill or tactic within the parameters of the game but also work on a number of other skills at the same time.
“The intensity and the skill improvement that’s been shown by the boys over the past six or seven months has been dramatic, which has been a big reason for our success,” said Schmid.
Despite starting the season with two good wins, they lost three of their next four games, including a 28-point loss to Hertford, but Schmid wasn’t concerned.
“I think it was coming and it took a few bumps in the road for the boys to realise that they were better than some of their performances and the results dictated,” he explained.
“My job is I want to sit back and watch them play well and love it, and there’s been lots of times I have been able to do that.”
A win on Saturday would leave the Cheam side at least eight points clear of Westcliff, and they would remain at least three points clear of Wimbledon.
It would also bring their winning streak level with their league era record, and keep alive their chance to break the clubs all-time record of 18 wins set in 1897 – a feat they can achieve if they win their remaining six games.
“The boys are just very concerned about performing this weekend and win, lose or draw, Paul and I are really happy provided they play as well as they can on the day,” added Schmid.