Iron face 'big ask' in National League - Harrop

Braintree Town manager Angelo Harrop says the club have a "mountain to climb" after winning their place back in the National League.

Monday's 4-3 emotional extra-time National League South play-off final win at Worthing lifted the Iron back to the fifth tier of English football for the first time since 2019.

“It’s a massive achievement for everyone involved with the club," Harrop told BBC Essex.

"We don’t do anything easy at Braintree.

"Three play-off games going into extra-time, with all the drama and the highs and lows, is why we love football.

“My wife tells me I’m not an emotional person but after Monday’s game I sort of broke down as I’m so happy to get over the line.

"But while it’s exciting we know it’s a mountain to climb. It’s going to be a big, big ask for us.”

Promotion 'hasn't really sunk in yet'

This is Braintree's third promotion to the fifth tier.

They were first promoted to what was then the Blue Square Premier under Rod Stringer in 2011, spending six years there until being relegated in 2017.

That came a season after reaching the play-offs in 2015-16 after finishing third, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Grimsby Town in the semi-finals under the management team of Danny and Nicky Cowley.

After relegation in 2017, Braintree did get back there a year later in 2018 under Brad Quinton when they won three times in the play-offs, all away from home, at Hemel Hempstead, Dartford and Hampton & Richmond.

But they were woefully underprepared and underfunded to compete back at the higher level - and came back down again within 12 months, having parted company with their manager along the way.

Having finished fifth this season, three points behind Worthing who they beat in the final, Harrop's side went up on the back of just two defeats in their last 21 matches, including a seven-game winning run and 10 unbeaten away.

But now they face the question of how much to invest in the 2024-25 campaign - and whether to go full-time.

“The ideal for me would be to go full-time with Braintree," said Harrop, son of former Torquay United and Colchester United youth team boss Geoff Harrop.

"But that has to be a board decision.

"The journey we have been on, having to recruit almost a completely new side, means it hasn’t really sunk in yet.

“I don’t really know where to start planning for next season. I spoke to the Dorking manager, Marc White, and he told me you can’t mess about at the level, you have to do things properly.

“I work in schools and the players all have day jobs so we have to put a plan into practice."