Now former first-team manager Danny Grainger has reflected on his two years in charge at Borough Park in a final two-part interview.
Grainger, who took the reins at Reds in June 2019, oversaw a significant upturn in the club’s fortunes both on the field and off it.
The Penrith-born boss will now join Scottish third tier side Falkirk as gaffer Paul Sheerin’s assistant.
Ex-Reds no. 1 Tony Caig has also become the Bairns’ goalkeeping coach north of the border.
Grainger said a fond farewell to his players at training on Tuesday before sitting down to chat with us one last time.
Hardly needing a prompt, he began: “It was a obviously a difficult decision leaving somewhere that’s been so good to me.
“The players, board and fans have all been brilliant – I couldn’t have asked for a better for first job.”
On the move, having played most of his playing career in Scotland, Grainger said: “Falkirk is a massive opportunity for me and it was something that I just couldn’t turn down.
“I’m going to be working with people that I know and trust, making sure the club goes in the same direction as what it needs to.
“It’s a massive club, an SPL club – let’s be honest – and I’m excited to be part of it.”
Having just been relegated from the Premier Division, Grainger had the weight of expectation to bring Reds straight back up upon his arrival at Borough Park.
However, his impact stretched far beyond the white lines as the club came on leaps and bounds under his stewardship.
“The biggest thing for me is that I feel like I’ve left the club in a better place than it was when I arrived,” Grainger stated.
“That’s the main thing; there’s now vibe and positivity about the club.
“I had a meeting with the players on Tuesday night before I officially left and it was tough because they’re great lads.
“I said to them that I’ve been involved in good dressing rooms and bad dressing rooms but this is one of the best,” he remarked.
“I’m gonna miss them, they gave me everything week-in, week-out.
“It was such a tough decision.”
Despite two seasons being ruled null and void due to the FA’s response at our level to the COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of progress and memories were made on the pitch.
Although the sour taste remains, Grainger recalled the ‘absolutely fantastic experience.’
“Obviously the first season, we didn’t get our title that we deserved – being 10 points clear with seven games to go – and many managers have commented that it was a joke of a situation.
“But we dusted ourselves down, reset and were progressing again.
“There’s been some fantastic days,” he recalled.
“Kendal away, beating your local rivals 6-0 and having the fans behind the goals loving it, the Clitheroe game in which we scored late on to win it.
“There’s been so many games that you can look back at and say it’s been an absolutely fantastic experience.
“Every single one of the players has played their part in that,” Grainger affirmed.
“We created a culture where it wasn’t just about 11, it was about the squad.”
“Every single one of them bought into that and I can’t thank them enough.”
Part two is here