By Jamie Durent
Mon 28th May 2012 : 10:33
Following a season of unprecedented success at Coach Lane, Team Northumbria boss Paul Johnson was named the Northern League's Manager of the Year at the League's annual dinner.
It has been a season that few will ever be able to match at Northern League level with a League and Cup double and two near misses in the Ernest Armstrong and Northumberland Senior Cup finals.
Speaking at the beginning of the season, Johnson declared his intention to win the title after a positive end to the 2010/11 campaign that saw TN finish fifth in the Northern League Second Division.
And despite a few bumps along the way his prophecy came good as Gavin Donoghue lifted the Second Division trophy at Coach Lane following the triumph over Whitehaven.
Johnson cut his teeth in the youth coaching ranks of the North-East's two biggest clubs before taking up the managerial role at TN back in 2001.
Back then the club was only two years old and languishing in the Northern Alliance Second Division, playing as Northumbria University before taking the 'Team Northumbria' moniker in 2003.
Johnson guided the side to back-to-back promotions before winning the Northern Alliance Premier in 2006 to earn a place in the Northern League for the first time.
Seasons of steady progression saw them attain fifth position in 2011 and defeat Chester-le-Street Town on penalties to win the Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup for their first silverware in the Northern League. It would be a sign of things to come.
An unbelievable season has seen the team reach all three cup finals available to them, including a trojan-like display against Newcastle United reserves greeted with the agony of a penalty shootout defeat.
TN narrowly lost out to Northallerton Town in the Ernest Armstrong Cup final this season but capped off the campaign with a 4-1 disposal of losing FA Vase finalists West Auckland Town, sending out a message to all next season's opponents in the process.
Johnson has already begun plotting and scheming for TN's adventures in the First Division next season and set the lofty target of a top 10 finish. But given the fact his previous prediction came true, who's to say this one won't?
Despite the accolades he receives Johnson will be first to praise the work of his coaching staff Terry Mitchell, Ken Richardson and Graeme Carrick. Their hard work behind the scenes helped Johnson mould his team into the title-winners they became.
The squad itself clearly loves playing for Johnson and their desire to play in every game of a long and winding season dictates that he has instilled an ever-present will-to-win in every single member of his squad.
Alongside Northern League duties Johnson also handles the BUCS side and guided them to a national cup semi-final where they were edged out 2-1 by the University of Bath.
Given the campaign and packed calendar he has endured the season Johnson will be entitled to a rest this summer. But I wouldn't bet on him taking one.
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