TNS BOSS Scott Ruscoe returns with the second part of his 2017/18 season review, from defeat to Newtown to winning the league...

I PLAYED it down at the time, but picking up that first trophy was a huge relief.

It was massive, honestly. Winning that League Cup against Cardiff Met was huge and even if we go on to win it for the next decade, it won’t mean anything less than winning it as a player did. I still got the buzz and while its one we’ve always done well in, it’s still a great competition to win.

I’m joking here obviously, but we’ve won it that much we should get to keep it. Seriously though, any competition you play in, you want to be proud of it and go all out to win it and you saw that through the teams we played in it.

The final was where our star players stepped up. Jamie Mullan, our player of the season, ran the show and was outstanding, scoring the winner to boot.

Paul Harrison, my skipper and our long-standing keeper, made two outstanding saves while Blaine Hudson, in his first season, was superb. We passed Cardiff off the pitch and I think it was an 8/9 out of 10 performance.

No-one was going to get near us; there was plenty of talk about Cardiff Met causing an upset but we dominated the game and even felt like men against boys.

Back in the league, we had built up a bit of a lead but we did drop points against Cefn Druids.

But where the league was won, for me, was our results against our perceived title rivals, even though we steadily built up a seven, eight, nine and then 12-point gap.

We beat Connah’s Quay away 1-0 before we then beat Bala Town and Bangor City at home, both times 3-0. The performances were so good, showing that on a decent pitch, these teams couldn’t get near us.

When we go to Connah’s Quay, where the pitch is a bit heavier, we’ve always go to do something different. But that night we went there and picked up that 1-0 win, the league was all over for me.

I said that straight after too because it was done. They then had to come at us from then and they never really got near us.

From there, it was just a matter of time but we could have won it a lot earlier had we beaten Cardiff instead of drawing. Strangely, we beat Bala the following week but because of the draw at Cardiff, we couldn’t win it until we had Cefn at Park Hall on a sunny Sunday afternoon in March.

It wasn’t the sort of day where we wanted a close game, to be honest. We wanted a party with a great atmosphere and that’s what we got with a decent crowd.

We played really well and scored some fantastic goals, plus the added bonus of Greg Draper, who’s up for Welsh Premier League player of the season, grabbing his 100th goal for the club with four great finishes.

It was great all-round; for Greg on a personal note and for TNS to receive their recognition in front of the Sgorio cameras.

To win the seventh straight title and my first as manager was great, a very pleasing day. We had to work hard for it and we never took anything for granted while that day was our reward for all that hard work.

It was such a great day – I got to take pictures with my kids on the pitch with the massive Welsh Premier League trophy, and the TNS Ladies were there too after they had a great cup run as well. All year we’ve been saying TNS is one club, for the men, ladies and youth and that day showed it.

Our end of season awards was great but to see our players getting up there the next day to present awards to the academy shows we’re inspiring the next generation.

It’s a family environment and we want more fans from Oswestry coming to watch us because the quality of the football we play is above our current station. Yes, of course I’m biased but I maintain that if we were to get a League One side to come and play us, they wouldn’t dominate us.

They wouldn’t pass us off the pitch; we would stand up against them and fight. We probably wouldn’t cope with that week in, week out, but on a one-off basis, we could take them on and challenge anybody. That’s why we do OK in Europe. We can improve and I challenge us to, but we’re working on our strengths and our stamina to go into European competition to challenge these players and teams.

Yes they have stronger, fitter lads but they’re worth more money. However, having a big heart and running is all very well but you need that technical ability.

On a personal note, it’s not been too stressful and I don’t think I’ve lost too much hair, though I didn’t have much to start with!