Shillong, Sep 30: Just months after considering closing down their football team entirely, Laban SC, the oldest of its kind in Meghalaya, are rejoicing after securing a spot for themselves in next year’s Shillong Premier League.

After playing their full nine matches in the First Division 2018, Laban are guaranteed a top two finish as they’ve bagged 20 points with only one team – Imson – still mathematically in the running to overtake them.

“We are thrilled and excited to reach the SPL. It’s a dream come true for the people of Laban,” club President Sammy Myrthong told TSR over the phone today. “I thank the players and the coach, who’ve given everything, and thanks to the all the club management.”

The First Division points table as it stands on 29th September

It was their 3-1 victory over Marbisu on Saturday that assured Laban of their SPL spot.

The start to the season, however, didn’t bode well for Laban. Their very first game on 18th July had them 3-1 down to Nongkrem before they scored twice to end the contest 3-3. They then played out a boring goalless draw against Rising FC before losing to Imson 1-0, but things just took off from there and they won all of their next six fixtures.

Even before the campaign began there were fears that Laban would have to pull out because of a paucity of funds.

“Before the season began we thought that maybe we wouldn’t be able to continue due to financial constraints, but thanks to a few good friends and well wishers we were able to carry on,” Myrthong said. “And that was on the back of the sacrifices made by the team. We proved that money isn’t everything in football. You also need hard work, dedication, commitment and sacrifice to succeed.”

After struggling their way up from the Third Division a few years ago, Laban became stuck in the First Division as other teams managed to make their way up to the SPL; last year they narrowly missed out on promotion by a couple of points.

This year they’ve been able to do it, however, and the next challenge awaits as promoted teams in the past have often had a rough road in the SPL. But right now Laban aren’t thinking of that.

“We had hoped to reach the SPL sooner but this is the right time for us. We’ve had good players before but were never able to make it through. This year we did and congrats to the players and this is just the start of something beautiful, we feel,” Myrthong concluded.

(TSR photo)

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