At a club with an illustrious history the clubhouse at Adie Moran Park is adorned with the names and faces of legends of Heys past.
However, the class of 2016 can now proudly take their place alongside those greats after delivering the most successful season in the club’s history.
A first team treble and Reserve team double brought five trophies to the club, capped by achieving the long held dream of a return to the North West Counties League after a 30-year absence.
After the disappointment of missing out last season, Heys took that knock on the chin and redoubled their efforts on and of the pitch.
Although goals were set, promotion as Champions the chief one, no one could have dared to believe that things would turn out as they did.
In truth though, Heys set out their stall from the beginning. Pre-season wins over FC United and Radcliffe Borough hinted at the promise within.
When the season started Jon Lyons’ team were quick out of the traps. An opening day trip to AVRO, always one of the toughest games in the calendar, saw Heys produce some great football to win 3-1.
By the end of August Heys had played five games, three of which were against what turned out to be the teams who finished second, third and fourth. Eleven points were picked up putting Heys two points behind Hindsford – the signs were already there.
September opened with a stunning 6-4 win over Walshaw at Adie Moran Park. The visitors led 2-0 inside the first 20 minutes. However, what followed took the breath away. Heys pulled one back with a Max White free kick in the 25th minute to set in motion a dazzling display of attacking football that saw Heys lead 4-2 by half time and 6-2 on the hour. It was the first real sign of the devastating attacking power this side held but it was to be repeated several times throughout the season.
Against Atherton Town in January Heys scored five goals in seventeen minutes in a 7-1 win. The following month, four goals in seven minutes saw a 1-0 deficit turned into a 6-1 win over Manchester Gregorians.
Those wins came after a lengthy lay off due to the heavy rains that scarred the season. From early November until 9th January Heys didn’t kick a ball.
The break was bookended by games against Boothstown. The last one before the break saw Heys win 4-0 to lead the table by six points. On their return to action Heys won 5-0 to show the break had left no ill effects, although they did suffer their first defeat of the campaign seven days later, losing in the last minute 3-2 to AFC Monton.
The enforced break had seen Royton Town make up ground at the top by virtue of being able to keep playing on their all-weather pitch.
When the Oldham side beat Heys 4-1 in mid-February they went three points clear at the top and although Heys had three games in hand the momentum seemed to have shifted.
With three tough games to follow against other title contenders Heys hopes faced their biggest test. However, seven days later Hindsford were dispatched 6-3 in a game in which Heys again showed their attacking power.
A trip to a resurgent Rochdale Sacred Heart a week later started badly, a goal down inside a minute. Heys were not at their best but with half an hour left Darius Photiou bagged a rare goal to bring them level. When Jamie and Mark Baguley added others to make for a 3-1 win further elements of what culminated in their eventual success had been shown. The strength of their squad and its overall contribution in all areas and the ability, even when things weren’t going their way to find a way to win.
As March opened and the run in loomed Heys were still in a battle at the top. Dukinfield arrived at Adie Moran Park in a rich vein of form and sat four point behind Heys. In an intense, high tempo battle Heys prevailed with a 2-0 win to go ten points clear of their opponents and two ahead of Royton, who were showing signs of wobbling, with three games in hand.
In many ways it was a break through victory. A demanding set of fixtures had seen Heys pick off their challengers and emerge in a stronger position. It gave them added belief that this could be their season.
Ten points from four away games followed to put the title within reach. In between Heys held their nerve to win a Gilgrsyt Cup semi-final at Stockport Georgians on penalties and book a Bolton Hospital Cup Final appearance with a 3-2 win over CMB Sports.
However, the demanding fixture list was showing signs of taking its toll and when a patched up side lost 4-2 at Springhead in mid-April the silverware still seemed a long way off. However, Royton’s shock defeat at home to Walshaw was to open the door for Heys.
A nervy last gasp 2-1 win over Stockport Georgians and a clinical 3-0 win at Hindsford put Heys on the cusp of title glory.
The Premier Division crown was secured on 26th April with a 3-0 home win over Wythenshawe Amateurs with the trophy presented four days later after a 4-0 win over AVRO – the side against whom the quest had started.
It was to prove only the beginning though. Heys kept their foot to the floor to win the League by 13 points. More glory followed. The Bolton Hospital Cup was secured with a 1-0 at the Macron Stadium over Atherton Collieries.
On May 12, despite a weary performance, the League and Cup double was secured with a 1-0 win over Manchester Gregorians in the Gilgryst Cup Final. It was another example of the resolve that ran though the squad throughout the season. For all the plaudits for their football Heys had an underlying grit. They conceded only 29 goals in 30 league games and kept a club record for consecutive clean sheets in their last seven matches.
The same night also saw confirmation of promotion to the North West Counties League. And yet the story was still not complete.
The Reserves had also been having a monumental season. An unbeaten run that had started on September 14 2014, the previous season - under Jeff Kavanagh’s title winning team was continued on to April 2nd 2016 by Matt Jolly and his side. The 38 game run was ended by a 1-0 defeat at East Manchester.
Despite that solitary defeat, an impressive Stockport Georgians pushed Heys to the limit and when they triumphed 5-1 on the last weekend of the season it left Matt Jolly’s side needing to win their last two games.
The Open Trophy had been secured earlier in the month with a penalty shoot-out win over Rochdale Sacred Heart. To complete the double Elton Vale stood in the way. A 5-1 win at Vale set the scene for a last match of the season decider at Adie Moran Park.
An early Greg Wills goal set Heys on their way to a 10-1 win and the title was secured by two points with a massive 76 points out of 90.
A spectacular end to an astonishing season.