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Jay Saunders leads tributes from Maidstone United old boys to Hakan Hayrettin's class of 2022

Former manager Jay Saunders was among those to congratulate Maidstone on winning promotion.

Saunders, now in charge at Margate, was the last man to take the Stones into the National League, beating Ebbsfleet on penalties in a thrilling play-off final, six years ago.

Maidstone United fans celebrate at full-time winning the National South title
Maidstone United fans celebrate at full-time winning the National South title

With the Gate’s season finished, he was at the Gallagher yesterday as Hakan Hayrettin’s side beat Chelmsford 3-1 to secure the title with two games to spare.

“Congratulations to Hak and all at Maidstone,” Saunders wrote on Twitter.

“So good to see the Gallagher buzzing again and the club back where it belongs.”

Saunders’ former players were also quick to pay tribute to the club’s success in winning the championship.

"Congratulations to everyone associated with the club," said ex-captain Steve Watt.

"Great to see the club going back in the right direction."

Goalkeeper Lee Worgan, part of the side who won back-to-back promotions as Isthmian Premier champions and National South play-off winners, said: “Congratulations to everyone at the club! Fully deserved and back to where it belongs!”

Blair Turgott, captain and 18-goal top scorer when Maidstone were relegated three years ago, said: “Unreal, this has made my weekend! Fully deserved, buzzing for everyone at the club, especially you fans.”

“Congratulations Maidstone, great achievement,” said Will De Havilland, now at Maidenhead. “Great to see you back in the National League.”

“Up the Stones,” said Alex Wynter, who Saunders signed from Colchester. “What a season. A great club on and off the pitch. More than deserved. Congratulations to all.”

“Congrats to the Stones, back where they belong,” wrote former midfielder Reece Prestedge, sentiments echoed by Alex Flisher who offered his “congratulations to everyone”.

Hayrettin received a personal voice message from Marc White, the owner-manager of title rivals Dorking, while Wanderers were also gracious on Twitter, writing: “Congratulations to Maidstone United on winning the National League South title.

“Well done to Oliver, Hakan, the players and supporters on a brilliant campaign.”

Maidstone were due in training today in preparation for their Bank Holiday Monday game at Welling.

The pressure is off but Hayrettin said he wants to finish the season on a high by winning the last two games.

United had already sold out their allocation at Park View Road before winning the title, and there will be a capacity crowd of 4,175 at the Gallagher next Saturday to see Maidstone presented with the trophy after the final game of the season against Hampton & Richmond.

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