Betting man Gary Lowe is backing Chester FC boss Neil Young to follow in his footsteps and win the Blue Square Bet North.
But the manager of last season’s champions Hyde has a word of warning for his friend – don’t rule Guiseley out of the running just yet.
Lowe knows how big a danger Steve Kittrick’s second-placed side could still pose to the table-topping Blues.
His Hyde team were cruising to the 2011-12 title after winning 15 of their opening 21 matches.
But given Guiseley’s superb form in the second half of the campaign, it was not until the penultimate weekend that Hyde finally secured top spot.
The Lions find themselves in a similar position this season.
They trail Chester by 13 points and realistically need to win all three of their games in hand if they are to set up another grandstand finish.
Lowe still has his money on Young and the Blues making it a hat-trick of promotions.
But he believes Guiseley, who have won 10 of their last 11 league outings, are not out of the race yet.
“If it wasn’t for Guiseley we would have the won championship with a month of the season left, which of course is what Neil could do,” said Lowe, whose Hyde side eventually finished five points clear of the runners-up.
“But Guiseley are one of the best teams I’ve seen this season. I know their manager Steve Kittrick well, he’s got good players, and they won’t give it to Chester.
“Steve has proved he won’t give up. Guiseley were miles behind us at one stage but they did have lots of games in hand.
“They kept winning them and chipping away at our lead and in the end they made it tough for us.
“I am a betting man, as Neil will tell you as we have a bit of a laugh giving each other tips, but Chester, at 1/7, are not much of a betting proposition. That shows what a fantastic job Neil has done.
“I think they will hang on although things can change quickly.”
Chester have taken an incredible 71 points from a possible 78, winning 23, drawing two and losing one of their 26 matches so far.
Lowe feels Young deserves credit for making the transition from Evo-Stik Northern Premier League to Blue Square Bet North manager appear so seamless.
But he has not been surprised by his old sparring partner’s success.
“There is no big secret – he’s a good manager and he’s got good players,” said Lowe, who took four points off the Blues in the 2010-11 season when he was in charge of Curzon Ashton.
“I imagine he’s got decent resources, which he’s used well, but when you’re at a club like Chester with the fantastic support they’ve got it probably enables Neil to get players who are not as expensive as you might imagine because he can sell them a dream that is realistic.”
Lowe managed Curzon Ashton for more than a decade before taking over the Hyde job in the summer of 2011.
He led the 50-1 title outsiders to a surprise Blue Square Bet North success but resigned from his position last May after failing to agree a playing budget for the coming season.
Chester, should they follow Hyde into the Blue Square Bet Premier, would also be up against clubs with far bigger resources.
But Lowe, who is itching to get back into management, said: “Neil shouldn’t be frightened of the Conference.
“He will no doubt have to change a few things but he’s already got a group of good players – like the young lad Antoni Sarcevic, who I think is a terrific prospect – and I think they could give a good show.”