Ellon Rugby have been promoted to the top Caledonia league.
The news came to the surprise and delight of shocked officials at the Aberdeenshire club who thought the best they could hope for was a play-off against Blairgowrie of Caley 2 Midlands.
Ellon head coach Sam Mountain said: “Last Saturday we were told, after our game with Ross Sutherland, that we could expect to be in a play-off after the SRU decided not to relegate Perthshire from National League 3 to Caley Division 1, which meant there would be a place to fill in the Caley set-up.
“As we finished second to Garioch in our league, Caley 2 North, and Blairgowrie finished runners up in their division, we were asked to play each other to decide who would go up.”
However, the Angus side declined the offer of another game, clearing the way for Ellon to join Garioch in the top local league where they will join Aberdeen Wanderers, making for a strong representation of north-east clubs.
The Ellon players turned up for training this week, believing they had one more game to play, only to be told they had been promoted due to Blairgowrie pulling out of the play-off.
“It’s not the way we would have wanted to go up, but I am delighted for the players who have worked hard all season, although the real hard work starts now,” added Mountain.
“It promises to be a good year, especially as we have former players coming back, and new ones stepping up to play next season.”
Fraser Burr, head coach with Aberdeen Wanderers, welcomed the elevation of two neighbouring clubs and said: “This gives the north-east a strong hand in a league that was in danger of being dominated by clubs from the south of the Caledonia area.
“All three clubs have big under-age sections which means we can plan for the future, and hopefully be pushing for promotion in years to come.
“Highland, Gordonians and Caithness have all come up through this division to go on to the national leagues.”