After the final whistle sounded at the Britannia Stadium, I drifted out of my local pub in a daze, feeling a cocktail of different emotions, writes Neil Coleman of Radcliffe .

But the sensation that surprised me the most was the unexpected but genuine feeling of relief. The ordeal was over. The disastrous season we’d all struggled through had finally lurched to a close. And I was relieved.

The relief was due to the fact we’d finally been put out of our misery. The season had been littered with incident, injury, tragedy and more than one false dawn. An end had been put to our torment and while I was gutted we were no longer part of the elite, I took comfort that the single most painful season of football I have ever encountered was over. Like everyone else though, I initially apportioned blame, bemoaned form and luck, and cited the emotionally draining effect Muamba’s cardiac arrest must have had on everyone connected with our club.

But as the days and weeks passed, frustration subsided and another unexpected feeling started to surface – optimism. The noises coming out of the Reebok were encouraging. In the region of 15 players left the club, many of whom probably didn’t want to be there anyway. Lee and Mears had recovered from injury and Holden was back on the mend. Four or five youngsters were being hailed as good enough to threaten the first team this coming season, and Muamba might be able to play again. This was followed by Championship steel and experience being added in the form of Andrews and Mills, and all of a sudden our current squad is looking comfortably better than the Premier League squad that was relegated.

Real, tangible optimism. Our attack will score goals, our defence will retain clean sheets, and our midfield will simply maraud over that of other teams. We’re going to enjoy regular wins, home and away. Visiting the Reebok will be something to get excited about and savour again. Burnley away simply cannot come soon enough…..