SWINDON Wildcats general manager Steve Nell never stopped believing his side would go on to claim their first league title under his stewardship – even during a pre-Christmas slump in form.

After a strong start to the NIHL South One season, the Cats lost six of their nine games leading up to Christmas Day and were, at one point, potentially seven points behind Peterborough Phantoms in the table.

However, the re-introduction of Jonas Hoog on December 25 proved to be the best present Nell and his team could ask for as the Swede ignited a winning run that would ultimately prove vital.

But after their perfect 15-game streak in the league came to an end in a party-pooping 4-3 loss at home to Streatham on March 9, Swindon needed a 4-2 win over Bracknell Bees at the Link Centre on Saturday night to finally kick-start their title celebrations.

Nell said: “It’s been a long time in the planning, and we’ve been working at it for a long time.

“There’s a lot of people involved in it, so being called league champions sounds great.

“We worked really hard this year and it’s a competitive league – it’s going to be even more competitive next season.

“We want to win every time we play, whichever game it is. We’ve just got to keep going, try to get better and keep on our toes.

“We’ve got to reset and start again as we go for the play-offs. We’ve got a week to get ready, so I’m looking forward to that as well.”

Once post-Christmas fixtures had been resumed, the Cats only lost three games during the rest of the regular season in all competitions – a charity challenge loss and a South Cup semi-final defeat preceded the shock defeat to Streatham – as they stormed from midfield to wrap up the title with time to spare.

Former Swindon player Nell says his belief never waivered as history shows all teams suffer a lull in form at some point during the campaign.

He said: “We knew we were a good team, we knew we were in amongst it and we knew Peterborough would have a down time, as we had.

“We had to make sure we kept going, and we did. We made a couple of changes, we brought Jonas Hoog back, and that made the difference.

“The team got going and we went on an unbelievable run. To win 15 games in a row, that might be once-in-a-lifetime run.

“We still thought in November or December that we were in it. We knew that other teams would struggle because every team struggles at some point during the season.”