AFTER making the decision to quit junior football for a crack at the senior pyramid, Kelty Hearts have enjoyed a landmark 12 months.

The New Central Park club, under the management of Thomas Courts, secured their second Super League title in three seasons last year before making the move to the East of Scotland League for the 2017-18 campaign.

Ambitions to compete for a place in the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL), and attain membership of the Scottish Football Association (SFA), led to them joining the sixth tier of the senior set-up.

Kelty made a flying start to their new surroundings and, in an astonishing season, won 23 out of their 24 games, scoring an incredible 143 goals in the process.

Despite those statistics, they were pushed all the way by Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, who finished just two points behind as Courts’ men secured the title and a play-off match for a place in the Lowland League.

A convincing 10-0 aggregate win over South of Scotland champions Threave Rovers got the promotion party underway as Hearts progressed into a league that offers the possibility of earning a place in SPFL League Two.

In a division with teams such as Spartans, East Kilbride, East Stirlingshire and Gretna 2008, Kelty opened their campaign with a 2-2 draw at home to Dalbeattie Star and a 6-0 thrashing of Whitehill Welfare before losing 3-2 to Cumbernauld Colts.

For their maiden Lowland League season, Courts has chosen to keep faith with the majority of his squad, signing just four players so far.

Brothers Chris and Matty Gay arrived from Kennoway Star Hearts, as did Willis Hare, from Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, and Selkirk defender Ciaren Chalmers.

Four stellar names, however, left the club in the shape of Jordyn Sheerin, who joined Cowdenbeath; Jason Penman and Sean O’Neil, who signed for Dundonald Bluebell; and Neil McCabe, with Grant Henderson also moving to Crossgates Primrose on loan.

Kelty’s decision to move into the senior set-up brought a 38-year association with junior football to an end.

Formed in 1975 as an amateur side, the club were admitted to the Fife region of the Scottish Junior Football Association five years later.

They went on to become one of the areas leading clubs and, in addition to claiming two East Region Super League titles, they were crowned Fife champions on six occasions.

Hearts also reached the Scottish Junior Cup final twice, but lost out to Kilwinning Rangers in 1999, and Linlithgow Rose in 2007.

Some of the club’s former players include ex-Heart of Midlothian and Scotland midfielder Colin Cameron, Pars heroes Andy Tod and Ian Heddle, and former St Mirren, Kilmarnock and Dundee United goalkeeper Alan Combe, while Jim Leishman also had a spell managing Kelty.