The joy was etched all over Mark Whatley’s face at Forthbank on Saturday.
Amid emotion-charged scenes which will live long in the memory, the 26-year-old Arbroath skipper raised aloft the League 2 champions trophy in front of a magnificent 1,500-strong Red Lichties support that had invaded Stirling for the day.
If you are an Arbroath fan life does not get much better than this and midfielder Whatley was just proud to share the moment with manager Dick Campbell and his backroom staff, team-mates and the club’s foot soldiers.
“I’m over the moon,” he said. “It wasn’t the best performance but after 36 games and to be top of the league, we deserve it.
“We are all just delighted. Obviously we would have ideally won the game but that’s history now because we have won the league.
“We knew with the team we have got, that we could go on a good run which we managed to do.
“We were gaining points all the time and got there to the top last week.
“We have a brilliant group of players and a brilliant group of people.
“They are a joy to be around and a joy to be around in training.
“The management staff have a great balance between when they have a laugh with us to when we get focused and down to work.
“You can see with the ability we have got on the pitch. You can go through the whole team.
“We heard there was going to be a big following but I didn’t expect that. They were incredible.
“From the first minute to the last minute they were amazing.
“I cannot thank them enough.”
Whatley admitted veteran manager Campbell, who has seen and done it all in the lower leagues during his long and always colourful football career, has been a driving figure in Arbroath’s title triumph.
“What a guy! He is 63 and has still got the hunger, “ said Whatley.
“He is a great motivator who has got a great dressing room and that has been the difference this year.
“We know we have got quality but we stuck together even when we were 11 points behind so we deserve this.
“We will rest up now and get ready to go again next season. It’s another challenge for everyone.
“The boys love what we do. If you don’t there is no point in doing it.
“We are here for a reason and it’s tremendous to get the reward of a league title at the end of the season.
“You are defined by what titles you win at the end of the day so I am delighted to be in a title-winning team.
“It’s that extra bit special to pick up the trophy and this is my best achievement in football by a mile.
“Picking up the trophy as captain for this team, and the management staff we have, it’s just great.”
Arbroath went ahead after just five minutes when Martin Scott headed home Bobby Linn’s delivery.
Steven Doris, the former Stirling striker, should have made it 2-0 from the penalty spot but his effort struck the post.
Stirling deservedly levelled when Liam Henderson converted a penalty with 14 minutes to go.
But with Forfar struggling against Annan, the helicopter carrying the trophy and medals was already plotting a course for Stirling.
The afternoon marked John Christison’s final game as Arbroath chairman and it was entirely fitting that he should bow out in such splendid fashion.