Going up to the English Football League with Barrow AFC means defender Sam Hird has now been promoted from three different divisions in his career.

Hird, 32, has been able to get his career back on track with the Bluebirds since signing in January 2019, after a long-standing hip problem caused him to miss most of his final season with Chesterfield in 2017/18.

It was with the Spireites that Hird won promotion from League Two, alongside former Bluebirds manager Ian Evatt, in 2014, which came six years after he had helped Doncaster Rovers out of League One with a memorable play-off victory over Leeds United.

The experienced centre-back is one of 11 players from AFC's National League-winning squad who have been retained for next season, which will be the club's first in the EFL for 48 years.

Hird said: "A promotion is a promotion - obviously mine are from League One and League Two and now from the National League and let me tell you now that every promotion is an unbelievable achievement, from any league.

"This season has been really tough for us, but I know that we've been the best side in the league, we've proved that.

"That's been justified by them putting us up. We were clear at the top with nine games left and we'd been top for five or six months.

"It's just a great achievement, not just for myself but for everybody in the town."

Momentum was just starting to gather at Holker Street when Hird joined, following a short spell at Alfreton Town, but even then not many with the club at heart will have expected promotion to League Two to follow so soon.

What success on the pitch led to was a substantial growth in home attendances, something that is guaranteed to continue once football is played in front of crowds again.

Hird said: "It has grown and I know the manager has left now but that's down to him and his staff and how they got us to engage with the fans.

"Obviously, with us training at Hopwood, which is more beneficial for a lot of the players, but they then got us up to Barrow and had us engaging with the community as much as we could.

"It's massively important at lower league clubs that you do have that sort of relationship with the fans."