Non-League bosses... the season ahead.....in their own words
© Stephen Waller
THE non-league season begins this weekend and hopes will be high among many for successful campaigns. MIKE BACON contacted many of the region's managers to get their views on their team's hopes.
SOUTHERN CENTRAL PREMIER
NEEDHAM MARKET, Richard Wilkins: "The main aim is to improve on last season's position and to be pushing towards a play-off spot. We have brought in some tried and tested level 3 players in Craig Parker and Marcus Garnham which will give us more experience in the squad. We will potentially lose attackers Jamie Griffiths and Adam Mills but we have been able to sign Cambridge United's highly-rated centre forward Joe Neal on loan. We feel we require and couple more additions to the squad but only players who fit the required criteria. If we have a relatively injury-free campaign I believe we can achieve our aims."
LOWESTOFT TOWN, Jamie Godbold: "After a successful finish to what was a difficult season, expectations around the club have risen and a better season is expected this time around. The majority of last season's squad have committed to us once again and so we expect a higher league position than the 14th position we finished last season. Our aim is to get 40 points as quickly as possible and if we keep free from injuries, combined with a bit of luck, could see us flirt with the play offs, which would be a huge achievement with the resources we have available."
LEISTON, Stuart Boardley: "It has been an extremely busy summer for us given the departures from the club but we have made some significant signings of late and feel we are only one/two experienced players away from being a really good team. It will be tough, no doubt about it, as new players take time to gel but pre-season has identified a real togetherness and we as a coaching team are really looking forward to seeing this young team prove a few of the doubters wrong."
AFC SUDBURY, Mark Morsley: "I've quite enjoyed pre-season this year and I don't usually. I think in the main it is because I have seen more of our scholars break into the first team and put pressure on established players. Last weekend I announced my 19-man first-team squad and it had five of this year's second-year scholars and five of those who left last season. Isthmian North has never been stronger than it will this season. We have the four big hitters from last season's play-off places, added further big hitters in Histon and Cambridge City plus we can see the likes of Tilbury and Canvey making key signings. For us it will be steady improvements, evolution not revolution."
FELIXSTOWE & WALTON UNITED, Ian Watson: "It's been quite a change around with our squad over the summer, with a number of senior players moving onto other clubs. We were disappointed to lose some of those players. However the squad needed to be refreshed. We have added some quality younger signings and we have a good vibe about us. Our main aim is to further establish ourselves at Step 4, but also Danny Bloomfield and I want to push on from last season."
BURY TOWN, Ben Chenery: "I am in no doubt that the 2019/20 season will be an even tougher proposition than the one just gone. We have recruited sensibly and will continue to play with the identity and values which run throughout the whole football club. We are looking forward to the season ahead and are aiming to cement our place as a top ten team in the league."
EASTERN COUNTIES PREMIER
HADLEIGH UNITED, Christian Appleford: "It has been a positive pre season for Hadleigh and we have been pleased with the effort, attitude and application shown by the players. We have retained the majority of last season's squad which was important, but have also managed to secure some quality new signings. We have a side now capable of creating and scoring goals and I feel we will be an exciting team to watch. On our day we will be a competitive match for any side."
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WHITTON UNITED, Shane Coldron: "We've made four good signings and that will make us stronger. We learned a lot of lessons last season but I'm confident we can make a vast improvement on where we finished last season, this time around. I would like to finish top six or seven. The likes of Stowmarket, Mildenhall, Stanway, Woodbridge, Brantham and Godmanchester will be up there, but there is no reason we can't be among that group. No-one has talked about us much, which suits us."
MILDENHALL TOWN, Ricky Cornish: "After last season, we knew a complete overhaul was needed, building a new team of local players. Pre-season has been about the players getting to know each other's strengths, weaknesses and building the team ethic. We have managed to bring in real quality in the likes of Canfer, Brame and Chaplin, plus several others who have really bought into the team and what we are trying to build at Mildenhall. We will be competitive and enjoy what this new team will bring to the table."
BRANTHAM ATHLETIC, Michael Brothers: "With pre season complete I'm sure like myself most managers are now eagerly awaiting the season's start. Our recruitment at Brantham has gone well and we have replaced and improved in the areas we felt needed. I believe this season will be the toughest yet in terms of promotion. I was lucky as a player to experience success and this is something I want to bring as a manager to the club and the players of Brantham."
STOWMARKET TOWN, Rick Andrews: "We have had a bit of a shake up in the summer and I'm hoping that we gel quickly as a group. It's the best squad in my time at the club and one who I hope can deliver the success the club craves."
WALSHAM-LE-WILLOWS, Trevor Newman: "My aims are to get a top six finish in the league and hopefully have a couple good runs in the FA cup and Vase, which as a club we have never achieved. We've had quite busy summer with players leaving and arriving, but in my opinion this is the strongest squad Walsham have had for seven or eight years."
EASTERN COUNTIES FIRST
DEBENHAM, Guy Hayes: "We are looking to improve on last season's mid-table finish but with a particular focus on having a good cup run. A club of our size should be aiming to win a cup competition. We have gone about our business quietly signing a handful of new players that buy into what the club stands for. Behind the scenes we have a fantastic committee who do hell of a lot for the club, we want to give them and our supporters a team they can be proud of once more."
IPSWICH WANDERERS, Mark Goldfinch: "With the appointment of a new chairman we will have a fresh start this season. And with this new direction and support the main goal for James Buckle and I is promotion. Of course we would like a good run in the Vase and possibly go one better in the Suffolk Senior Cup and reach the final. We have strengthen and added good players to the squad, most notably bringing in Rhys Barber from Felixstowe and the return of Danny Thrower - both these players bring experience and quality which will not only help us achieve our goals but also improve and develop the younger players."
FRAMLINGHAM TOWN, Liam Abrahams: "We have had a productive pre-season and are looking forward to the season ahead, with the aim to be competitive in the league and cups. We are aware of the class in the division and there will be no pressure applied on bouncing straight back up, as nice as that would be. We have retained the vast majority of players from the previous year, and added some talent with a couple of new players, but much the same squad to tackle the new season. Lastly not to forget, our ethos of developing the youth players from our ever developing junior section."
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