So here we go … the season is upon us … Pre-season has been steady, nothing spectacular but it feels a little like the hangover from the night before, following last season’s null and void.
There’s been a lot of changes around the club over the summer, with the introduction of the U21 and U23 teams, along with the Women’s Senior and Development teams. The academy has grown from strength to strength with new partnerships announced with St Peters High School. Hopefully we’ll start to see the fruits of this work in the near future.
We welcome some new faces to the first team ahead of our trip to Southport, along with some new signings following loan periods at the club last season. We’re not yet done signings wise, we’ve one more to come in on a permanent deal hopefully before the York game, but it wasn’t quite finalised before our trip to Southport.
Now the Covid rules have been relaxed, we are able to welcome fans back into the club bar before and during the games. After the game however at full time, we do need to protect the players under the FA/ league Covid protocols, so that will be restricted access again … but if Carlsberg did shipping containers … they’d be the best shipping containers in the world right! And as luck would have it … Carlsberg are our partners … so next week they are fitting out the shipping containers under the big screen into a match day bar for home and away fans. Jody and Claire are sorting the finer details this week, but we fully expect it to be open for the York game. This outside bar will stay open until whenever works on match days … so we’ve made some progress. We’ve also now had our licence altered to allow drinks to be served in the whole ground, so again, more positive steps and progress. We’ve close to announcing a couple of partners for post-game drinks on the docks, which will allow the atmosphere to build up while supporting others in the city.
We’ve really struggled this pre-season with kit, not just from our own suppliers which has delayed the shop stock from arriving, but with the main league kit. We’ve still had no footballs issued from the league suppliers or warm up kit issued as of yet … we’re also missing the players letters for the shirts … so we’re struggling from all angles. Luckily, we’ve managed to beg steal and borrow enough from others to get by, as all the clubs are in the same boat.
The league however is listening, the voting system has now been altered to 1 vote per National League club, that’s across all three divisions. So, we can now be heard … this would have meant for example that the season last year would more than likely not have been null and voided and the clubs vote of no confidence in the board would have been passed. So maybe … just maybe … last season wasn’t for nothing after all!
Our goals for the season are the same as our goals for last season, don’t go down, don’t go bust … our budget, despite all the drama of last season and massive losses which we’ve had to cover between Eamonn and myself, remains the same as it was last season. In fact, with the introduction of additional management and coaching staff, it’s actually increased. The manager is looking for more competition for places across the board and hopefully with the U21/23’s pushing hard below the first team, we’ve managed to achieve that, along with the 20, soon to be 21 players that are signed on ahead of our trip to Southport.
Stick with us, we’ll get more right then wrong I hope and pray this season, but I’m always learning as are we as a club. I need to close by thanking you all, each and every one of you that support us right here right now, it’s been a long journey! We also must thank the FA, the National Lottery and Sport England, as without you three, this summer would have been a million times harder. I’m truly thankful.