Following a disastrous 2002/03 season a meeting was held in early May between players and management to discuss what we wanted, expected and needed from the coming season. Several home truths were told and it was clear that tidying up the whole set up was going to be no small task. However the first steps had been taken. Paul Pennington would remain as manager, Jon Ford was elected president, Alan Marshall Chairman and Jody Thirkell and Ben Parker Treasurers. This committee would for the first time break from the Club's overall committee as a separate decision making force.
Pre Season began Early. Very Early. Whilst other teams were celebrating and commiserating the end of season victories and defeats, Town were training. Twice a week. Tony Clarkson came in as coach and the fitness that was a key factor in our downfall last year was addressed head on. People training ranged from 15 to 25 dependent on weather and work ties but all in all the spirit and fitness in the camp improved slowly but surely.
Behind The Scenes
This very website is one of the products of Town's revolution. A new kit has been bought (see the link on the 'News' page) and most players have purchased a drill top so we look the part if nothing else. A Home Game programme for the first team is also expected for the new season
After the worst possible start, a humiliating 3-0 defeat to the Sunday side, Town have been on the best pre-season roll in recent memory. 3 convincing wins followed and a hugely impressive draw with semi professional Tadcaster Albion's Reserve side. Regardless of who has played and what formation played, Town have impressed. The spirit and confidence has visibly lifted and going into the Big Kick off, everyone at the Club is optimistic. The only problem now is who will play? A good 20 players are vying for just 14 first team spots. Only time will tell the tale.
The Selection headache!!
After an extremely successful Pre-Season in which the only blip was the opening game, manager Paul Pennington appears to have the hardest job of all in selecting his strongest first team squad. Town now have a squad that has competition for every place on the park and it will be a test of his ability as a manager to get the best from all the lads. Last year Paul was left on many occasions with no choice as the bare XI turned up for games toward the end of the season. All will be different this time around. Matty Otley is assured his place in goal, as the challenge from Lee Briggs never materialised. At full back there are a multitude of options. New boy Stephen Rigg has looked good going forward at right back but Richie Marshall will challenge for that role. Richies versatility could do him a favour in that he can play right or left back and anywhere in Midfield. Paul Richardson will also want a spot at right back but it is uncertain when his troublesome ankle will recover. At left back Paul Newbould looks to be back in top form and is sure to start the season there but Barry Haresign cannot be discounted. Andy Kitching has had a great pre-season and will want a place at the heart of the defence but he can also play at either full back and wasnt too shabby in a Midfield Three either. Craig Rio Purcell is a dead cert for one of the centre back booths but who will be his partner? Ben Parker is looking better with every game and is another who has looked just as steady at right back. Jamie Kime has also impressed at Centre Half but would prefer a spot in Centre Midfield. Carl Thorp has also played there but again would prefer midfield. In Central Midfield its a lottery. Pick any two (or three) from Jody Thirkell, Neil Doyle, Jamie Kime, Chris Pennington or Jon Ford. On the right will Neil Doyle retain his position of last year or will a challenge appear from new boy Liam Clark or even one of the right full backs? On the left old boy Jonny Ford looks rejuvenated and enjoying his footy again but can he displace Chris Pennington, or will he have to if Penny is in the middle? Up front we have four strikers all of whom have been on target in pre season. Kris Parker is sure to start with his pre season form of four goals, Liam Clark and Paul Bjelic have both struck twice and Jake Bennett (who can also play just about anywhere) has one too. All in all pretty strong and hopefully those lads who are not in the first XI or even the first XIV will get their heads down and work hard to make it back into the frame. As can be seen from above 20 contenders cant all play at once but those who do better play well!! Or Else.
The Opening Games
The fixture list has thrown up a tricky but winnable away tie at Featherstone to start, followed by 5 Home Ties on the bounce. This could be the start Town need if the season is to be a good one. If we were to come out with 3 wins and a couple of draws it would definitely stand the squad in good stead for the rest of the year.
Good Luck Lads!!