Now that the season has been officially ended and a date is in the diary for the start of the next one, first team manager Craig Davies can’t wait for competitive football to resume.
Earlier this year, non-league clubs voted on a proposal from their respective leagues to curtail the 2020-21 football season. Over 76 clubs across steps 3 to 6 (Cables are at step 4) indicated a preference to end the season if it could not be restarted with limited spectator numbers and hospitality before April 1st. The FA Council subsequently ratified the decision to bring the season to an end and release a statement that said “taking into account views of clubs and leagues, it was decided that extending beyond the end of May 2021 would not be a viable option. This was due to various considerations, including the financial implications for many clubs, player contracts and the extent of the fixture scheduling issues caused by the national lockdown and various postponements.”
Lockdown measures finally eased at the end March and allowed grassroots football to return, albeit without spectators, and organised training to recommence. As we learned through the first edition of Talking Bulls, first team manager Craig Davies and his coaching staff have been working with the players via the internet to maintain contact with the whole squad squad, their physical fitness and their general wellbeing and mental health, something which has come to the fore during the pandemic lockdown.
Earlier this month, our reserve side resumed their season and the first team returned to training. We caught up with Craig Davies to talk about getting back on the training ground and preparing for next season, currently schedule to commence on 14th August.
Before we spoke about the return to training, Craig spoke on behalf of the squad. “The feeling amongst the lads is they just wanted to know about what was happening with the league season. They just wanted clarity about the situation and now they have that, they can prepare for next season” before adding “with the 20/21 season officially being curtailed and facilities not available until mid-April, we discussed having a session once a week where the lads just come to training and play. It’s been that long since they played or trained so it would make sense for them to just have fun and play. We trained last Saturday at the ground, behind closed doors.”
When asked if this would be the start of an early pre-season, Craig dismissed the suggestion and is happy for the squad to have the ‘natural break’ between campaigns. “We will train every Thursday in April and a couple of weeks into May and then we’ll have a break before starting pre-season. I personally wouldn’t want to do a long pre season from April until June as this can become boring quickly and cause burn out for when the league does resume.”
As the lockdown continues to ease up and some sense of normal life coming back into sight, attention for Davies and his staff turns to next season. Craig remains cautiously optimistic when looking ahead. “We plan to come back for pre-season at the end of June, based on the lockdown continuing to ease in the summer. As we know the league is starting on the 14th August and that is some much needed good news.”
Craig, like all of us that love our football, is more than anything looking forward to the return to action. “I for one can’t wait for competitive football to resume. We will be back in at the near the end of June and we are all looking forward to getting back out there, coming back together as a squad to get going again for the new season. Hopefully we will be able to announce our pre-season fixtures in the coming weeks.”
With the plans in place for pre-season the manager and his coaching staff are looking ahead to the new season and are always looking for ways to strengthen the squad, mindful of the fluid nature of non-league transfers. “Naturally with football, players will come and go. We have looked at the stats we have available for the current season and it does highlight some things we need to address. We have identified a few targets that we believe can make us even better next season so we will seek to hold talks with those targets and keep you all updated with regards to new signings. It’s never a bad thing to bring in competition for places.”
Competitive football can’t come soon enough to Hope St, and Craig had one last message to the supporters.
“We just can’t wait to play a game at home now with the fans in. The days are counting down. UP THE CABLES!”