The new season is here: Full amateur football preview for South Cumbria
WITH the end of last season still fresh in the memory, the 2017/18 campaign gets under way tomorrow, with the North West Counties, West Lancs and the Furness Premier League all starting on the same day for the first time.
Teams have been busy in the transfer market, with usual merry-go-round of players hoping to bolster clubs in their quest for silverware.
HOLKER OLD BOYS
HOLKER will be managed by stalwarts Glyn Dixon and Guy Heffernan.
The management team will be looking to improve on the first team’s fortunes in North West Counties Division One, after they slipped down the table towards the end of a disjointed season.
They have been busy attracting players in the summer, with prolific goal-scorer Danny Keenan joining from Vickerstown, however they have lost Chris Wraighte, who has moved up the leagues to play for Penrith.
Holker reserves come off the back of a successful season which saw them lift the Paul Wilson Trophy, the coaching staff of Glyn Chapman and Rob Coulter will be looking for more silverware.
TOWN are the area’s sole representatives in the West Lancs Premier Division, and it will be Dave Round's aim to build on last season’s impressive finish.
Shift patterns and work commitments do not help a settled side, but Round will have his eye on a good run in the cup competitions as well.
Mark Hammond has taken over the running of the reserves team who won the Terry Clinton Cup last season. Phil Athersmith is in charge of the A-team.
CASSIES have been boosted by the return of Jon Bell as first-team manager.
The last few seasons have been a real struggle in the West Lancs Premier Division, with shift work contributing to an already difficult task in a tough league.
The focus is rebuilding round the promising youngsters, with Kieran Clark, Callum Caldwell, Ben Phizacklea, Jake Steindl and Louis Jones all likely to be regulars.
They still possess one of the area's deadliest marksmen in Dave Mansergh, who said: “We’re not setting any targets in terms of finishing position, but hopefully we will consolidate and start enjoying our football again.
“Player-wise, we have managed to retain the majority of last season’s squad, although losing Mike Hargreaves for the season with a knee injury is a hammer blow.
“We have signed Jack Gardner from Glaxo and Joe Price from Swarthmoor, who will provide improvement to the squad in attack and defence respectively.”
Greg Unsworth and Keith Phizacklea will be running the reserves and their focus will be to develop the youngsters at their disposal, such as Matty Pearson, David Graves and Lewis Bowron.
HAWCOAT had a successful cup run last season which culminated in lifting the Presidents Cup.
Scott Ellis and Stu Walker have stepped down from the first-team coaching roles, with Trevor Houston and Dennis Tunstall replacing them.
Adam Hunter, Charlie Foster, Matty Pickering, Jack Elliott and Ryan Brown are additions to a squad who will be hoping to retain the cup and push up the league.
Tony Rooney will be assisted by Scott Ellis in running the Reserves.
GSK ULVERSTON RANGERS
AFTER last year's great escape, Brian White will carry on running the first XI at Glaxo.
The first team have added Zach Mooney to their ranks, while Phil Dixon replaces Andy Butler as reserve team manager.
Sam Wager has joined the club from Wattsfield and Felix Balchin from Milnthorpe.
ASKAM will be buoyed by the news manager Ben Shirley is staying in charge of first-team affairs.
They are another team looking to build on some impressive results last season, which saw them right in the middle of West Lancs Division One.
The first team will be bolstered by a raft of new signings, with youngsters Tom Unwin, Scott O’Riley, Andy Green and Hugh McParland all in. However, Ryan Brown and Hugh Barton have moved to pastures new.
Kris Mclean will be out for six weeks with a broken hand, while Kyle Jefferson is out for the season as he undergoes a knee reconstruction.
Pre-season has gone well, with the highlight being full-back Scott Steele smashing home three long-range free-kicks.
ROVERS will be managed by Walter Bowes, Rob Denby and Graeme Allinson, the latter stepping up from the under-16s, having won the Lancashire Cup last season, as well as the Barrow and District Junior Football League and Cup.
They will be looking at the talented group such as Tyler Wood, Brandon Allinson and Ryan Fagan to step up and mix with the established first-team.
Returning to the club after a spell at Crooklands is Chris Lowe, withd new signing Reece Craig also be pushing for spot.
The reserves will be managed by Steve McGarry and Steve Shields, who will be looking to for a positive response to life in the Furness Division One.
PRE-SEASON has gone well at Railway Meadow, with the addition of a few good signings to the already established players.
The first team have lost the services of ever-reliant Ian Callison, although the evergreen Gareth Jones continues to lead the line.
Numerous friendlies have given players the opportunity to get up to speed and gain valuable match practice, with some good results against some difficult opposition.
Life in West Lancs Division Two will give them the opportunity to take stock and rebuild.
Dalton will be again managed and coached by Andrew Marshall.
With the reserves promoted into the Furness Premier Division, their focus will be to consolidate their status. They will be managed jointly by Darren Thomas and Stuart Rutherford.
Dalton have had to withdraw their A-team from Furness Division Two due to shift patterns and other commitments.
MILLOM start their fixtures under new manager Danny Pattinson with a good pre-season behind them.
Holidays, shifts and festivals affected the squad, but with half-a-dozen friendlies behind them everyone has had a chance to get minutes under their belts.
Jamie Pattinson has returned from Holker Old Boys and gives plenty of attacking options alongside the prolific Carl Waters.
Tim Haberfield has returned after a season out and will be an excellent addition to the squad.
Millom are another club with some hot young prospects, the likes Theo Wilson, Jordan Brumby, Ethan Bickerdike, Ben McDonald and Jordan Williams all looking to stake claims for places.
STEVE Mccullough is in charge of the Walney first team again, assisted by Craig Savage.
Steve Brennan has returned after 13 years away, and so have Jack Hargreaves, Chris Newsham and Mike Nicholson, who have had time away from the game.
Josh Gay, Jordan Belcher, Oscar Fleming and Nick Beach have also put pen to paper for the new season. Will Boulton and Rhys Fleming returned towards the end of last season and are now part of a side that has learned a lot over the past few seasons.
The youngsters that have been the talking point around the club. Fin Edwards, Elliot Stockdale, Jack Chorley, Luca Fleming and Joe Hayes have all acquitted themselves well in pre-season.
Chris Speake will be added to the reserve team management, alongside Paul McCullough and Gary Bassett.
ANOTHER club to have had a quiet summer are Cavaliers.
There have been few changes at Rampside Road, with Marc McAloone still in charge of a very young squad.
The only losses are Tom Heap, who had been travelling from Windermere and returns to Ambleside United, and Dan Watts, who is taking a break from the game.
Newly-signed youngsters Callum Lamb and Joe Blackshaw will be looking to claim a place in the starting XI.
The new reserve team manager is former player Paul Honeyman, who has returned after a spell playing for Walney Island and has attracted a number of new faces.
STU Armistead and Darren Stretch stepped down as first-team managers to focus on the club with a full renovation to be started in the next couple of weeks.
Arron Aston stepped us as new first-team manager, to be assisted by the returning Andy Butler.
The aim was to keep most of the regular players from the West Lancs team, although Sean Nicholson has left for Croftlands Park.
They will be strengthened by some of last years reserves, such as Ozzy Smith, and new new signings and under-16s who have come up, such as Joe Carroll.
The reserves have been taken over by player/manager Brad Williamson, who will be assisted by Gaz Killip. They are expecting a number of new additions.
THERE was an honest assessment from Haverigg manager Greg Waters, who said: “The season is going be tough, with Swarthmoor stepping down from West Lancs and the likes of Barrow Celtic and Croftlands continually improving, but as a club we will set targets and want to win silverware after losing to Vickerstown last season in the Terry Clinton final.
“Our squad isn’t getting any younger, and with a third of the league fixtures played in the first five weeks, it’s going to make it tough.
“Over last year we have had an influx of talented youngsters who are keen and enthusiastic to bolster our squad. They are keeping our older heads on their toes, and I hope to introduce them throughout the season.”
Ex-Haverigg player Greg Whiteside takes the reigns of the reserves.
LAST season’s Furness Premier League champions have added a reserves side to their ranks, managed by Bruce Collings and Cameron McGoff.
The reserves will be looking to finish as high up Division Two as they can, and Isaac Prosser, Charlie Segger and Ross Spencer have all caught the eye.
The first team will be looking to Matt Dean, who bagged most of their goals last season, but they have also bolstered their options with new signings Sean Nicholson, David Harrison and Rob Wall. After a two-year absence with injuries, Mike Tomsett is back.
Croftlands' main aim is to to retain the FPL title while bedding their reserves into the league.
THIS season will be much the same for Bootle, with no changes in players.
The management have added Andy Rattray to the set-up to bring experience and this is already having a positive effect.
He said: “One thing we will be focusing on is stability in the league and hopefully a good cup run.
“The youngsters continue to play above their years, with excellent full seasons last year from Harry Cowley, Kieran Lawson, Aaron Bradley, who are all just about to turn 18.”
Graham Hartley again lead the team on match-days and the management team of Steve Lawson and Simon French will look to some of the senior players to bring on the young squad.
The reserves will be managed by Dave Varley, and have added Karl Wright and David Singleton to the squad, bringing experience to the set-up.
CELTIC pushed Croftlands right up until the last game of the season in the Furness premier League title race, and they will be looking to go one better this time.
They will begin the campaign with the loss of coach David Tomaszko to Barrow under-18s, leaving Mike McParland and Paul Hunt to look after first-team affairs.
Carl Brown and Peter McParland will run the reserves.
Celtic have also entered an A-Team into Division Two, appointing Iain McDonald and Craig Hyde as the management team.