Caution and optimism at the kick-off
PUBLISHED: 11:50 09 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:40 10 September 2010
The Ridgeons League kicks off today with Norfolk and Suffolk clubs among the favourites in both divisions. Dereham Town, at home to Leiston, looked a growing force under manager Matty Henman in the closing stages of the last campaign and he feels he now has a better-balanced squad with a clutch of new signings and local players ready to pressure for selection to the senior squad.
The Ridgeons League kicks off today with Norfolk and Suffolk clubs among the favourites in both divisions.
Dereham Town, at home to Leiston, looked a growing force under manager Matty Henman in the closing stages of the last campaign and he feels he now has a better-balanced squad with a clutch of new signings and local players ready to pressure for selection to the senior squad. One downside has been the knee injury to Adam Gusterson, which will need an operation and will sideline him for a long period. He intends to stay involved through the coaching side while he recovers.
There have been several comings and goings at Wroxham's Trafford Park. The Yachtsmen kick off at Felixstowe & Walton with manager Damian Hilton sounding a cautious note. "I forecast a very difficult season because a number of teams are reported to have strengthened since the end of last season. Our policy is to give some of last term's successful Anglian Combination champions (Wroxham Reserves) a shot in Ridgeons League." One big miss will be striker Ben Thompson, who has signed for a club closer to his Oxford home.
Kirkley & Pakefield, aiming for promotion out of the Ridgeons League, have been busy in the transfer market.
Manager Nick Shorten has recruited Wroxham's Justin Fox and Lee Gilman, Mildenhall's former Norwich City and King's Lynn man Lewis Blois, former Barnet youngster James Cole and Matt Shutt.
FA Vase finalists Lowestoft Town entertain Ely City with joint boss Ady Gallagher stating: "In our Vase run the players really pulled together to unite - and that same atmosphere remains in our dressing room now."
Norwich United manager Gary Butcher is looking ahead with confidence before they entertain Wivenhoe. Butcher has recruited several new faces, including Lee Howlett from Wroxham.
Wisbech fans, ahead of a home start against Tiptree, will be wondering what effect plans for a temporary move to Outwell as part of plans to provide a replacement ground to Fenland Park will have on Steve Taylor's side.
And King's Lynn Reserves followers will no doubt be wondering what effect the feelgood factor around a highly successful Walks set-up will have on the Linnets' second string as they kick off at home to Stanway Rovers.
In Division One, Great Yarmouth Town start their 100th season with an opening run of four away games at Cornard while Diss Town manager Robert Taylor will hope his team is fast out of the blocks at Newmarket.
In his bid to get Diss, who finished a disappointing fourth last season, back into the Premier Division, Taylor has enlisted the services of six players from his old club Dereham, namely Andy Moody, Steven Wright, James Wilson, Osiris Gomes, George Wilson and Brendan Foley.
But he has lost former Norwich City player Cedric Anselin, who had signed during the summer but now says he has lost his desire to play football.
Thetford Town embark on a new era with the arrival of Mick Money and John Fincham as first team managers. They start at Saffron Walden.
At this time last season Fakenham Town were wondering if they could give anyone a proper game, so depleted were their player and management resources. Now they reckon they should be able to compete with any team in Division One, say joint managers Stuart Woodhouse and Mark King. Gorleston, at home to newcomers Brantham, include among their signings Chad Pillar. Swaffham Town, relegated last campaign, begin Division One life at home to Hadleigh while Downham visit Halstead.