It’s all change for Lynn’s kick-off rivals
King's Lynn will be facing a much-changed Burscough side when they open their Blue Square North campaign on Saturday - but the Lancashire outfit's manager Joey Dunn insists his men will be ready for the challenge.
King's Lynn will be facing a new-look Burscough side when they open their Blue Square North campaign on Saturday - but the Lancashire outfit's manager Joey Dunn insists his men will be ready for the challenge.
Burscough did well to finish eighth in their first season at Conference level last term but are being tipped for relegation this time around after a traumatic summer that has seen the departure of Dunn's predecessor Liam Watson and no fewer than 12 players to near-neighbours Southport.
The new man in charge has been rushed off his feet since being thrown in at the deep end at the beginning of July but has used his extensive contacts in the North West to put together a squad he feels should more than hold their own in the league this term.
"First and foremost I think it's important to stress that it's not a completely new team," said Dunn, who has stepped up from his previous role as Burscough's assistant manager.
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"Of the starting line-up for Saturday's game against King's Lynn I would say five, or maybe six, will be players who were with us last season.
"Obviously the departures to Southport left us with a big to hole to fill, but we have brought in some top quality replacements who I am sure will do a good job for the club.
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"It doesn't worry me in the slightest that some people are tipping us for relegation. It's what happens out on the pitch that matters and, like all the other clubs, we'll find out soon enough what sort of season we are likely to have."
Dunn was handed the job when his good friend Watson jumped ship, taking many of Burscough's best players with him.
"It certainly came as a bit of shock," he said. "We had just had a really encouraging first season in Blue Square North and were looking to build on that but Liam told me he was going to Southport. There were no hard feelings. Liam is a good mate and I fully understood why he wanted to go. But it was July 3 and all of a sudden I had just over a month to get a load of new players in and prepare them for the new season.
"It was a bit of a mad rush but I've got 14 in to go with the players that were left and pre-season has gone really well. We gave a Manchester United youth and reserve team a good game and there have been a lot of good performances. Everyone seems to be gelling together well and we'll be ready for King's Lynn, don't you worry about that!"
Saturday's match is the first ever meeting between the two clubs, coincidentally both known as the Linnets, and Dunn admits he will be going into the fixture knowing little about the opposition.
"I must admit I was a bit surprised when King's Lynn were put into the North division," he said. "They'll have an awful lot of travelling to do and it will be interesting to see how they cope.
"It would have been nice to have had a look at them in pre-season but because of the distances involved there wasn't really the time. I was busy enough already!
"Obviously I know about Julian Joachim but I don't know too much about the rest of them. The one thing I can guarantee is that the players, officials and supporters of King's Lynn will be well looked after at Victoria Park. We pride ourselves on being a friendly club and everyone will get a warm welcome."
Burscough average gates of around 450 - less than half that of neighbours Southport - but Dunn added: "We might not get the biggest crowds but the ones who do turn up week in, week out, have been great for us. I guess there's a hard core of around 300 - the Green Army we call them - and their support has been superb. I am sure they will be making themselves heard on Saturday along with the King's Lynn fans."
Burscough have enjoyed plenty of success over the past five years. Their FA Trophy success of 2003, when they beat Tamworth 2-1 in front of over 14,000 fans at Villa Park - has been the highlight but the Unibond League title triumph of 2005-06 ran it close, as did making the top 10 in the Blue Square North last season.
They also had a run to the second round of the FA Cup in 2005-6 when they missed out on a home tie with Manchester United after losing to Burton, who famously went on to take Sir Alex Ferguson's side to a replay.
Dunn is realistic enough to admit that his Linnets will struggle to maintain the upward curve this season after all the summer changes, but is confident his squad will have enough about them to keep their heads above water.
"It won't be easy after all that has happened but I think we have a decent squad, certainly good enough to finish well clear of relegation," he said.