For Tommy Widdrington and his Eastbourne Borough side, Saturday signifies more than just the start of another season.
For this season, which be Widdrington’s first full campaign in charge, is the next step on the ladder of transition for the club as they aim to start afresh following a host of transformations both on and off the pitch.
And the boss, who came in for the final few months of the previous season, is looking forward to being able to wipe the slate clean and start his new era at Priory Lane.
He said, “The club has had some big changes, as everybody knows, and it’s in the middle of a big transition. We want to get everyone believing in us again and feeling positive.
“I’ve brought in players that I think will improve the team and I hope the fans like what they see on the pitch, but they have to be patient, it won’t happen overnight.”
When Widdrington joined the club earlier this year, he inherited a team teetering on the brink of the relegation zone but managed to guide the club to safety to ensure they start this campaign still in the Blue Square Bet South.
“I tend to set targets throughout the season, not one big one for the whole season, but I think the aim is to do better than last year. Last year we finished 17th, so we will be looking to end above that at least.
“The belt has been tightened considerably though from last season. It’s like, if you want to buy a big ice cream but you only have a pound, you can only get a small ice cream, but we will do the best with what we’ve got.”
Widdrington’s player selection process has been thorough, bringing in a wide range of trialists as he looked to strengthen his squad over the summer. In the end, the boss brought in 13 new faces and let ten players go as he stamped his mark on the Sports’ starting line-up.
He said, “It’s been an eventful pre-season with all the changes but I think we had to do what we did. I know a lot of players came and went during the pre-season but it was our way of making sure nothing slipped through the net. The only way to make sure you get the best is by filtering through them all.
“I’m definitely really pleased with the way it’s all turned out.”
Borough’s pre-season was somewhat of a rollercoaster ride, with two pleasing draws against league sides Stevenage and AFC Wimbledon but defeats to lower-league Hythe Town, Lewes and Eastbourne Town. Their final friendly was a 2-0 victory over Hastings United on the back of a 6-1 thrashing of Newhaven.
However, Widdrington has insisted he is not reading into any of the pre-season results as his side prepare to travel to Dorchester for the opening fixture of their 2012/2013 campaign.
“The main positive is that mostly everyone got through the pre-season injury free. The only slight worry is Ben Adams has a slight groin strain but other than that we have no concerns, which was the most important thing.”
Away from Priory Lane, Widdrington has tipped rivals Dover, Eastleigh, Welling and Sutton to be challenging at the top of the table this year.
“I don’t like making predictions because you don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes at these clubs and you can’t believe everything you read about them. Saying that, I think the clubs like Dover and Eastleigh, who have had money to spend this summer, will do well.
“Looking at the players they’ve brought in and let go, you’d can’t really overlook the teams that were around the top of the table last year either.”