By Ryan Newman
After re-signing for Hailsham Town this week, prolific goal scorer and fan favourite Danny Leach says that promotion has to be the club’s ultimate aim this season.
Leach is returning to County League football after an 18 month hiatus during which he trained for and completed the Brighton marathon for St Wilfrid’s Hospice.
Hailsham open their SCFL division one campaign tomorrow (Saturday, 3pm) when they play host to Midhurst and Easebourne at The Beaconsfield.
“I think Saturday is a big game for the club,” said Leach.
“I think we have the opportunity to set the tone for the season with a good result against Midhurst.
“I think ultimately, with the squad we’ve got, and after speaking to the gaffer, it’s got to be promotion. From what I’ve seen, I don’t think that’s an unrealistic target.
“In terms of county league football, Hailsham want to be in the Premier division. So that has to be the ultimate ambition for this season.”
Leach was part of Brighton’s youth setup before being released at the age of 19. Since then he has had spells at Eastbourne Borough, Eastbourne Town, Rye and Hailsham.
After his lengthy break away from the game Leach certainly seems happy to be back and doesn’t seem too concerned about a lack of match practice heading into a lengthy season in the Southern Combination Division One.
“I’m really excited, there’s a massive buzz around the club at the moment. I know the gaffer (Jamie Salvidge) really well.
“I did speak to a few other clubs, but after speaking to Jamie about his ambitions for the season, I’m really excited to be back to be honest. I’ve only had one training session but the squad looks good, they’re a really good bunch of lads. I’m looking forward to the season.
“I’ve always kind of looked after myself, fitness wise, even since running the marathon. I’m not expecting to go back and be fully match fit. I think it will take me a good few weeks to get that back.
“But you only get that back through training and games. I’ve just got to be patient and hopefully it’ll come back. The good thing is that games come thick and fast in this league.
“Our first game is on Saturday, so hopefully it won’t take me too long to get back into the swing of things.”
Leach doesn’t think that last weekend’s disappointment in the FA Cup will damage confidence for the season ahead.
Hailsham went down 1-8 at home to Redhill in new manager Jamie Salvidge’s first competitive game in charge.
“I don’t think you can really read too much into Saturday’s result,” Leach added. “We had eight players out, and Redhill are notoriously a good side.
“Add in the centre-half getting sent off after 10 minutes, that’s the last thing you want. I think other people will look at that result and presume that we’re going to be the whipping boys again but I honestly don’t think that will happen.”