Wednesday, 31 July 2013

2013/14 Season Preview - Part Two

2012/13: 8th in Conference

2012/13: 5th in Conference North – “Strength, Battled, Determination
FC Halifax Town
We’ve lost Liam Hogan to Fleetwood Town. Liam played a vital role in the Shaymen’s defence since we signed him from Woodley Sports, but he’s now gone on to full-time football. The best signing I believe, as it stands, is Josh Wilson (from Guiseley). Josh was Guiseley’s top scorer last season and also earned himself a call-up to the England C squad.
Neil Aspin, what a manager! Since Neil signed for us he's done nothing but prolific things for us, as a team and as a club! He’s brought in some of the best players around in the likes of Jamie Vardy, Jonathan Hedge and Lee Gregory. A minority of supporters didn’t think he was the right man for the jobs, but as it stands from last season, I’m sure a few mouths are now well and truly sealed!
The Shay Stadium (also known as ‘The San Shayro’). For fans who haven’t yet been to The Shay, it’s easily Football League standard and the East Stand is now complete to top it off.

This season, the fixture I’m most looking forward to is Lincoln City home and away, simple because my old man is an Imps supporter.
To get promoted: Barnet (Champions) and Grimsby (Play-offs)
To get relegated: Aldershot, Welling, Lincoln and Hyde
Halifaxs finish: Midtable

2012/13: 10th in Conference – “Frustratingly inconsistent
Forest Green Rovers
Losing Jamie Collins could be key this season because whenever he was on the pitch we looked comfortable and in control. He brought a bit of muscle and maturity to our sometimes physically weak and quite eccentric midfield. However, the money of chairman Dale Vince has allowed us to bring in three class players this summer: Danny Wright from Wrexham, as well as Andy Mangan and Anthony Barry both from Fleetwood. Danny Wright will bring a strong, tall target to our quite small strike force, but I believe we will only see the best of him if we play him in the middle of our normal front front. Mangan, a fans’ favourite from a few years back has returned, if he can get firing from start of the season then he could be a major factor in where we finish. Anthony Barry is a small midfielder who is in to replace the loss of Collins so we expect him to do a similar job, to control and command the goings on in the middle of the park.
David Hockaday is loved and hated at our club. He isn't a 'tinkerer' with his formations and consistently plays his favoured 4-3-3 formation. A few tactical errors cost us valuable points last season and that got a select few of our fans wanting his head. Chairman Vince is going to stick by his man like he vowed when he took over as chairman but I believe if we are not in and around the play-offs by Christmas then Hockaday has to go!
The New Lawn has been what we call home since 2006. The best playing surface outside the football league without a doubt thanks to our eco friendly approach and the expertise of our groundsman Stuart who works tirelessly on his pitch. A no red meat law is in force in the ground so if you come on your away day expecting a pasty or a burger then think again, falafel wraps and a red veg burger will be on the menu! Parking within the ground of the stadium is advised otherwise you have a very long, steep walk to go on. The Green Man is our pub on site where both sets of fans can come and have a drink together and to converse with one another. Our ground just has an all round good feel, set on top of a Cotswold hill.
The last two games of the season are ones to look out for. These two games are against the 'giants' and expected promotion contenders Luton Town and Wrexham. If we are still in the race for the title or the play-offs then these games could possibly be some of the biggest in our history.
To get promoted: Wrexham (Champions) and Grimsby (Play-offs)
To get relegated: Gateshead, Welling, Southport and Tamworth
Forest Green Rovers’ finish: Top 10 – whereabouts? I don’t know!

2012/13: 17th in Conference

2012/13: 4th in Conference – “So. Bloody. Close.”
Grimsby Town
Although around a dozen players have left some of those were fringe players (Greg Pearson, Louis Soares, Frankie Artus) who, while giving 100% effort, weren't going to cut it in League Two. Ian Miller and Bradley Wood were surprisingly released when they were two of the best back five in the league regarding goals conceded. That said, some real quality has arrived. Scott Kerr is the midfield general we've needed for years, Scott Neilson is the best winger in non-league and (if he stays fit) will terrorise full backs, while Paddy McLoughlin adds a left foot to our midfield three. Liam Hearn is also fit after missing all but three games last season with a serious ankle ligament injury. We still need a centre half and another defender, but hopes are high this is the best squad we've had in years.
Managers – we have two! And yes – while Paul Hurst is the good cop to Rob Scott's bad cop (the latter is known to throw abuse back at home fans when it's dished out) – we've improved in each of the three campaigns they've had. If they improve on last year's 4th place we'll definitely go up. If we don't go up this season it will be classed as a failure.
To sum up, Blundell Park is old. It's over 100 years old now and is starting to look it. But it's a proper Football League ground with a capacity of 8,000-odd. Some of the Conference grounds are, well, quaint. We're all-seater too which is a rarity at this level. Capacity for the away end is about 1,400. Some sides literally brought 14 fans last season.
Most looking forward to Lincoln away on Boxing Day and home on New Year's Day, because we always seem to take six points against them. Last year's 4-1 win at Sincil Bank was very much a highlight in the season. In terms of footballing clashes Kidderminster played the best football last season and Wrexham and Braintree were good to watch too. Matches with Luton are always tasty as they tried to steal most of our players last season.
To get promoted: Luton (Champions) and Grimsby (Play-offs)
To get relegated: Hyde, Nuneaton, Salisbury and Aldershot
Grimsby’s finish: 3rd – up via the play-offs to put to bed the Wembley disappointment last season

2012/13: 6th in Conference – “Not bad considering
Hereford United
At the end of last season, we only had one player officially signed on. We offered another three players contracts, all of which were turned down. Two out of these three I believe would have been key: Marley Watkins and Sam Clucas. Both had pace down the wings and certainly brought something to the team. Something I feel any team would miss. However, Martin Foyle has made some good signings, a few of which will definitely be key. If I had to pick one out I would say Chris Bush –a  good solid defender, who is not afraid to get forward and has one hell of a throw on him.
Many Hereford fans were predicting a finish of around 10th but to finish 6th was higher than our expectations. Foyle seems to get the best out of his players and the fact players want to play under him shows what a good manager he is. I feel he is one of the best managers in the conference and can certainly take Hereford United forward.
Edgar Street is a traditional football ground which is in need of upgrading. 
To get promoted: Wrexham (Champions) and Forest Green Rovers (Play-offs)

To get relegated: Aldershot, Nuneaton, Alfreton and Welling
Hereford’s finish: I would hope for playoffs but being realistic I will say 6th again

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