Stockport Town get their 2017/18 league campaign underway on Saturday 12th August as they travel to Litherland Remyca in the NWCFL Division One.
But just how has their preseason gone?
I caught up with Town boss, Dave Wild, to go over his first preseason campaign at the club after taking over in January this year.
Wild commented: “I've really enjoyed my first preseason at the club, it's been an extremely hit and miss one in terms of friendly games but I was expecting that in terms of bedding time for new players and trialling different shapes and systems.
“As the off season has developed I have been left with no doubts whatsoever that we have recruited exactly what we needed and the club is on the path for progression across the course of the next 12-18 months.
“Off the field the club has expanded and that's been a real enjoyable thing to be involved in, with the introduction of the academy being a huge bonus for the foundations of the club moving forward in the future.”
The Lions kicked off their preseason with a 3-1 home victory over Premier Division side Abbey Hey at the beginning of July. Town followed up that result with a hard-fought 2-1 defeat to National League North outfit Curzon Ashton at Stockport Sports Village.
Wild has been hard at work recruiting players for the new campaign and the Town boss told me of his thoughts on his new players and what they can bring to the squad.
He said: “Recruitment this summer has been high on my agenda as far back as February when I had settled into the role. I had a list of four or five targets that I wanted to get into the club and lucky for me all five got through the door with relative ease, the facilities and ambition of the club made it a no brainer for some.
“The addition of Dahrius Waldron to the squad is a big positive for me, even though he's only 20-years-old his leadership skills are remarkable and he has the ability to demand more from people with his ambition and desire for football.
“I know Dahrius extremely well and the moment I knew he was joining I knew we were in a stronger position than before. He is someone that will impress people week on week with his abilities and tenacity and to be able to help him rediscover his best form is something that I am really enjoying.
“Ash Stott is a name everyone at this level knows and his goals will really assist us as last season I thought that was one area we had to improve on. His record right across his career is of a high standard and I have no doubts what so ever it will continue here at Town.
“Other signings like Matty Clarke and Tyler Edwards are sure to excite people connected to the club and it hopefully shows the direction in which the club is aiming to head into.”
With the addition of Ash Stott to the Stockport squad, Wild has added invaluable experience to his front line. Stott, having played for numerous clubs around Greater Manchester, also played in the Welsh Premier League, including an appearance in the Europa League for Bangor City in the qualifying rounds.
Speaking to Stott, the striker cannot wait to get the season underway. “My aspirations personally is to win the golden boot and get promoted, and I’m driven to do that”, said Stott.
The Lions striker added: “Some results have been pleasing and I think the season ahead is exciting for Stockport Town.
“The first game of the season is all I have been looking forward to, but it’s important we get off in the right way because consistency is key in this league.”
Wild is expecting yet another tough season ahead and has already pointed out contenders for promotion even at this early stage. He added: “As always I expect an extremely competitive league this season. I know the three clubs coming down from the Premier Division relatively well and I know for certainly that all three will be a real match of quality for all teams in the league.
“Nelson manager Al Norwood has worked around the clock to improve his side from last year and I have no doubts they will be in the higher reaches of the division.
“New Mills will always be a side that can win games with the quality of former Town striker Nathan Neequaye leading there line and having taken another player Ed Driver from ourselves they have a young man who will certainly score goals this campaign.
“I think that shows the quality that we have coming through the club that a team of such stature as New Mills will take a player from our youth set up to spearhead a promotion push.
“The league is an exciting place this year as with the upcoming changes to the leagues next season it will certainly be a year of huge ups and downs and one that we are all looking forward to getting going.”
Wild will be joined by his assistant manager, Phil Carratt, on the touchline once again this season, but Wild was keen to point out that his entire coaching staff have a role to play if the club is to progress.
He commented: “The coaching staff and I have worked tirelessly across the off season to ensure that we are all set and prepared for the new season.
“That in itself has come with changes as I am really pleased to welcome Lee Watmough as our new GK coach, and I have seen a real improvement in this area as his work is of such a high standard.
“Coupled with Lee, we welcome Jake North onboard as our new Physiotherapist, Jake has added a really professional outlook to the club and his continued work ethic in the rehabilitation of players is something that will certainly put us in a good place going forward.”
The Lions kick-off the season on Saturday against Litherland and the Town boss is well aware of the threat they will pose, having just missed out on automatic promotion last season.
Wild said: “The opening weekend sees us face Litherland REMYCA who, after such a great season last year, will be a side that will 100% be challenging for promotion again this year. It's a huge test for us going away to a side with as much quality as theirs on game one and a task that all at the club will be taking extremely seriously as we look to begin the season in a positive manner.”
Following Saturday’s opening weekend fixture, the Lions face Prestwich Heys in their first home match of the league season on Monday evening, kick-off 8pm.