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INTERVIEW: We'll be pushing each other on

18 June 2015

Dan Hanford looks ahead to pre-season

Goalkeeper Dan Hanford broke into his pre-season gym and fitness sessions to talk to us about his hopes for the 2015/16 campaign.

"Last season just wasn't good enough when you look back on it as a whole," he said. "Everyone who is here next season, including the new signings, will have a point to prove. We're coming back for pre-season early and I think it'll be good for us to get together so we can hit the ground running.

"Last season I was lucky because I got my debut under the gaffer. Unfortunately for Mark [Gillespie] he was out injured, but it was great for me. We'll both be fighting again during July to be in the team come the first game of the season.

"It's good to see Tony [Caig] get another full-time job, as he moves on, but myself and Mark have got to stick together and keep working hard. Even if the gaffer brings in another coach we've still got to push each other, stay out and do any extra work we need.

"I get on well with Mark and I've kept in touch with him over the summer. I think we both just want to get back. The good thing between us is that the competition is there as well as the friendship. We know it isn't personal, whoever plays, and we both just want to work hard to be number one."

"Although I've got a contract I'll still be working as hard as I did last year, because I want another one by Christmas," he explained. "I'm not here just to see out a contract, I'm here to improve and become a better player. 

"I've felt myself improve during the last 12 months. I came back to a club with full time coaching after my time in Malta, and I played games, which is exactly what you need.

"You have to deal with different pressures when you're playing regularly and the only way to get used to it is to be out there and doing it. I came in when Mark got injured and I felt I did well, but I did have that whole banana boot issue! I was finding Row Z in every stand at one point and, again, that brings a different kind of pressure on yourself. 

"There was also the incident on Boxing Day which brought yet another kind of pressure, because we had to regain the confidence of the players, manager and our fans. I think both of those things were down to naivety and the Boxing Day thing was definitely naïve from all of us. 

"In terms of the kicking, I don't know what was going on. I blamed it on the boots but I ended up going through three pairs of them. It's normally one of the best parts of my game and I think I was trying too hard in the end. When I came back in after Raphael [Spiegel] was here my kicking was ten times better, and hopefully next season that's where I'll be again." 

On getting into next season, he said: "Everyone looks forward to the fixtures coming out, but you know there's going to be a game every week anyway and you want the three points whoever you play. 

"We just want to be better than we were last season. We've got some tough pre-season games coming up and it's all about getting your fitness and confidence on the ball while you get to know the new players.

"It's been good to see new lads come in and the one I really wanted to see happen was Jason [Kennedy]. We saw him and David [Atkinson] last season so we know they'll fit in and be good players for us. I've played against and watched the rest of the lads so it will be good to see them come in and help us push on." 

And on the physical test ahead, he said: "I don't think anyone is ever ready for pre-season. It's a daunting task but I think all of the lads will be excited about getting back and playing football. 

"I don't really think you have much of a break because it's always in the back of your mind that you need to be fit. I gave myself the first two weeks to unwind and relax but then I was straight back into it and, even on holiday, I was jogging on the beach just to keep myself topped up.

"It is good to be able to get away and relax though, especially with me living up here. My family try and come up to watch me play as much as possible but it's a six hour drive for them. To go home and see my brother and sisters, my grandparents and my parents is great. My mum has been making my food and doing my washing, so I've enjoyed it! However, like I say, it does get to a point where you just want to get back to it."

"I think pre-season is worse for keepers," he told us. "You can do all the running in the world but when it comes to diving around it can feel like you've got five men on your back. It's good fun and it's a great feeling when you start getting back into it and when you start to feel the sharpness come back.

"My personal aims for next season are to play more games and get a new contract. As a team we need to have a much better season than last season. I'm not going to say play-offs or promotion, but as long as we're more consistent and more pleasing to watch than we were last season, I think the fans will see a more positive side to the club."

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