The first game of any season brings with it a whole different sense of excitement, with everyone crossing everything they have in hope of a positive start, and with the tough pre-season schedule now just having hours left to run it’s over to the players as they prepare themselves to cross the white line.
“We’ve got a group of players who are ready for the start of the season, but I hope they’ve got the sense that it isn’t all about the first game,” manager Paul Simpson said. “We aren’t going to rest on the first game, we’ve got 45 more after it, not even including the cup games.
“They’re in a really good place, I’m disappointed that we’ve got some injuries, but that’s something we’ve all got to accept and deal with.
“I just want them to go and throw themselves into it, which will give the crowd we get here on Saturday something to shout about.”
“We’ve done the first part of the planning as coaches and it’s about the players now going and performing in an environment where people are judging them,” he added. “There’s obviously a little bit of judgement during pre-season, but the league and cup games are where they really get judged, and this is where it really matters.
“I’m a little bit skeptical when it comes to results in pre-season, I’m more about seeing how fit they are, what their shape is like and seeing how they perform.
“That’s what I hold onto, and they’ve given me a lot of enthusiasm in the way they’ve gone about it and given me real hope in the shape we’ve played. Now we’ve got to go and do it when it really matters, and fingers crossed that starts on Saturday.”
With an acknowledgement that it doesn’t all come down to Saturday’s result, there’s little doubt about the boost a victory can give the club and the town if that’s the outcome come 5pm.
“It doesn’t all hinge on Saturday, but without a doubt we want a good start,” he agreed. “There’s been a really big build up to it and I go back to being in the shop when the new shirts went on sale, and the enthusiasm that was in there.
“There’s a really good buzz about it and I know the best way to keep that buzz is for us to win games of football.
“We know we’ll get people coming to watch us play if we’re winning games of football, we’ve got to do that.
“For me, and I’m going to talk from a purely selfish point of view, if we win games of football that means we get more people in the stadium, which brings more money into the football club and gives me more money to strengthen the squad.
“If I’ve got to think about this being a long-term project, then that’s what we need to do because the way the football club is at the moment isn’t sustainable for the long-term future.
“We have to get more people in, more sponsorship and more revenue, to give us more funds to go and strengthen the squad.
"I want to be here for at least three years, I wouldn’t be moving up here and buying a house if I didn’t think I was going to be here for the long haul.
“The supporters can help with that. I stayed because of the enthusiasm they showed at the end of the season and I hope we can keep that and I’ll stay here for the long project.”
“We’re hoping for a big crowd on Saturday,” he said. “We want as many people in as we can to make it a brilliant atmosphere.
“I think I heard the forecast is going to be good, the first game of the season is usually scorching, so we want it to be a really good atmosphere to help the players go and perform and hopefully get a good result, which will bring them back for the next game.
“The season starts here and this is where we get judged now. The honeymoon of pre-season is over, this is where it really matters. I can’t wait for it to get started and I hope in January I’m still as excited about it all and I haven’t got any more grey hairs, which will mean we’re all in a good place.”
“I think it’s natural to feel the excitement, and I do still get nervous before games,” he admitted. “I think if you lose that you’re probably in the wrong game.
“I will get nervous but I’m looking forward to it now. I still need to name the team for the players so they know who is going to play, so I know there will be some disappointment there because they’ve all had equal game time over pre-season when they’ve been fit.
“We’re now at the point where I’ve got to select the 11 starters, but the 11 starters on Saturday aren’t going to play all 46 games, everybody is going to be needed.
“With what we’ve got and hopefully a few more additions, that will get us through to January. We’ll reassess it then when we see what’s going on, but I just can’t wait to get started now.
“I really want it to be a positive performance that gets a good result.”
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