Although ending in the play off semi final defeat at Kings Lynn last season was Town’s best ever, but since then supporters have been rocked by the departures among others of manager Thomas Baillie, skipper Jimmy Fry, leading scorer Mike Taylor, midfield playmaker Will Grocott and the imposing central defensive partnership of Jamie McAteer and Jordan Williams.
The open meeting with new boss Tommy Wright on Thursday evening was therefore the ideal opportunity for the Town faithful to find out how the new campaign was likely to develop.
Would the heady heights of last season which were built upon the previous six years of progress under Carl Adams be repeated, or where Town going to enter a period of consolidation ?
Tommy Wright was joined by the ex-Evesham United manager Paul Collicutt who has been added to the management team after being approached by Jed McCrory in what was described as “an infectious 30 minute telephone conversation.”
With a decent and enthusiastic attendance of around fifty the meeting was presided over by Town Director Mark Bickley who began by assuring everyone that in spite of not a lot being publicised plenty had been going on particularly with regard to the Academy.
Mark went on to emphasise that the Club wished to develop the Academy so that players could make the transition to the first team, and the situation in previous years where players from Town’s youth system had not been given any first team opportunities would not be repeated in the future.
Tommy took over by immediately confirming that he was all in favour of giving young players a chance. He had been handed his debut at Leicester City when only 17 and in was a philosophy he passionately believed in.
The meeting was then opened to questions from the floor all of which were responded to with honesty and in some cases humour.
A number of questions related to new players coming in and also who were staying on. Mark advised that Ross Oulton and Lewis Wilson were the latest to sign on for the new season following Cody Fisher, Tom Fishwick and Albi Skendi who had already done so. Kynan Isaac was also expected to stay while it was hoped that Wilson Carvalho would also decide to return.
Following the recent arrival of keeper Sam Lomax and winger Kurtis Revan Tommy advised that a number of other new signings were in the pipeline and will hopefully be announced soon, and he answered a specific question by saying that two centre halves were a priority to replace McAteer and Williams.
The subject of Town’s playing budget was inevitably raised with Tommy confirming that it was be the same as last season’s. It wouldn’t be the biggest in the League but he was satisfied that it was competitive and that it wold allow him to assemble a squad that would more than hold its own.
Both Mark and Tommy were keen to emphasise that Town would operate strictly within their means and that they “would not be breaking the bank” to pay over the odds just to get a particular player in. Some clubs were known to be offering “silly money” but Town were not going to be one of them.
With regard to formation Tommy advised that he knew Thomas Baillie had used 4-2-3-1 last season but that he favoured 4-3-3 and he promised supports that his team would play would play pacy attacking football which e hoped the fans would appreciate. Players would also be played in their correct position when reference was made to the number of positions filled by Lewis Wilson under the previous regime.
When pressed on what Town’s ambitions were for the coming season Mark stated that the Board were looking to advance to the next level but that it was realised that such progress might take three to five years to achieve, and he again emphasised that the focus was on developing the Academy in conjunction with the Youth team and FC Stratford and being financially stable.
A positive meeting ended with Mark, Tommy and Paul being thanked for their time, and preparations for the new season will now step up a gear with training commencing next Thursday (June 27th).