Having made up my mind to leave Greater Yarmouth, I went in search of a new job. My objective was to get in before all of the player and staff contracts were finalized for the upcoming season. One club which caught my eye was Hungerford Town.
They have fallen from grace and suffered relegation from Calor Southern Premier Division to the Calor Southern Division One South/West. Their previous manager was removed after the side failed to bounce back and settled in the middle of the table.
The interview went well and I was offered the job of manager for the 2020/21 Season. I accepted their offer and rolling up my sleeves and prepared to go to work. I will confess that a key motivation is that Slimbridge is in the same division and I am secretly relishing the chance to put one over them this season.
The team was loaded with debt and it looks like a total rebuild is in order. This will not be a quick fix however I am up for the challenge.
I was happy with most of the team. We had some dead wood which I cut mercilessly and the sought to add some depth to key positions.
During the season I brought in only four players. We had a pretty good side and I was conscious of not overextending financially. Two players were signed early on, and two much later as it became obvious that we had deficiencies in defense.
Joe Berry was signed to fill the vacant left back slot following the departure of Elliot Legg.
David McCall was an inspired signing in the left attacking midfield slot. He was also named as vice captain.
Robin Harrad was brought in during the last few months of the year as I attempted to strengthen my defense. He will be a key part of the side for the next campaign.
Oliver Bouton is another defender who came in to bolster the defense.
I am not big on loan signings however we had a real problem in the midfield which we had to address via the loan market at short notice.
James Molyneaux came in as a solid left back. My assistant kept thinking that he was first pick however Berry was always posting better numbers.
Rob Palmer was signed as backup in the central midfield position and performed well. Was injured with a destroyed knee and ruled out for 11 months so I sent him back.
Alfie Parsons was drafted in during an injury crisis. He made a total of 11 appearances but never really impressed.
Kevin Sales was another brought in during the injury crisis. Featured sixteen times and scored two goals.
Jonathon Greenwood was a player I was looking at for next season. I brought him in for a trial by combat and he did OK. Not sure if he will be back next year as he didn’t impress.
We said goodbye to a few players who I won’t mention here. None played any minutes for me so there is no need to elaborate further.
This season started with a hiss and a roar. After the first nine weeks we were challenging for top spot only to fall of over the next four weeks.
From then we sat around 10th spot until a late season dip saw as drop to mid table. A disappointing loss on the last day saw us finish in 15th spot.
Our performance in the cup competitions was reasonable. We exceeded expectations in both competitions we entered
Expectations : Reach the Preliminary Round.
Expectation was to reach the preliminary round which was where we started. We advanced to the 2nd Qualifying Round and bowed out on penalties to Hednesford.
Southern League Cup
Expectations : Be competitive.
We were not expected to win any games so to get to the second round was good. I would have liked to do better but it wasn’t to be.
Team of the Season
A couple of surprises here. I didn’t regard Seb Rose as being particularly effective and thought that Beeney would start ahead of Palmer.
Players of the Year
Chris Hulbert started 44 matches for us this season and was an automatic first pick for the side. The battle will be to locate a solid partner for him in the midfield.
David McCall was our Vice Captain and second top scorer with nine goals. Was a definite player to be asked back for next season.
Pilgrim struggled with fitness but still featured 39 times. I am slightly disappointed that he does not want to re-sign with us for next season.
Cullen was another who played well. He was playing out of position in the central midfield and I am not sure if he will be back as he wants too much money to resign.
Mike Robinson was our top goal scorer with thirteen goals. He also provided fourteen assists. Struggled a bit at times with consistency but still a valuable player.
I brought up my 200th game in management this season. This season was my worst one in terms of win percentage and I will be looking to improve these numbers next season.
This season saw me record my worst win percentage. I think that it is no coincidence that my side posted its worst goal tally.
Next season I am looking to consolidate the side in the middle of the table, and then challenge for a playoff place. I feel we are close to the mark as far as players are concerned, and it will depend on the budget we are given whether we can improve on our placement this year.
Dan Harvey was a top keeper and performed really well for the side. Was an automatic retention for us and I was glad to be able to resign him.
Joe Berry was another who I am glad will be around next season. This lad can only include.
Scott Winfield was offered a deal however has lost places in the pecking order following the youth intake. Has not developed enough to secure a first team spot.
Chris Hulbert is a first choice player for us and will be a valued member of the squad next season.
Mike Robinson has the number one striker spot for next season. Will be under competition from youth player Mark Owens which should spur him on.
Darron Beeney is the team captain and first choice defensive midfield player. Was out for three months with a damaged Achilles tendon which precipitated our drop in form. I will be keeping an eye on him moving forward.
Vice Captain David McCall is another key player for next season. While I have some good backup at left attacking midfield he is clearly number one.
We had a pretty good year for youth candidates with at least three who will feature in the first team squad for next season.
Is not really good enough to be in the squad. Retained as a youngster to see how he develops.
Only good enough to be a back-up to Pilgrim this year. Is currently first choice at right wing following Pilgrims defection.
Another who is in the squad to make up numbers and probably will not play any first team games.
This lad has the potential to be special. He will give Robinson a real fight and can also deputize at left attacking midfield. Is being retrained to play on the right due to being left footed.
May get some game time as a backup to Harker-Smith at right back next season. Has yet to play any first team games.
This youngster looks reasonable and will be a backup player next year. Has some work to do on the mental side of the game though. Is listed as being Iron Willed which I have not seen before.
Will be my understudy to Berry on the left next year. Is not at all quick which is a worry.
Another who is here to make up numbers. Will probably never get a contract with the club.
Billings is a good understudy keeper and will be kept on. He is a Model Professional and is being groomed to be the next first team keeper should Harvey get too expensive.