With the Darlo squad now taking shape fans attentions turn to next season and how we will get on in the Evo-Stik Premier.
While any promoted team will face a step-up in the level of competition, we shouldn’t be daunted by the task ahead and in my opinion we will be in the promotion shake up once again.
The step-up will be greater than the one we faced after promotion from the Northern League in 2012/13. However, Curzon Ashton showed last season that it can be done. They did not make whole sale changes to their squad and were able to get the job done via the play-offs.
We are also aided by FC United winning the title this year. They have been the favourites every year in recent seasons for the title and this isn’t a bad thing for us that we won’t have to compete with them. I think Salford City will be up there challenging, they have already have a great squad and after Christmas this year they were unstoppable. They have it in their power to bring in a host of players if they are struggling, as they did last January, which is surely a big advantage.
We do have though plenty of players with experience in the Evo-stik Premier including new signings Kevin Burgess and Adam Nowakowski. Tom Portas and Graeme Armstrong also played in the division in the 2013/14 season for Whitby.
We haven’t had any success against teams from the division in the cup competitions over the last two seasons. However the ties with Buxton and Blyth Spartans were both ties which we could have won. Those who came close last season such as Workington, Ashton United, as well as Blyth themselves will surely have something to say at the top of the league.
I’m sure there will plenty of fans from the other teams in the division who think it is a bit of an insult that we are expecting to come into the division and challenge at the top right away. In reality we will only find out in the first months of the season how we are going to get on.
My opinion anyway is that we have a squad that will be in the top 10 and could easily be in the play-off shake up. The core of the squad is the same with a few very good additions which improve not only the starting eleven, but the depth of the squad as a whole. As a club we have a lot going for us currently and hopefully we can carry this momentum on over the next year.