After an up and down 2016/17 campaign Didcot Town look for a stronger start this time around in what is looking to be another tough and competitive division.
The introduction of Kidlington, Cirencester, Cinderford and Bristol Manor Farm as well as the loss of Hereford will increase the level of competition with a lot of teams believing they can win promotion and it promises to be a very interesting season in The Evo-Stik League South, West.
As with every off season, there have been a number of player changes with the most noticeable being the departure of Ben Whitehead to Cirencester. We also saw James Organ depart for Kidlington whilst Callum McNish initially left the club only to return a couple of weeks later. We've also seen the introduction of Seth Humphries, Lewis Hayden, Owen Holloway, Matt Woodley and Cam McNeil to the squad whilst Ross MacDonald has impressed making the step up from the reserve side. Along with these new additions Didcot have been boosted by the return of the remainder of last year’s squad which finished the season so strongly.
Ahead of the season, Player-Manager Andy Ballard gave his thoughts as we approach the opening game 'I’ve been very pleased with how our pre-season campaign has gone. We lost a few experienced players over the summer but we’ve managed to bring in some young local players who are hungry to succeed and test themselves at Southern League level. I’d like to mention the players who’ve also committed to stay at the club from last season. It is a real testament to them that they’ve decided to stay, and it shows that they believe in what we are doing both on and off the pitch as a club.
On Saturday we kick off our Southern League campaign away to Bideford AFC. It’s always difficult to compare pre-season to how your league games will go, but we have produced some really positive performances, and results during our pre-season campaign, and I believe this should give us a great chance to go away and get a result on Saturday. It’s going to be a real test for our squad, as we’ll have to deal with the long journey and also the quality and experience of a tough Bideford side. However, this group of young, hungry players are confident and have no fear, and I am really looking forward to finding out where we are in comparison to our league counter-parts.
For those of you that are traveling to the game, please get behind this young squad, we're going to need all of your support both home and away this season and I hope my team can provide you with some competitive and exciting performances.'
The hope for Didcot supporters will be that the form from pre-season as well as the strong finish to last season continues into the league campaign and we attack the season in positive mood. A long trip and a tough game first up away at Bideford is closely followed by a home game on Tuesday night against Wimborne before we kick off our FA Cup campaign at Flackwell Heath a week Saturday. The games come thick and fast early on and the opportunity is there for Didcot to stamp their mark early on this season.
Please get behind the lads and give them all your fantastic support this season, we can only be successful as a club when everyone is fully behind the team 100%. This young team will need the support and patience of everyone to fulfil its undoubted potential and together anything is possible. It’s also crucial for the rest of Didcot to get behind its football club and we appeal to residents new and old to get behind us this year.
Updated 19:15 - 10 Aug 2017 by Joffy Chinnock