Friday, May 17
Royston, Hertfordshire


Steve Castle on Pre-Season So Far

Hi everyone and welcome to this new regular blog from the management and players.

Hopefully we will be able to give you an insight into the workings of the football club from the playing side. Our choices (whether you agree or not!!) and explanations which may make decisions clearer.

At the time of writing I am a semi-satisfied manager after defeating Ampthill 6-0 on Tuesday night! A really solid performance from the lads with their best collective show to date. My most pleasing aspect as I’m sure the defenders would agree was the clean sheet. After conceding some ‘silly’ goals lately, this was pleasing.

To review the pre season up to now we have to go back to 1st July, when the lads met at Roysia School and when I say all I mean all. First Team, Reserves and A team lads all came along. Some sixty plus players all looking to impress and a lot did. The first thing we did is test them with a ‘Yo Yo’ bleep test. This is a football related test to judge fitness levels. Most were good. Ross Collins and Jhai Dhillon especially were exceptional. Generally a good fitness base was found from nearly all lads.

After another Tough Thursday session we moved onto the hills of Royston golf course on Saturday morning. Since packing up playing my comfort was standing on the top of a hill (Barry Fry style!!) yelling at lads to work harder!! Lol!! Seriously the lads did fantastic.   Week one done.

Week 2:

The coming week consisted of a session Monday night, a Tuesday game against St Albans and Thursday training. The game went OK, although losing 5-2 against a strong Conference South club I thought we acquitted ourselves reasonably well. Anyone that came over to Oaklands College in St Albans saw a free flowing game where we went ahead by an effort from the excellent Lewis Endacott and although the opposition stepped things up after that to score two quick replies. We completely changed our line up for the second half, introducing Stuart Bridges into the midfield. Stuart is the brother of Scott and at the time of writing this we are hopeful Stuart will be joining us for the season at least. As with Scott, Stuart has an excellent pedigree, both playing youth football at Aston Villa and representing England. They seem very comfortable playing as a pair. Long may this continue? Rob Mason opened his account for the season by scoring from the penalty spot. Unfortunately for him that is as much as his been able to do due to a groin injury that needs an operation. Hurry up Rob! We miss you!! On the injury front we have Luke Robins who is in a similar situation. Luke is waiting for confirmation of an op (groin/hernia). Yet again quick as you can Luke!!

On to the Saturday.

We plotted up at Haringey Borough FC in North London. 45 minutes for everyone was the plan. It makes games a little disjointed but at this time fitness and injury prevention is important. The opposition in my opinion were very good and I’m sure a successful season is ahead of them in Step 5. We drew 1-1 with Spyros Mentis levelling the scoring. I felt we didn’t shut the ball down quickly enough and when we did have the ball we gave it away too quickly. On a very hot day a recipe for needless running around. Lads need to work on this!!

Week 3:

On to the third week and change of venue for the first team training. I’m sure most of you are aware, but Robbie Nightingale is groundsman at Clare College in Cambridge. It is a fantastic facility and we are very privileged to use it. Cheers Rob!! The balls are out and are staying out while we are here! 

Tuesday- Keep ball practice.

Thursday-Practice game. Very high tempo.

Saturday 19th

Two way connections between us & Takeley. Duncan Easley and Martin Paine their new management team and yours truly, their old manager.

A slightly disappointing day from our prospective as we went down twice to two very sloppy goals. We had the lion’s share of play and levelled quite comfortably through Ryan Lockett. Numerous chances were missed. Second half we had to equalise again, this time by Ross Collins. The last half an hour we started to show more clinical finishing with Craig Hammond and Glodie Kweme giving us a respectable score line.

So onto this week Tuesday – a game against Ampthill Town, this as I’ve mentioned was a brilliant team performance from all!!

Wednesday- Game against St Margaretsbury and then training at Clare College on Thursday.

Special mention to our new Goalkeeper Paul Bastock. Paul comes to us on a high from just last season gaining promotion for St Albans to the Conference South. Along with my new Assistant Manager Chris Watters who has also joined us from St Albans' promotion winning team. Both have numerous promotions behind them and vital experience. Along with playing ability Chris is an exceptional coach who at some stage will be a great manager. I personally welcome him to the club and onto the management team, although don't hang them boots up too quickly mate!! Lol!!

Other new faces are plentiful. As the pre-season progresses I will comment on them.

In short I feel a really good steady progression is happening with all the lads. Ryan Lockett, Craig Hammond and Lewis Endacott need special praise for their attitude towards training.