The Owls start their 2019/20 campaign on Saturday (3pm) with the now traditional curtain-raiser against friends and neighbours from Grimsby Town.
It is just 10 weeks since the memorable 6-0 drubbing of Stamford ended the Evostik East on a real high. The 7th placed finish was the Owls best-ever placing in the football pyramid and was particularly creditable after a poor start. Some silverware as well, in the shape of the Lincolnshire Senior Cup, was merited reward for the Club, who completed a successful transition back “home” to Linden.
Expectation is high on the local football scene that North East Lincolnshire’s two premier sides can enjoy a prosperous season at their respective levels. Several new faces have recently appeared at Blundell Park, with Michael Jolley beginning to shape his charges for the challenges ahead. The Mariners’ boss will be keen to see a push into the top-half of League Two.
There has also been a flurry of activity going on behind the scenes at Linden. As well as infrastructure improvements, manager Dave Smith has been busy forming his squad for what is sure to be a competitive test, in the newly named South-East Division. Having reported back for training last Thursday evening, players are already working hard. The coaching staff is employing some impressive workouts to ensure that the Owls will not be lacking in fitness.
New names on their way to Clee include ex-North Ferriby United keeper Lewis Exall, alongside experienced midfielder Adam Millson, who joins from Wisbech Town. Defenders Conor Marshall and Ben Clappison will provide plenty of competition for places at the back. The management team will be running the rule over a couple more possibilities before the League action gets underway on 17th August.
Many of the new signings for both clubs are likely to be involved at some point come the weekend. So, get yourself along to catch a first glimpse of how things are looking ahead of the big kick-off! Let’s hope for a repeat of last year’s exciting 4-3 triumph for Clee…
Boss Dave Smith took time out from his preparations to do a Q&A:
—–Some interesting new signings Dave, how are the preparations for the season going?
DS: “The squad has a real strength in depth, which was the main objective with our recruitment this Summer.
They are fit, hungry players with the quality to push for starting places. They’ve already had an impact in training and freshened things up.”
—–What are you hoping to see in Saturday’s game?
DS: “My hopes for Saturday is for us to be able to showcase how far we have come as a Club and to play in front of a full-house.
It means an awful lot to us that Grimsby Town include this fixture in their pre-season schedule. I hope it’s a great day off the pitch and everyone enjoys the Linden experience. Hopefully, many will return for some games during the season.”
—–How are you enjoying the challenges of life in the Owls’ hot-seat?
DS: “Loving every minute!
It really is a privilege to have this job. I work with good people at every level of the Club – it’s a bit special to be honest.
Spending time with the players and my staff is the best part. Add in a few wins and I’m a very happy man!!”
—-And, finally Dave, a few words for our fans?
DS: “Your support for the players really does make a difference.
The boys are working very hard in pre-season to be the best they can be and give you lots to cheer about this season. As always, give them your backing and they will give their all.
Hopefully, we can achieve something special together”.
Bar and food will be available from half past 12. There will be merchandise and season cards on sale too. With the weather forecast good, it promises to be a great occasion.
Last but not least, many thanks to:
ABP (match sponsor)
Forrested Boyd (ball sponsor)
UP THE OWLS!