Robins media man James Burgoyne caught up with the manager Danny Greaves prior to pre-season, after what has been a turbulent few months for the club and the wider community.
It will be a busy couple of months for the Town boss as his squad prepare for the 2020/21 season, starting at Bishops Sutton on Saturday with a behind-closed-doors friendly.
Q1: How has it been since returning to training post-lockdown?
Danny Greaves: "It’s been good to get back out on the grass with the boys, although a little strange. For the first few weeks we were training in small groups due to the Government guidelines, we then increased to full group training at the end of July. Initially we were working blind with regards to start dates, which is very hard as you can’t plan friendlies, don’t know how hard to push the boys early on as the season may start in October, November or January. We have since been given some guidance which looks like we will kick off with the FA Cup on Saturday 12th September, and the league could be the 19th September, so now we will really start stepping things up."
Q2: In what has been a turbulent few months for the club, how important was the success of the £20k Crowdfunder campaign not only to the club but the morale of the squad?
DG: "I think it’s been well publicised, but the level of support from friends, family, supporters and sponsors was absolutely mind blowing. It show’s what we can do when we all pull together. It was essential to get us through some very challenging months with no income. So once again I would personally like to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated But let’s be clear, this season is going to be very challenging financially, not just for us, but the majority of non league clubs. We still need help. We need those season ticket sales, player sponsorships, advertisement boards, shirts and merchandise being purchased when this is available to ensure we continue to bring in much needed income."
Q3: I’ve seen you’ve been training up on the new Frome Town Robins facility, how have you been finding it up there?
DG: "It is superb. A massive thank you to Ben and Rich for having us over. The Robins have been really accommodating, and it is great to have everyone based in one place. The pitches are great, and we have everything we need there. Lots of further development is taking place at present, and it will be a fantastic facility for young lads in the area to come and play, train and develop, which will hopefully benefit the first team down the road. We really want to build those relationships with the Robins, so this is just the start of that. Simmo and I have been getting to training early and its great to see the young kids coaching. We have been able to speak to some of the Robins coaches and have also recently had Ben Starr involved with recent first team sessions. It’s becoming a buzz word/cliché and is a bit cheesy, but we really do want this to become truly one club and have a real community feel."
Q4: With the departure of James Moon and the arrival of Neil Simons as Assistant Manager, how has the change in backroom staff been for you as you look forward to what will be an interesting season?
DG: "It’s been good. Mooner did a great job. This was his first managerial job and he did a superb job transitioning from a player to management/coaching. The players liked him and respected his work. I enjoyed working with him, and 9 times out of 10 we were on the same page with our beliefs and principles. I wish him well and I’m sure he will do well in the game with whatever he chooses to do with his coaching journey. Neil is a completely different number 2, which is a good thing. He won’t be compared to Mooner as they have completely different skills and I have added him to our management team to bring those different qualities. Its been good fun working with him. He has come in with fresh eyes, and although last season was good, everything aspects has been challenged by us both, and although 99% will stay the same, that 1% change we may make could make all the difference. I am thankful to be working with such a great team of people around me. We have kept Simon Monks, and Alan Bull who are both invaluable members of my team. Derek Graham is never far away. Bash is part of the club. I have a great team around me."
Q5: You’ve bought in three new faces in the summer, how have they been settling into the squad?
DG: "Really well to be honest. We did our homework on these lads. Not only footballing ability but also character as they need to fit with the group and our values as a club. James Carey and Jake Jackson have both been with the club previously so have fitted straight in, while James Ollis is a great young lad who has settled in well. All 3 lads have so much ability and will strengthen the squad going into the new season."
Q6: You’ve managed to keep most of your key players over the summer including club stalwarts like Sam Teale and Jon Davies, how much has the pleased you and how vital will it be in the new season?
DG: "Everybody loves and new signing, but my number 1 priority was to retain the lads from last year. I’m delighted we have managed to do that and keep all bar 3. We were joint top for a reason, and that’s because we had a squad of 16 full of quality in every position and good characters, so keeping these lads was essential. We have however lost Kyle Phillips (although he has agreed to stay on forms as cover which is great), Dan Cottle who has left to join his local club Paulton, and Mark Cooper who has joined his local club Corsham. We wish these lads well, but I’m sure the 3 additions will maintain those standards that these lads had set."
Q7: After the disappointment of not being able to finish the job last season, how have you been helping to prepare them mentally for the next campaign?
DG: "Not to rest on our laurels! The moment you think you have made it,you will get bitten on the behind. The extended break has given us plenty of time to really review last season, both good and bad. It sounds simple but we need to hammer home all of the positive things we did last year and repeat them. But just as importantly, although we only lost 4 games all season, I have learnt some real lessons. Tactical things, like how we set up for certain games, against certain teams & styles, or how we manage games in those periods when teams get on top for spells. We want to improve, and to do that we need to turn some of those draws into wins, and if possible, reduce the number of defeats. It is a case of improving those fine margins and gaining that extra 3-4% whilst maintain all the good bits which put us in such a strong position last season, which I’m confident we will do as a group."
Q8: How excited are you ahead of the possibility of fans returning to Badgers Hill (when it is safe to do so) and how important are they in helping the club towards its goals next season?
DG: "I’ve got to be honest, that is the biggest thing I am looking forward to. Getting back on that pitch in front of our fans and watching our lads perform. Its been a long time! Hopefully we get some positive news, and firm confirmation that we can start mid-September with our fans present."