Saffron Walden Town boss: Promotion has got to be the aim

Spike Bell. Picture by Dennis Savill

Spike Bell. Picture by Dennis Savill - Credit: Archant

RARELY can a season’s opener be described as a vital promotion battle, but Saffron Walden Town’s clash with Great Yarmouth on Saturday could prove to be just that.

Craig Calver. Picture by Dennis Savill

Craig Calver. Picture by Dennis Savill - Credit: Archant

Yarmouth finished last season strongly and beat Walden in the final game of the campaign. The seasiders have kept their squad together and added some fresh faces, and could be one of Walden’s main rivals in the Thurlow Nunn Division One top order battle.

But, after last season’s stabilising sixth-place finish, Walden boss Colin Wallington believes the team and club need to push on.

“This is a very big season for us,” he told the Reporter.

“We weren’t that far away but if we’d have gone up last season it would have been too early, particularly off the field.

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“An awful lot of work has gone in and I think we’re ready. Promotion has got to be the aim – that is my motivation, to get the club to the next stage.

“But it is going to be difficult. We’ll be going up against teams who are in a better financial position.”

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Walden are in good shape. Many players have stayed from last season while former Yeovil forward Craig Calver has come in to bolster the forward line. Old boys Jamie Solkham, Graeme Turner and Spike Bell have also returned to the club after spells with Sawbridgeworth.

Pre-season preparations stepped up this week, with a 4-0 win over Baldock on Saturday followed up with a thumping 5-1 victory at home to Essex Senior League side Enfield 1893 on Tuesday night.

Wallington has been “relatively pleased” with pre-season and highlights the club’s incredible crowd numbers – they had the highest of any team in the league last season – and home-based players as huge advantages going into the new campaign.

He said: “We get great support and a lot of people coming through the gate. And they get the opportunity to see people playing who they know – I certainly don’t know of any clubs where 13 of a 17-man squad are from their home town.

“We’re organised and stick together, and we’re doing things right.”

In a bid to get a bumper crowd through the gate for the opening game on Saturday, Walden will be offering free entry to children under 12 years old for the clash with Great Yarmouth at Catons Lane. Kick off is at 3pm.

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