Toolstation NCEL Division One
Simon Houghton and Jason Dodsworth can sit in their gardens sipping Sangria Cocktails knowing that Nostell Miners Welfare have had a very successful summer so far.
The pair, who along with popular assistant boss Ryan Poskitt drove the club to safety at the speed of an express train, have established Nostell as early promotion candidates with their signings – notably Danny Critchlow, Adam Hayton and Gary Stevens.
Liam Radford has now committed too and he joins the rest of the squad that saved Nostell from relegation in pledging his future.
Former Pontefract Collieries manager Houghton admits Nostell’s off-season work has gone well, but insists that no-one is getting carried away.
“The summer has been brilliant so far and as it stands we are really happy with where we are,” Houghton told Non League Yorkshire.
“We identified four players we wanted to bring in and we got three. We have to be over the moon with that.
“It has been a really good month. Once as the season ended we had a couple of weeks and then got straight into it and at it.
“We’re confident. We’re confident in our own abilities and we are confident in the players’ abilities and with a good pre-season behind us, we’re confident we’ll be competitive.
“I think we do have a good spine to the side already, especially when you think of the likes of Joe (Thornton), Danny Critchlow, Jack (Owen), Liam Owen, Lee Swift, Tom Almond. Gary (Stevens) and others.
“Hopes have gone up, and that’s because the players we have brought in are quality, but the players already had are quality. It was just that we hadn’t had a pre-season together and hadn’t played together before.
“If we have a good pre-season and players come and are committed and we hit the ground running, we should go in the right direction. The vibe is good at the minute, but it is only the 13th June.
“We’re set with friendlies, set with training. We’re just chomping at the bit now.”
One thing is Houghton is not making is any bold statements about Nostell’s hopes for the upcoming season.
Although he concedes that with the squad assembled, Nostell appear capable of finishing near the very top of the Division, his main focus is on preparing for the new season.
“It is not going to be easy, other teams are probably going to have more money than us,” he said.
“We should be challenging with the players and experience we have got, pushing for a top six place this season.
“Every club I have been at has progressed every season and we want to give it a really good go. We are going to work hard in pre-season.
“We have a few trialists coming, who will be unknown quantities, but you never know they may play a bigger part in what is to come.
“But we have told all the players that it starts again. It is not what they have done, it is what they are going to do. It is all brand new.
“We want competition for places and we want a good squad. We know where we are going and we don’t to be leaving it until the last minute and the week before the season starts.
“We want to be ready early so everyone knows their roles and their jobs. That should stand us in good stead.”
Nostell return for pre-season training next week. Their first pre-season fixture is at Hall Green United on Friday 13th July.