Welcome back to Managing At The Grassroots, the series on The Long Ball where Huw Owen lets us into the world of management at grassroots level. In this part, we see how pre-season has gone with some new faces and positive signs…
First of all, I’d like to apologise for a lack of blog action over the past couple of weeks, things have been a bit hectic for the Accies recently!
Since the last blog, we’ve lost a manager, signed a whole host of new players and done something that I believe is unprecedented in Accies history, and won all four of our pre-season games.
To begin with, and not long after my election as club secretary to go alongside my management role, we lost our Firsts manager. I won’t go into the details here, as some things are better left unsaid on the internet, but safe to say, it was a horrible process and one that very nearly cost us our Firsts side. However, we have a new manager on board, someone who has previous experience at the club, and all seems rosy in the Accies garden once again.
Of course, one of the best things about pre-season is transfers (as I write this, it is currently deadline day, and I am anxiously scanning the internet for rumours about signings for my beloved Cardiff City – somewhat forlornly I think!) The Accies have made numerous signings over pre-season, including a raft of players returning to the club with our new First manager. However, as Seconds manager, I’m most excited about my four signings, a centre back and creative midfielder from our youth teams, a holding midfielder and a centre forward, the four positions I feel my side needed to allow us to push on, as too often last season, I was asking players to play out of position to fill holes in the team. However, I am still on the lookout for a goalkeeper, so if anyone knows a keeper in Cardiff looking for a team, ask them to give me a bell!
The final element to pre-season is of course, training and friendlies. For the first time in a long time, we have been getting great numbers at pre-season training, and with a new structure in place on and off the pitch, the benefits have been clear to all, with fitness and results improving. Now, everyone likes a win, and the Accies have had four this pre-season. Our first came on the 6th August against a side from the Vale of Glamorgan Leagues, Dinas Powys Athletic, where we claimed a fantastic 6-3 victory. We took the lead early on, went in at half time 3-1 up, and never looked like losing that lead. A great performance all round from the boys and promising debuts from my new signings, bringing a debut goal for the creative midfielder and a brace for the centre forward.
Unfortunately, after that game injury struck, with both the new centre back and centre forward being ruled out for the rest of pre-season after picking up injuries at five-a-side. However, this didn’t deter us as we moved onto our next game on the 13th August against a side we’d taken one point off in the league the previous season, a 2-2 draw, the other league game we narrowly lost 2-1. Our opponents were decimated by injuries and withdrawals, meaning the game was a bit of a nothing contest, but, as the saying goes, you can only beat what’s in front of you, which we did, 9-2. It wasn’t the close, tough game we wanted, but it is always good to run up a few goals.
Our penultimate pre-season game then came on the 20th August, against my old side. I was hoping to win this one as we’d beaten them only once since I left the club. My wish was granted as we ran out 5-2 winners in weather more reminiscent of deepest, darkest, wettest December in Wales, in that we played in a howling gale and driving rain! Again, another great performance and a couple more debut goals for some new signings.
Our final pre-season game was played when I was taking a well-deserved summer break, but, in rather brilliant fashion, we made it four out of four with a brilliant 4-2 win against a tough side from our league system.
Overall, we’ve had a cracking, albeit very rocky, pre-season, scoring a total of 24 goals and conceding just 9. Not bad going for us! With everything now and place and the season just around the corner, the Accies are hoping for some success on the pitch, and hopefully some silverware.
You can find Huw on Twitter @HuwOwen12. Let him know what you think and tune in for the next instalment of Managing At The Grassroots.