Cautious Hucknall planning to chase the dream again

Eastwood Community FC v Hucknall Town FC, pictured is Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves and assistant manager Philip Henry
Eastwood Community FC v Hucknall Town FC, pictured is Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves and assistant manager Philip Henry

After a third place finish and best points tally for the club, Hucknall Town boss Andy Graves said they will again chase the promotion dream next season.

But once again he stressed the club won’t thrown money at it and put themselves in any danger.

“We finished third with our best points points tally in the four seasons we’ve been together,” he said.

“Obviously we are still a little bit off the promotion pace but we are heading in the right directions and I think a lot of other clubs would like to have finished in the top four for four seasons on the bounce.

“We know what we need. As we’ve said before, irrespective of all the stupid comments on social media about what budget we’ve supposedly got, they couldn’t be more far away from the truth.

“We will do everything we can within our financial restraints, but we won’t jeopardise anything.”

He added: “The committee asked me to to stay on about a month ago and I agreed to give it another year.

“I am sure that will please some people and not others but they don’t know all the ins and outs, so we ignore them.

“We will give it another go. We will aim for it and, with a bit of luck, you never know.

“We will bring a few players in for next season to freshen things up, thought the majority want to stay.”

A new keeper, a replacement for retiring defender Joe Atkinson and a goalscorer are top of the shopping list.

“I am straight into player recruitment,” said Graves. “I’ll probably get a holiday just before the season starts. But everything will be in place by that time.

“I have had broken holidays the last four years but need some time with my youngest daughter. They sacrifice a lot as I hardly see them.

“Obviously we are going to have to look for another centre half to replace Joe.

“I have also spoken with Mike (Randall) and we are going to bring a keeper in.

“He understands. I think there is another role for him here and I’m confident he will be happy with it.

“He wasn’t naturally a goalkeeper – he was a right back. And I was impressed with him how he played at Teversal the other night, even though he was struggling for the fitness. He was very steady and has a bit of speed as well.

“Then obviously we have got to find someone to put the ball in the back of the net, though we know they’re at a premium.

“What other clubs can afford to play – great. We can’t. It will have to be somebody that wants to come in and just play.

“It was the same old thing again on Saturday. We should have probably been four or five up by half-time.”

He added: “I will speak to all the players in the next fortnight and thank them for what they’ve done this season.

“One or two may not be sure of the future as they’ve not played many games.

“I think Devante Reittie, who we got from Mansfield Town via Coalville, is going to go round a few clubs. He has an agent who has things lined up for him.

“He did okay for us so whether we have him back we don’t know.”

There will also be changes behind the scenes.

Graves explained: “Phil (Henry) is stepping down as assistant. He’s going to be football secretary so he’s still going to have a lot of admin work to do but not so much hands-on.

“Stevo (Paul Stevenson) is coming up with me to form our partnership again, which was pretty good when we were together before.

“Colin Jones is joining me as a coach as well.”

Graves knows next season won’t get any easier.

He said: “We will obviously have Sherwood against us again next season and they will be tough and have a lot of ammunition, and Pinxton will be strong.

“The leagues are going to get juggled around a bit with what’s gone off at step six. Until we know exactly who is in, we don’t know what we will be up against.

“Congratulations to Eastwood. They went on a terrific run. Since we beat them they went unbeaten.

“Sherwood, unfortunately, led all the way with no defeats until they finally came unstuck in the last one. I bet they feel absolutely gutted.”

He added: “Now I am pencilling in pre-season games. We are back on 30th June and we’re definitely away up at Redcar for a game on 14th July.

“We have our presentation night on 2nd June (7.30) at the club and we’re trying to get as many people as we can there. We also have our AGM coming up soon.”