Bulwell folded after a proposed takeover fell through, while Rolls have switched en-bloc to set up at fellow Central Midlands League (CML), South Division club, Eastwood Community.
It leaves Linby Colliery Welfare as Town’s only local rivals based in the Dispatch district. However, Graves says he is sceptical about them cashing in on the lack of competition by attracting the cream of Hucknall-based players.
“It’s a tragedy and a real shame that Bulwell and Rolls have gone, especially Bulwell because they were good people and we had some good games with them,” he said. “If the reasons given are correct, that is even more disappointing. But we might not benefit.
“I would love to have more local players at the club, providing they are of the right quality. But I often find that they would rather play with their mates. We take it quite seriously and try to be professional, so maybe they don’t like the added pressure and commitment.”
Graves also feels it’s unlikely that Town will pick up new signings from the disbanded clubs. “I suppose most of the Rolls lads will go to Eastwood, so that is up to them to sort out,” he said. “Also, a lot of players from Linby might follow former manager Dave Marlow now he has taken over at Arnold Town.
“In any event, I am happy with the squad we have. Everyone from last season is staying, and it’s a good squad. I am not looking to sign loads of players. I know what we need. We would just like to add two or three to boost competition for places.”
Among those two or three are a striker that Graves has made no secret about pursuing. “If we can get him, it will be brilliant,” he said. “I don’t want to say who he is until he has put pen to paper. He has been approached by other clubs, but we have had a chat and it seemed fairly positive. I am hoping he will make his decision this weekend.”
Other potential fresh faces on Graves’s radar include a 22-year-old midfielder, who has spent time at a Polish Premier League club, and a Romanian goalkeeper, who might vie with reserve-team cat Mike Randell if current number one James Beddingham becomes unavaliable after starting a doctor’s training course at Nottingham University.
Town have learned that the CML’s South Division has been reduced to 15 teams for next season. As well as Bulwell and Rolls, runners-up Belper United, who have been promoted, and Collingham and Clay Cross Town, who have switched to the North Division, have gone. However, champions Selston remain and look likely to be Town’s main rivals for the title, which they must win to guarantee automatic promotion.
Pre-season training at Watnall Road starts tomorrow, with their first pre-season friendly on July 6.