The Central Midlands League South season may only have just ended but Hucknall Town have already got their plans together for the summer’s friendly fixtures.
Town finished fourth in the league in a season where they were title contenders until the final weeks of the campaign when Selston and Eastwood CFC formed a tw0-way battle for honours, Selston eventually winning promotion.
Now, as Andy Graves aims to spearhead another promotion charge next season, he’s put together a competitive list of pre-season fixtures, all of which will take place at Hucknall’s Watnall Road aside from a trip to Horncastle Town on July 22.
The first game will see Real United of the Notts Senior League as the visitors on Monday, July 3, before former Yellows boss Tommy Brookbanks brings his Coalville Town side to Watnall Road on Thursday, July 6.
An inter-club friendly will follow two days later as the first team play the reserve team, before Hucknall’s FA Vase conquerors AFC Mansfield visit on Tuesday, July 11.
A Royal Lancers XI will play Hucknall on Saturday, July 15 before Evo-Stik Division One South side Carlton Town arrive four days later on Wednesday, July 19.
The trip to Horncastle on July 22 could see players and fans enjoy a whole weekend on the Lincolnshire coast, before a return to Watnall Road will see Hucknall play Bilborough Town on Wednesday, July 26.
The last scheduled friendly is currently due to take place on Saturday, July 29, when Hucknall will host Redcar Town, managed by former Hucknall star Roy Hunter and who hosted the Yellows in a corresponding friendly last summer.
Yellows boss Andy Graves said: “As always it’s a good mix of games for us and I’m pleased to have got the schedule finalised nice and early.
“We’ve tried to be as professional as possible and plan ahead both on the friendlies front and in terms of targeting players we want, although we can’t officially start talking to potential signings quite yet.
“Either way, I hope to have some new faces on show when pre-season starts on June 17 and for the friendly games, and they could include one or two who have been doing well in the reserves and who deserve a chance in the first team.”
In terms of the identity of new players, Graves is keen to keep names under wraps for now but is well aware of the areas of the pitch he wants to strengthen.
He said: “I’m keen on two strikers, a midfielder and a player who can play centrally or up front.
“It’s no secret that had we been a lot more clinical at times last season we could have had a far more sustained promotion challenge. It’s fine winning games 6-0 or 7-0 but it’s turning the draws into wins or grinding out 1-0 wins that will make the difference.
“We’ll be judged on whether we get promotion or not and taking more of our chances in tight games will be the first key to achieving that in what will be another very close division.”
Rumours that the Central Midlands League could be reshuffled to make a bigger, unregionalised division are yet to be confirmed, but Graves believes there has to be more matches played.
He added: “We can’t have another 15-team division, it just gets silly with all the free dates and only playing 28 games.
“I don’t know what the plans are if any but a bigger division will in my eyes be a good idea so I await with interest what happens at the AGM.”