Graves happy with pre-season

Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves - Pic by James Williamson
Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves - Pic by James Williamson

Hucknall Town manager Andy Graves says he’s been happy with his side’s progress during pre-season and that they will be raring to go for the new Central Midlands League campaign.

The Yellows narrowly missed out on promotion last season, both in terms of league position and after being denied the opportunity to go up in place of champions Selston by the league committee.

But having seen his players perform well in the friendlies they’ve played already, Graves believes Hucknall can put the disappointments behind them.

He said: “It was frustrating that we didn’t go up last year although with only 15 teams in the division this year you can see what was probably one of the main reasons we weren’t allowed to be promoted along with Belper.

“But we’re keen to go one better this year. It’s a tough league where only one team goes up but we have the belief we can do it.”

Hucknall’s most recent friendly formed part of a trip to the north-east last weekend where they were beaten 2-1 by former Yellows defender Roy Hunter’s Redcar Town as well as enjoying a trip to the races.

And on top of some encouraging displays before that, Graves has been happy with what he’s seen.

He said: “We’ve played really well at times and haven’t been behind at half-time in any game.

“The second halves have seen us make lots of changes which has upset the rhythm at times, but, for example, against Clipstone I put out what I’d deem to be closest to our strongest eleven and we were 2-0 up at the break.

“We’ve had tough games up to now against sides from higher levels, but the remaining friendlies will be sides from much closer to us in a footballing sense, so will be a more accurate marker as to where we are.”

The CML South season starts on August 6, although Hucknall will not play their first game until a week later after the league agreed to a request for a delay given Hucknall will have several players still on holiday on the earlier date.

Their opener will therefore be against Holbrook St Michaels at Watnall Road on Saturday, August 13.

Meanwhile, July 30 will see a charity match take place where Hucknall will take on a Reality TV XI.

The match will raise money for Meningitis UK, and has come about thanks to Hucknall’s David Stevenson having appeared on the BBC show The Apprentice last year before being fired by Lord Sugar in week eight.

Stevenson turned out for Hucknall’s reserve side last year, and has used his contacts to arrange for the charity side to be put together, which will include stars from Love Island, The Apprentice, Big Brother and Ex On The Beach, among others.

Admission will cost £2 for adults and £1 for concessions and the match will kick-off at 3pm at Watnall Road.