This week we focus on the return of players to training in preparation for participation in the play-offs.
But first, the demolition of the old clubhouse is complete leaving a lot of rubble still to be removed and the groundworks to take place next. This phase of the works will take some time as drainage is put in and preparations below ground made for the next stages. We will keep you updated on this but it is a good moment to remind ourselves of our ambitions for the new facility. The Brackley Town Events Centre will be a wonderful new building, purpose-designed and built to meet our needs as a football club and as the prime meeting place and events venue in Brackley. The wide interest shown in the project and what it will offer, demonstrates already the potential and makes the building project all the more exciting.
Onto the excitement around the play-offs. Training resumed last weekend after testing. All tests came back negative and the second round of testing was completed earlier last week.
Speaking after training on Thursday evening Kevin was upbeat about the first week back with the squad. “It has been a really strange three months away,” he said. “It has taken time to adjust but I am just delighted to be back and for us to have this chance to feature in the play-offs and to bring the season to a conclusion on the pitch. One minute they were happening, then they were off and then on again so it was all a bit frustrating but we are delighted to be moving forward and looking ahead now to the game. We have worked hard all season for this. When the season stopped there was still a lot of football to be played. This division was very open and we still had the likes of York and King’s Lynn to play. But congratulations to King’s Lynn. They had a remarkable season and I hope they do well in National League.”
“The squad has proved its consistency over a long period of time. We have finished third twice and now fourth. Everybody at the club should feel tremendously proud of what they’ve done to maintain that consistency against some fantastic teams and players and managers we come up against week in and week out. There is a lot of experience there and you hope it might help. The players are progressing and you hope it stands you in good stead. Hopefully players can channel their energy in the right direction.”
“It will be different playing in front of no crowd. It is disappointing for the fans but the league’s rules are very clear and it is really important that supporters stay away from the ground on the day of the match.”
“If we play to the level we are capable of we know we have a chance against anybody. We have shown good consistency but we know it will be a tough game. There is little between the teams at this stage.”
“It has been great to be back with the players. The testing was not pleasant and a bit of a surprise to one or two of the lads. It has caused some banter shall we say! But we have got on with it. We couldn’t wait to get back out there doing what we all love. We have had some good early sessions - in effect it is a mini pre-season. The players generally have come back strong and in a good place. We want to get to game day as fit and as strong and confident as we can and if we can do that I will be delighted.”
Looking ahead to the game against Gateshead Kevin is in no doubt how difficult it will be: “They are a good side. They played really well when we went up there earlier in the season. There’s a lot of ability there and we are under no illusion it will be an incredibly tough game. But we want to be competing at the sharp end of things in games like this. There is a lot at stake for both sides and everyone involved. It is new territory for me to play under these circumstances but it is also for 99% of players and managers alike. Promotion was the goal this season so I am just delighted to have this opportunity.”
Kevin reflected on the past year and in particular the fire: “It is exciting to see the progress being made now with the clubhouse re-build. There was a long period of frustration and if I am honest I underestimated the bearing the loss of the clubhouse would have. Before the fire we had a good bond with the supporters and a general togetherness. Credit to everybody at the club for getting through this period. Everyone knuckled down, we finished fourth and now have got this chance to achieve our goal. Hopefully we can be successful.”
With a further relaxing of some restrictions due to the pandemic including the opening of pubs and restaurants, please continue to follow the guidance to keep everybody in our town safe and well.
We will provide the next update next Saturday but in the meantime - stay safe, stay well.