With pre-season underway, chairman Kevin Sturmey provides an insight into the current state of play at the club:

“For those people who always say to me “I hope you have enjoyed some time off“, May and June are non-stop, and I don’t think I have had a whole day off yet! Even when I had a couple of days away, I have to clear emails or I get back to hundreds of them!

The National League is where we want to be, but we all have to understand there are some very big clubs in this League and some massive budgets, so we have to keep building on the foundations. The key is growing our fanbase as that is now going to be the way to generate more turnover especially on a match day. We can only do so much promotion, marketing, social media profile building etc but we need every fan promoting the club and town more than ever before.

Rob Dray has been working incredibly hard as he always does and has spoken to so many players, but we will keep searching 365 days a year to find players we want here. Not only do they have to be good players, but they also have to be the right characters to fit in to a changing room which is very special as every player will tell you. In sport that is not always the case but that is down to the Management Team and the Captains and senior pros who do a great job in making the changing room a challenging but professional atmosphere. Anyone who has played a good level of sport will tell you it’s not the same everywhere! There have been a number of trialists at training and some you will see in friendlies starting with last night at Clevedon while Rob is also in contact with a number of clubs over loan signings as while we have got a great squad, we will always look to add players if they are within budget and the positions where we want extra cover. Let’s also not forget our talisman since he signed Ross Stearn missed a lot of football last season so it will be like having a new signing. Ross has looked very sharp in training, and he really is someone you want firing as in my opinion he will always be one of the top scorers and he is one of those mercurial players that don’t come along too often. Let’s not forget we signed Jack Bycroft the week before last season began and what a signing he was so we will keep trying right up to the start and also throughout the season. Signing Dan Lavercombe was a great bit of business by Rob as while Jack was fantastic, we could not guarantee a loan signing in goal of that calibre every year and it’s vital we now have a permanent number 1. Dan will be a great addition.

Rob and I speak on most days and usually it’s a case of “he may become available” or “there is a loanee that may be good for us”. With so many local clubs now, it was always going to be tougher to get the marquee signing fans are always looking for. I can tell you it isn’t for the want of trying but we haven’t been able to quite do it with several being offered full time deals one level higher and we just couldn’t match some of the wage offers made by other clubs. However, we have a very capable squad, we learned a huge amount in our first year, and we will be prepared for another season where we aim to be better and break into the top half of the table and see how far we can get. As long as we compete and give 100% that’s all we can ask of players, and I think last year the players were fantastic.

Off the pitch we will continue with improvements which are ongoing and will never stop and over the season there will be a number of changes and improvements. On the agenda are LED Floodlights (the contractor list has just come through), the extra seating in the South stand (currently Les Marsh Carpets Stand but spaces still available for the draw, don’t miss out please contact me!) and permanent segregation which is being worked on now plus many other improvements which will be ongoing.

This pre-season we have booked a number of catering and bar outlets on a trial basis as we try to make sure fans can get served quickly and have a good choice but would always urge fans to get in early to sample what’s available. Pre-season is very much a trial on and off the pitch as we feel we can provide the best match day experience possible. We will be re-opening our second can bar but this needs a bit of work so we hope to open for the Tiverton match as there will still be alcohol restrictions for the Exeter match (don’t get me started on that subject!).

Finally, from me please buy a season ticket if you can, we need the revenue week in week out but also it guarantees you entry as I am sure we may have a few sell-outs this season. We have tried to be as flexible as possible so you can pay for a season ticket over three months now to help everyone’s cashflow. I look forward to seeing you all in the new season.”