Gary Hazlehurst caught up with manager Kevin Weldon on the eve of the season opener at Sandbach United.
GH: After the last two curtailed seasons, how does it feel to be starting another league campaign?
KW: It's good to be back and you can see the lads are happy to be back playing and training again. However with the infection rate rise and people having to self-isolate, it's almost as if its starting all over again. A lot of pre-season games have been cancelled, so let's just hope we can for fill the season
GH: The Badgers have had a busy pre season. How do you feel it has gone?
KW: With the Euro’s taking place we have had to shuffle the schedule round a little bit and although none of our games have been cancelled due to Covid we have been disrupted with lads testing positive or having to self-isolate. So the personnel for training and pre-season games have been very mixed and we haven’t been able to get everyone together at the same time to date. The lads have worked hard in training and are looking sharper as the games went on. Overall we’ve been pleased with the performances and it was only the Stone O.A. game where we didn’t really turn up but the lads had played a tough game on the Saturday against Boldmere St Michaels in searing heat and I think the energy levels were sapped. We were more concerned about minutes in legs and competing rather than results and I think the lads did well.
GH: With the FA restructure in the summer, it’s all change for this season with a move to the NWCFL. What are your thoughts with the move from the MFL?
KW: It’s disappointing to be moved from the Midland league as it was good standard and we have been moved to accommodate the loss of the West Midlands Prem. However it is a chance to go and visit different clubs, grounds and people. That’s what non league is about, meeting other clubs, encountering a tough game, having a beer together afterwards & making new friends. So now we are looking forward to the new challenge
GH: We start the campaign with two away games, starting on Saturday with a trip to Sandbach United. What do you know about the opposition and what sort of game are you expecting?
KW: It seems Sandbach are already being banded around as one of the favourites for the league so it will be a very tough game. They were third in the league last season before it was curtailed so I’m sure that’s where they will want to be again this year.
After a slow start Eccleshall were flying in the 19/20 season so again I’m sure they are going to be a tough team to face and they have a few familiar faces that we have come up against previously so we know they will be decent.
Hopefully we will be up to the challenge
GH: On Tuesday, it’s a trip to Eccleshall for the first of many local derbies. Does this add more spice to the fixture?
KW: We will miss a few local derbies after moving leagues so I’m sure as time goes on this will be one of those fixtures where you get the extra few butterflies in the stomach before the game and one that you look for in the fixture list.
GH: And finally, what can fans expect from the Badgers this season?
KW: Good question… as of previous season’s we will be looking to try and play good attractive attacking football. I feel that is what we have produced in my previous seasons at the club and hopefully our supporters enjoy the football the team produce. We are a young squad and we have to develop the young players and try and be successful as we can. One thing is for sure we will always give our all, so COYB