New manager Des Macorison insists “exciting times” lie ahead as he begins the re-building process at Harrogate Railway.
The Starbeck club will play in NCEL Division One this term following their relegation from the top-flight on the final day of 2018/19, and are set to do so with a new-look side.
Macorison, who was handed the reins at Station View in May, is currently casting his eye over a group of around 40 players, with only a handful of that number remaining from last season’s squad.
Goalkeeper Joe Wilton, defenders Andy Sunley Luke McCrum and Simon Swales and striker Fraser Lancaster have returned to the Rail for pre-season training, but the majority of those who featured in 2018/19 have moved on.
Captain Steve Smith and lively winger Aaron Kitao have been re-united with former boss Craig Ogilvie at Yorkshire Amateur, striker Albert Ibrahimi is heading to the USA with Louisiana
State University Eunice Bengals, while the likes of Lewis Riley and Nuno Pereira are also destined for pastures new.
“I think that’s it’s fair to say that we’ll be a much-changed team this season, but these are exciting times for the club,” Macorison said.
“When I took the job I wasn’t expecting so many of the squad to be leaving. I thought that the majority would stay, however a lot of them have been tempted elsewhere.
“If you look at the quality in that side last season, I don’t think they should have got relegated - there were some really talented young lads. That said, the team I’m building for this year is going to be even better.
“I’ve got four strikers lined up who must have scored 120 times between them in 2018/19 at step seven and above, so they should add plenty of goals.
“We’ve had a lot of very good players at training. It’s now about tying down the ones who we want and cutting that number back so I can start to shape the squad and get them playing the
way I want.”
With four promotion places up for grabs in NCEL Division One this season, Macorison says that mounting a genuine push for a return to the Premier Division has to be on the agenda.
“I’d be lying if I said that we weren’t aiming for promotion, particularly as four go up,” the Rail chief added.
“Obviously we know it will be tough with the likes of North Ferriby and Selby in the division as I’m sure they’ll have money to spend, but we should be there or thereabouts.”
If Macorison is to succeed as far as his aim of challenging for promotion is concerned, he will have to find a way to get Railway into a habit of winning games again, something that has eluded many of his predecessors.
Since they were relegated from Evo-Stik Division One North at the end of 2015/16 the men from Station View have endured three years of struggle on the field, with only Paul Beesley’s five-month tenure as player-boss providing a spell of relative success.
A host of managers including Lee Ashworth, Liam Gray, Marlon Adams, Brian Davey and Craig Ogilvie have all done their best to revive the club’s fortunes with limited success, however Macorison is adamant that the task at hand does not faze him.
“It is a big job, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. It is one that I’m relishing,” he said.