Horsham YMCA manager Peter Buckland has revealed his struggle of putting together a pre-season campaign as well as looking back on last season’s disappointment.
The Gorings Mead outfit are beginning to gear up for the start of the new Southern Combination Premier season and another promotion bid.
Buckland has almost finalised his pre-season schedule which will kick-off on July 9 with a fixture against Horsham at The Shooting Field.
The YM boss is pleased with the set of friendlies in the offing but confessed it was a struggle to fill a whole complement of fixtures.
Buckland said: “I’ve never known a pre-season like it to try and arrange friendlies.
“The minute the final whistle went in the cup final at the start of May, I thought I’d get on to pre-season so I fired off my usual emails and it seems this year that I’ve missed a trick.
“I think because it’s a World Cup year, and everyone’s going to be engrossed in it, they got their fixture secretaries to arrange things very early.
“It was a case of me only just being able to put a pre-season together. We start off playing Horsham at Steyning and that will be a cracking game.
“We’ve got Alfold, and they’re going great and I think they’re a great little club.
“There’s Jarvis Brook away, another county side, but it gives me the opportunity to take a mixture of firsts, reserves and under-21s.
“We’ve then got Guildford City who we play every year, and Redhill. I’ve still got a vacant date on 31 July, before the league starts.
“I was at one stage negotiating with Guernsey but that just fell through, and we’re also talking to Newport on the Isle of Wight but it’s a question of it being a Tuesday night and going over to the island so it may be too much.
“I don’t put too much on results during pre-season, it’s all about getting them fit and getting their football brains on.”
Having had time to reflect on his side’s performance last season, Buckland was proud of how his side performed but felt they missed a good chance of a successful season.
YM finished 11 points shy of promotion as well as reaching the Peter Bentley Cup final, where they were beaten 4-0 by league winners Haywards Heath.
Buckland said: “Having had time to reflect and get over our disappointment, I think overall I am moderately pleased. I wouldn’t say I’m pleased full stop, but I’m moderately pleased.
“There are reasons for it and I’m not going to hide behind excuses. There were mitigating circumstances, chiefly we never had enough strength in depth in the first team.
“Several people asked me that when the injuries came in at a vital time could I not have brought people in?
“You can get bodies in easily but replacing people like-for-like for ability during the run-in is nothing short of impossible so you just go with the flow.
“You’ll always get injuries and suspensions, it’s not just exclusive to Peter at YM, everybody is the same. I’m sure even Haywards Heath had similar problems but we just never had the strength in depth.
“Overall I was disappointed but not overly. I’m quite excited for next season, and I can’t wait to start pre-season.”