Skipper leaves, but Hucknall Town strengthening for new challenge

Hucknall Town's Dave Leak in action.
Hucknall Town's Dave Leak in action.

Promoted Hucknall Town have lost skipper Dave Leak, but have lined up several high quality players to help them in their first season in the East Midlands Counties League next season.

The loss of defensive lynchpin Leak is a blow to the Central Midlands League champions, but boss Andy Graves said: “I am confident of replacing him.

“He is leaving due to personal circumstances. He needs to go and play somewhere where he will be personally better off.

“But he’s been a good servant. We’ve not fallen out with him.

“Every player is always free to go. I have never been worried about players leaving. If they leave we bring in other players to cover or go with what we’ve got.

“We are not the sort of club that can go out and splash the cash as we have seen with several teams in the league we are going into.

“We won’t be competing like that. We will stay within what we’re comfortable with and within our means. We will only progress in the next league as quickly as we can within our means. No one should get carried away.

“At the moment everyone apart from one is staying and I am already speaking to a couple of players, but I can’t officially announce who they are as yet.

“There are players in the pipeline with only one leaving, and that’s of his own accord.”

Graves is largely confident of going with what he has, but will add a few experienced faces who have played at this level before to help them along.

“I will probably add three, possibly four. I don’t want to bring in too many,” he said.

“They are quality players who have played at this level before.

“We will be playing more games next season and if you add cup runs to it we can’t do it on a squad of 16-18 like last season. We’ll need a few more bodies.

“I have spoken to everyone. We will operate on the same system as last year where we will rest and rotate where we think necessary.

“I think we will have competition for all positions.”

He added: “We have been approached by several players we’d never thought about. But, until we see them in pre-season and see what they are like, we won’t get carried away.

“At the moment it’s just the players we have spoken to that we are interested in. But things change as, if other clubs get to find out who you are after, they will probably come in and offer them a lot more than we can.”

Graves said the club would be targeting a top 10 finish in their first season but, if the number of promotion places is extended to four, it would be something to aim at.

“Realistically, without getting carried away, we should finish in the top half,” he said.

“There are rumours about four promotion places next season. I’ve not seen it officially anywhere. If there were we would try to compete for one of them.

“But in our first year we will have to see how we fare without getting carried away.

“We want to be top half, see where we are at Christmas, and if it’s top 10 then you’d maybe try to push on.

“But there are some strong teams in there like Heanor, Sherwood, Eastwood, and Clipstone plus Shirebrook coming back into it. They all have that experience of all having played in there for a year or so.

“To be fair when we have played sides from above us in cup competitions we’ve done well. But they are one-off games.

“In a league scenario it’s about consistency over a long period, which is why we need a bigger squad.

“They are all up for it and if we can carry on the momentum from last season that would be great as we only lost once in the league.”