Our third pre-season friendly takes us to deepest Warwickshire to face Nuneaton Borough, who play in the Southern League Premier Division Central (the 7th tier of the pyramid). The club has had re-incarnations, the most recent being in 2008 when they were disbanded, re-formed as Nuneaton Town and demoted by two divisions. There don’t seem to be any current Walsall connections, but there is an interesting personnel item in that their Assistant Manager (Dale Belford) is the father of current goalkeeper and captain Cameron Belford. (I saw the name Cameron Belford and thought there might be a Saddlers’ connection, but no…)
The Boro’ have played one pre-season match, losing last Saturday 0-2 at home to Notts County.
Darrell Clarke already has practically a full squad at his disposal, and we’re not even half-way through July - unheard of in recent years. The likely “First XI” from that squad has already been discussed on another thread, but it seems that the desired mixture of experience and youth is already apparent. All it needs now is the “gelling” procedure which will happen as the friendly matches progress, not to mention the inevitable bonding that will come from the expedition to Poland - departure is scheduled for Sunday, with a “behind closed doors” friendly to be played next Tuesday - I wonder if we have any spies in the camp?
One significant factor in Darrell Clarke’s signings has been his often-repeated mantra of “hungry” - he wants players who are hungry to prove themselves, hungry for success, and by extension to have pride in wearing the shirt. This approach, this state of mind, it has to be said, is something that was only patchy (at best) last season - if Clarke’s management can work on this psychological aspect we could be in for a very interesting season. Memories of a previous squad come flooding back - a squad where pride in the shirt, “all for one and one for all”, 100% effort from all players at all times … shades of Ray Graydon?
OK, back to Nuneaton … we should register our first pre-season win here, so let’s keep to the running prediction of 0-2 to the Saddlers, with goals from Adebayo and Triallist B …