IT’S a case of two definitely out at Seel Park – and only time will tell how many might come in.
Mossley start pre-season training on Saturday and while co-boss Peter Band is confident the team spirit he has bred within his squad will keep departures to a minimum, he accepts the true picture will only become apparent over the coming month or so.
“At the moment everybody says they’re staying, but we’ll get the proof of the pudding over the next week or two,” he said.
“I know we’re at the bottom of the food chain but we’ve got a strong bond at the club and I’m hoping that will convince players to stay here rather than moving on if anyone tries to nick them for a few quid extra.”
Midfielder Arron Hevingham has been forced to retire by a recurring ankle problem. Band explained: “Arron got a bad injury a couple of years ago when he was playing for Lloyd Morrison at Flixton.
“It’s flared up again and he’s been to see a specialist who told him the could end up in a wheelchair if he tried to carry on playing. He’s just become a father so it’s not worth the risk.
“The other lad who’s gone is John Bennett, who has joined Curzon Ashton.”
Band is expecting around 30 players to attend the first training session but he and Morrison are not planning to make many signings. Too big a squad could cause ill-feeling because of the lack of opportunities for a first-team place.
In addition, Band expects to have six players available who missed large parts of last season through long-term injury of suspension. He sees the return of Ryan Marley, Dougie Carroll, Jamie Blair, Danny Grimshaw, Mitchell Bryant and Dean Warburton as much like making a raft of new signings.
Band said: “We’ve asked a few to come down – some from the North West Counties – but we won’t be going overboard because you can’t give everyone a game.
“With our budget we can’t go looking for the big names who are on silly money but later on we might pick up some of the lads who thought they could get in at a higher level and failed to do so.”
NOT content with a new manager at the helm, Stalybridge Celtic chairman Rob Gorski is planning a behind-the-scenes shake-up too.
As part of his root-and-branch reform of the Bower Fold outfit, Gorski wants to recruit new directors and to set up a management committee which fans can use to voice their opinions, make suggestions, and to volunteer their skills.
“Our directors do a great job, They’re all volunteers who put in a vast amount of their own time. Syd White and Gordon Greenwood probably spend more time here than they do at their own homes,” said the chairman.
“But I feel we’ve got to have some new faces. We’ve gone a bit stale and need some fresh contributions, fresh networking and fresh ideas.
“As for the management committee, if you want to call it that, I want fans to play a major role.
“They’re the people who watch us every week and I want to know what they think, what they feel needs to change, and how they think we can do things better. I want to make use of their sponsorship ideas, their contacts and their skills.
“Over the summer my plan is to get a group of around 20 together. There will be directors involved but the supporters will have the lead. It’s about them and their ideas.”
Gorski has also defended his full-time youth development project which has now been abandoned. Despite the criticism he has faced over the last year or two he insists the idea was sound and Celtic have only returned to being a traditional semi-professional outfit because that’s what manager Liam Watson wanted.
Money is not a motivating factor and Gorski says any savings made by going back to part-time football will be negligible.
He explained: “The return to being semi-professional has been completely driven by Liam. If he had wanted us to stay full-time we would have done so.
“Contrary to what a lot of people think, the concept of full-time football was a good one. Where it went wrong for us was that we didn’t have enough experience and physicality in the team. Everybody seemed to be 18 years old. But the concept wasn’t flawed.
“We now have Liam Watson in place and he’s a winner. He’s been there and done it four times. We’ll see how things go and if he wins promotion and wants us to return to being a full-time club then that’s what will happen.
“The most important person at any club is the manager and as chairman I have to back him.”
The third dimension of Gorski’s close-season plan is to convince the fans that he sees them as an important and valued part of Stalybridge Celtic.
“Some supporters feel there is a gap between them and the directors, and that the gap is bigger now than it has ever been,” he said.
“That really saddens me because I was a fan. I stood on those same terraces and at that time we knew much less. There was no internet or Twitter.
“I want to close that perceived gap and next season I’ll be making an effort to communicate. I’ll be spending more time in the social club than in the sponsors’ lounge.”
SAM WALKER may have walked but it’s business as usual at the Tameside Stadium. Manager John Flanagan is confident his Curzon Ashton side can make a decent fist of it in Vanarama North even without the star midfielder.
Walker, widely acclaimed as one of the best players in the Evo-stik NPL over the last couple of seasons, has joined National League Halifax Town to test his talents in non-league football’s top tier.
Flanagan is sad to see him go but sees no cause for despair.
“We’re fortunate to have some good players at this club, and we’ve had a highly successful season, so we’re lucky that we’ve only lost two so far - Sam, and Darren Thornton who’s gone to Nantwich,” said the Blues boss.
“I’m very sad that Sam has decided to leave but it’s not the end of the world. He’s only one man. We’ve managed without him before and we’ll manage without him again.
“My job is to replace him, and that could be with somebody already at the club or by making a new signing.
“I can fully understand the appeal Halifax would have for Sam. It’s the top level and practically full time. It’s the biggest step you can take in non-league in terms of the wages, the calibre of club, everything.”
Flanagan has already started to bring in new talent but insists there will be no wholesale dismantling of the squad. After two consecutive promotions he has faith in his players and believes they deserve the opportunity to prove themselves at National League level.
He has signed former Ashton United defender Alex Frost, ex-Stalybridge centre-back Tom Buckley, and Northwich Victoria striker Gary Burnett, a man he says has tried to get each year since becoming Curzon manager in 2011.
The intention is to take on the challenge of Vanarama North by playing the style of football that served so well in the Evo-stik League. Flanagan is fully aware that the Blues are going to find themselves up against clubs that are bigger and better resourced but says that whatever happens, he will never use the size of his wage bill as an excuse.
He commented: “It’s a higher level and I’m sure we’ve surprised some people by getting there. All right, it’s unlikely we’ll win a third promotion but at this point I see no reason why we shouldn’t give a good account of ourselves.
“After seven or eight games we’ll know whether we can hack it and if I’ll need to swap things around.”