The Bloods have gone through pre-season unbeaten and, according to assistant-boss Aeon Lattie, there’s a definite buzz about the place. He has his fingers crossed that at long last the Butchers Arms might become a fortress again.
“I’m hoping, but at this point I just don’t know,” said Lattie. “Going through our friendlies without losing is a big plus on what we managed in previous years. All I can say is that there seems to be a lot of confidence around the place and some nice lads who have joined us because they want to play the way we do — by getting the ball down and passing.
“There’s certainly a bit of a buzz but suppose you always get that at the start of a season.”
Manager Dave Pace has brought in a clutch of new faces, many of them from Welsh clubs. Among them goalkeeper James Coates, signed from Welsh Premier League side Airbus; Radcliffe full-back Aaron Walters; defensive midfielder Phil Clarke from Flint Town; 19-year-old Preston centre-half Josh Heaton who was on loan at Tamworth last season; winger Jeff King from Ashton United; midfielders Eddie Toner and Michael Roddy (both Northwich Victoria) and Paul McManus (Flint Town), plus Bangor City strikers Stephen Lewis and Liam Caddick.
Droylsden also have their informal deal with Stalybridge Celtic where they have access to players waiting for their chance to break through into the Vanarama North club’s match squad.
Lattie believes the agreement is a good one but emphasised that the Butchers Arms has not become a halfway house for Bower Fold cast-offs.
“We’re not there just to take players who can’t get into Liam (Watson’s) team. We want to be as good as Stalybridge if not better than them,” said the Bloods number-two.
“But if it works for both clubs then it’s clearly a great thing. It’s nice to see somebody wanting to help us because a lot of people washed their hands of us when we started to have a hard time.
“We’ve had dealings with Liam since his Southport days and last season he let us have Amour Cisse Lingouba for a time.”
As for who the promotion challengers will be, Lattie is reluctant to make any predictions. He said: “We have to Lancaster for the first game. And I’ve heard they’ve spent some money. But it’s going to take a few games to work out who the frontrunners might be.
“One sad things is that we find ourselves facing Hyde United at Evo-stik first division north level when you consider how many times we met in Conference North.
“It’s a bit dis-spiriting but then I think of Matt Smith, who scored the goal that let Fulham beat Newcastle last Friday, and Dale Stephens, who might be leaving Brighton for Burnley in the Premier League, and I think we must be doing something right at Droylsden. We must be having some sort of positive effect.
“These are real good-news stories and if I’m honest I’m kind of excited about the new season.
“I even have a personal ambition. I was 50 last month and I’m determined to make at least one appearance for Droylsden this year. Maybe I could sneak into one of the Manchester Premier Cup ties. But first of all I’ve got to convince Dave Pace to sign me.”