It’s one of the most exciting times in the football calender with the new league season now just three days away.
All the pre-season friendlies are in the rear-view mirror, the anticipation of meaningful games is nearly here and it’s a time of optimism and hope for any fan, with dreams of promotion and glorious cup wins abounding.
Goodness, if England can win a shoot-out in a World Cup, surely anything is possible in football?
For Tudors’ supporters, this year’s National League South campaign appears to offers a genuine shot at promotion. Last season saw Hemel finish in fifth place and earn a home tie in the playoffs before losing on penalties to eventual playoff victors Braintree Town.
Tudors’ boss Dean Brennan, now in his sixth year and with more than 500 appearances in charge at Vauxhall Road, brings back much of last season’s strong squad as well as some new faces who will bolster the team.
Just days before the season’s curtain-raiser this Saturday, when Hemel host Chippenham Town, Brennan sat down with Colin Perreira for a chat about the upcoming campaign. Long-distance ‘super fan’ Perreira has joined the club on a voluntary basis to help out with some media duties at the start of the 2018/19 term and perhaps beyond.
He will also be helping out as an administrator of the club’s Facebook page and conducting interviews with players and coaching staff.
Asked about his thoughts on the pre-season campaign and the season ahead, Brennan said: “Pre-season is more individual-based than team-based.
“We look to do a six-week pre-season until the first game of the new campaign,so we went back, I think, around Saturday, June 23.
“It is important for every player individually to get through a full, clean pre-season that will help to give them a base to have a good season.
“So the first four weeks is fitness-based, it’s all around fitness, it’s nothing to do with results or anything like that.
“It’s all around fitness and the last two weeks are more towards tactical stuff, organisation, philosophy and how we want to play heading into the first game of the season.
“It’s also about injury prevention as well as getting fit, so it’s important the players don’t pick up any injuries before we even start; I think that’s the key.
“Pre-season is individual for players so they can have a good base for a long, hard ten-month season.”
The Irishman added: “We always set a points target [for the season], I think that’s very important to set a points target, a collective one.
“It will be a more difficult division, I think everyone’s talking about that but it’s an exciting division.
“We’re not the biggest club in it, nowhere near, we’re going to go to places like Torquay, places like Woking,Billericay coming into it, Dulwich Hamlet have come into it, Slough Town have come into it, nobody’s even talking about Slough, they’re a big club.
“They’ve been a big non-league club over the years.
“So it’s a fantastic division, we’re delighted to be in it with them, we’ll continue to take it one game at a time, that’s all we can do – just concentrate on today and learn from yesterday and that’s how we try to work – simple as that really.
“If we can fulfil that points target we’ll have a very successful season come next May.”
Asked about how to improve on last season, the 38-year-old replied: “You can only learn from last year, bringing it on into this season.
“We didn’t score enough goals last year, so we’ve gone and bought in three new centre forwards [Charlie Sheringham returning for a second spell with the club, Steve Cawley and Phil Roberts].
“[Herschel] Sanchez Watt has joined us permanently in a wide area, we’ve got Karl Oliyide and people like that, Spencer McCall who wasn’t with us this time last year, so we’ve got a lot of attacking flair.
“Hopefully we can be as solid as we were last year, we defended really well at times last season but we’ve got to score more goals if we’re going to win football matches and improve on last season.”
The new season kicks-off at Vauxhall Road this Saturday at 3pm with the arrival of Chippenham Town. Last term, Hemel lost to that side 1-5 away but won the reverse fixture at home 3-1 when deep in the playoff race.