RUGBY TOWN: Pre-season training starts for Valley

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Manager Stringer looks forward to the new season

With Rugby Town due to back in training this Saturday after a seven week break, manager Dave Stringer looked ahead to the challenge awaiting his side in the coming season’s Southern League Central Division.

Valley narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier Division last time out after a play-off final defeat, and Stringer is preparing for another stern test in 2013/14.

He said: “It’s been good to have the opportunity to recharge the batteries, but we’re all looking forward to getting going again now.

“The play-off final was very hard to take at the time and it was cruel to come away with no reward after such a long and successful season but that’s the way football is at times.

“It’s going to be just as tough this time. Clubs who were up there challenging before like Royston and Slough have strengthened their squads over the summer, and newcomers Dunstable also appear to be bringing in players who have the experience and ability to do well at this level.”

Stringer is hoping to retain the bulk of his squad from last year, although midfielder Sam Belcher is ruled out for the long term, with Robbie Banks’s rehabilitation from a broken leg also meaning he will miss the beginning of the campaign.

He continued: “We’ve assembled a young talented squad, who I strongly believe could take this club forward. Of course these players have been in demand elsewhere, so I’ve put in a lot of effort over the past month or so persuading them to come back and play for me.

“Ideally it would be good to be able to add three or four new faces, but we may have to start off lighter in numbers than I would prefer. It’s going to be difficult to emulate last season’s monumental efforts, but we will give it a go.”

Town’s first warm-up game is scheduled for the Butlin Road astroturf versus Alvis on July 6th, with a first home friendly on the main surface set for a fortnight later against Conference North Solihull Moors.

# Rugby will compete in the newly-named Calor League next season, after a sponsorship deal with Calor Gas was announced at the Southern League AGM in Torquay last weekend – ending the two-year association with Evo-Stik.

Town’s representatives were formally presented with the 2012/13 Central Division Runners-Up Cup and Silver Salver at the event.

Other news from the meeting saw the league unable to ratify the constitution of the divisions for the forthcoming term – pending an appeal from Guildford and Godalming against their placement in the South & West Division.

There will be a number of changes to the Red Insure (League) Cup next season, including the removal of the rule stipulating a minimum number of first team regulars in each team’s line-up, with participation in the competition also now voluntary. In addition, any league cup fixture which is level at the end of the normal time will go straight to a penalty shoot-out.

Mark Ives of the FA presenting the Central Division runners-up silverware to Club Directors Les Leeson, Mike Yeats and Danny Lorden and Secretary Doug Wilkins.

Picture: TH Photography.