After what can only be described as an ill-feted, ignoble and ultimately ignominious Sky Bet League Two campaign last season, Notts County are gunning for success in their new environs — non-league football.
For that is where the Meadow Lane side find themselves after the agony of relegation from the football league last term; but fans so hurt at the woe of the demotion can at least be cheered by the new found gusto with which the County set-up have gone about their preparations for the new campaign and their bid to bounce back at the first time of asking.
They kick off their National League season tomorrow (Saturday) at Eastleigh having recruited seven new players in a short space of time as boss Neal Ardley tries to shape a squad that will make an impact and gain promotion without spending too much time in the world of non-league football.
He has swooped for journeyman striker Nathan Tyson (the goal-getter is aged 37 and has played for 13 different cubs in his 20-year career) as well as defenders Zoumana Bakayogo from Tranmere Rovers, Damien McCrory from Burton Albion, and trialist Dion Kelly-Evans. And just to reinforce the rear guard, Ardley has also added a keeper to the mix in the form of Sam Slocombe who has joined after leaving Bristol Rovers. And an extra central defender would come in handy, thinks Ardley — so he has also acquired the services of much-travelled toiler Ben Turner.
All the activity comes with a backdrop of turmoil and confusion at the Magpies — a transfer embargo had been in place — with new owners finally at the helm. Brothers Christoffer and Alexander Reedtz are now the owners of the club (they took over from the previous owner Alan Hardy) and the path is now clear for progress to be made.
A clearly relieved Ardley said that the focus was now on matters very much on the pitch. He said:
“It’s a really huge relief and it has gone on far too long; we know that. But hopefully, it is the start of something good at this football club. The new owners have got their reasons for buying a football club and it’s very positive.
“They are not going to throw fortunes at it, and want to put a model in place that grows success over a longer period of time. They’re really enthusiastic and that’s all you can ask for.”
Other stand-out fixtures tomorrow include two teams facing each other who ran Salford City close for promotion last season as Harrogate host Solihull Moors, while Barnet welcoming Yeovil to the Hive looks like another intriguing encounter. Keep an eye on Wrexham versus Barrow, too.