Newport City manager Sam Houldsworth has a ambitious outlook ahead of the new season after what he described has been a positive pre-season for his side.
The Gwent side have been preparing for the new season in Division Three and have been touted as one of the favourites for the Division title.
Houldsworth’s side suffered relegation from Division Two last season and now the club are looking to what was a positive end to the season, with a number of wins to strengthen their position.
“With regards to relegation most of the players coming in knew the likelihood of us going down and so did I myself.It was always going to be a big ask but we still managed to finish strong which helped in our recruiting for this season. It’s been pretty smooth so far and has been a very positive pre season.
“I haven’t ever worked this hard before when it comes to football and this pre season added onto last season has been difficult at times.”
A major part of pre-season is to recruit players to void the gaps of though who have left the club and bring in players who are ready for the challenge of Division Three.
The club have recruited well and have signed a number of players from divisional rivals Ely Rangers, including the signing of Mark Dunford who joins the club as Sam Houldsworth’s assistant.
The experienced striker has played for a number of sides at Welsh League level, most recently being Ely Rangers and Pontypridd Town.
“Getting Dunny involved was something I wasn’t expecting to happen as I tried last season when he left Pontypridd. When he called it was a given to get him on board.
He is superb tactically and he is a very likeable character, the lads respect his personal achievements in Welsh league and appreciate someone who knows the game at this level.
He has the bug again after a difficult season last year and he is by far the stand out signing for this club in pre season as his input is invaluable. Plus the most important thing is he is also a mate and that is such a huge help when managing a team together.”
With Dunford being an option as both an influential player and a coach, the pair have winning the league title as the main aim for the season ahead.
“Our aim has to be to win the league, myself and Dunny have recruited like-minded players who are ambitious.”
Also joining Mark Dunford at Newport Stadium is Lee Bridgeman, Kareem Junior, Gareth Taylor, Martyn Micklewicz and Geraint Passmore.
Bridgeman, Junior and Dunford have all joined from Ely Rangers ahead of the new season with all having experienced in Division Three before
“Lee, Kareem and Mark all gelled when at Ely Rangers so it definitely helped as they trusted Mark made the right decision when coming to Newport City.
Muzzy has now signed this week too from Ely and the most important thing for these lads is that they bought into the project at the club and believe there will be big things to follow.”
Fresh in the minds of many, Houldsworth was part of Pontypridd’s rise through the Welsh pyramid system and has described his time at Ynysngharad Park as a happy one. This time though he says it’ll be different, as he is his own man in this position, rather than a coach and is looking forward to the task in hand.
My experience with Pontypridd winning division 3 was one I look back at with great memories and will definitely help me this season.
However I must admit though this is a new chapter, a different club, new players and with limited resources will be a tough ask in what is a difficult league to get out of. It took us 3 attempts with Pontypridd which shows the standard in League 3.
The clubs first game is this Saurday as they travel to Momouth to play Treowen Stars, a side that finished mid table in the division last season.
Sam himself has already come up against Treowen before and has praised their style of play, with all the hopes of getting a positive result out of the game.
Treowen is a very good challenge, not one that will be looked upon as anything other than a tough game. I have never had an easy fixture up at their place and when playing them previously have found them to be a team who play the pitch superbly.
We will need to make adjustments and in doing so we will play to the surroundings and hopefully come away with a positive result.
Many clubs want to put themselves out on all media platforms and improve their stature within the Welsh media and afar and Newport City themselves have taken part in radio interviews with Radio Newport, as well as being part of the Port Hour.
“Our social media and website is just the start of what we have planned and the success of this is down to the people we have managed to get in behind the scenes. Craig,Joe, Marc, Matt, Josie and Alan have been superb so far in helping as well as the continued sponsorship from VW.
I can’t express enough my gratitude to all of these people as they have not only helped keep the club alive but are helping build the next chapter.
Come what may of this season one thing which is guaranteed is that this club will be heading in the right direction and with one of the best stadiums in Welsh league we don’t want to let ourselves down when it comes to giving Newport a club which the community will soon get behind for the right reasons.”
(Featured Image: Will Cheshire)