Mark Stimson offers update on Urchins pre-season preparations

Hornchurch FC friendly reaction

Hornchurch FC Manager Mark Stimson discussed his team's preparations for the new season. - Credit: Ben Gaby/TGS Photo

Mark Stimson has lifted the lid on the Urchins pre-season preparations with the new campaign fast approaching.

The Hornchurch FC manager spoke to the Recorder between two friendlies, with his charges set to take on Dagenham and Redbridge this weekend after beating a Southend XI 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Stimson said the Shrimpers' game - played against a mixture of U23 and U18 players - represented a "good workout" for his players, and allowed him to put a couple of new tactics into practice ahead of the season.

While this fixture was ostensibly for fitness, the next friendlies are about "getting minutes into the players”.

With that considered, the Urchins will face a "stern test" in Dagenham and Redbridge this weekend.

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"This is a big game for us, and we thank them for agreeing to it. I know their manager Daryl McMahon quite well, so it’ll be good to catch up with him," Stimson said.

The manager hopes that facing full-time players will prove a beneficial experience for his charges as they approach what's sure to be a "tough season".

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Stimson believes that up to ten teams believe themselves capable of winning the league this year, a level of competition which should make for compelling viewing.

The Urchins - still buoyed from their FA Trophy win last season - are amongst that pack.

For Stimson, getting "as many supporters as possible back in the stadium" will be key to any success this season.

"We're just hoping for a full season with no interruptions," he said.

With the Urchins average gate somewhere between 350-400, the manager hopes last season's success puts a few more bums on seats.

According to Stimson, bringing that number up to around 500 would be the sweet spot.

While that is a long-term aspiration, the current focus lies with getting ready for the upcoming campaign.

Stimson concedes that pre-season is something of a necessary evil, and like many managers, simply hopes to get through it with "minimal injuries".

The manager also confirmed that the open top bus parade to mark last season's trophy success - originally scheduled for July 11 - has been rescheduled for August 8.

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