Recent arrival Junior Morias has been among pre-season scorers.

FOOTBALL: Since my last column of a month ago things have stepped up a pace as the first game of the National League season of August 21 begins to become just that bit closer. 

We now find ourselves at the halfway point of pre-season with another three weeks to complete the fine tuning of the team and for the new players among the numbers becoming more familiar with their new surrounds. 

To date from what I have seen, and heard, the training has been going very well. Most of the players who have joined the club in the close season are no strangers to the full time training scenario and it has to be said that, of the players who remain from the last term, most are used to it from their previous clubs, with only a very few being new to this regime. 

It’s fair to say that the manager has also been enjoying having the players on a much more regular basis and having more time to work with them, be it on an individual basis or in a group. This summer has seen the biggest turnaround of players for a while and the extra time everyone is spending with each other can only help when things become real next month. 

We have had the same core of players at the club for around three seasons and with the departures of the likes of Ryan Jarvis, Michael Gash and Adam Marriott it was clear that adjustments would have to be made. With the extra time now being spent in training hopefully they shouldn’t be strangers come next month. 

Pre-season training goes hand-in-hand with pre-season games and we have begun that schedule with two home games a couple of weeks ago against strong MK Dons and Norwich City teams, along with trips to Gorleston and Chelmsford. 

The MK game was split into four 30-minute segments and proved to be a good watch for the crowd of around 300 or so. Considering at that point we had only been training for three days, compared with our visitors who had been back in full training for two weeks, I thought we gave a very good account of ourselves against a League One side who many feel will be pushing for promotion. 

For that game we included a handful of triallists who populated both teams we put out over the 60-minute sessions. 

The Norwich City game was an equally enjoyable evening played in very warm conditions, in front of around 1,500 supporters which was really good to see and hear. Indeed it was the first time in 16 months that The Walks had seen a crowd of that size and it did take a little getting used to as an empty ground had become a little too normal last season. 

Again we put on a great display, scored a good goal from Ross Barrows following a super shot from Junior Morias which rattled the Canaries’ bar. 

I caught a word with a few Norwich supporters after the game who were complimentary towards the club in general and indicated that they would be back to support the club when the Canaries are away or not playing. Manager Daniel Farke also had some kind words about his opposition and the pitch which has played well for both games to date. Tim and his team at TH Groundcare have been working hard now for the last few weeks and the results are clear to see. The pitch has received a seed over dressing as well as two feeds of fertiliser to date which have helped improve the thickness of grass as well as a darker shade of green colour. Add to that the thousands of litres of water that have been applied which have helped the overall appearance, you can understand why it looks so well.

Shrimpers tasty first on menu

FOOTBALL: We also received confirmation of the League fixtures in the last weeks which has provided the club with a very tasty opening day encounter with Southend United on August 21, reports Mark Hearle.

The ‘Shrimpers’ were relegated from the Football League last season and will no doubt be very keen to get themselves back in there as soon as possible and will be looking for a good start to the season, as of course will we. The following weekend we make the long trip to Yeovil Town before returning back to West Norfolk for a big Bank Holiday clash with Chesterfield on the Monday. 

A few of us at the club felt that there was a strong chance the Southend game may have been selected for live BT Sport coverage; however they opted for the Bromley v Grimsby Town game. We do not have to wait long until we do feature in front of the TV cameras as our home game with Dagenham & Redbridge on September 11 will be shown by BT. That game will have a 5.20pm kick off. 

The draws for the FA Cup and Trophy competitions will be made over the next few weeks but compared to previous seasons we now enter these matches at much later rounds than we used to, so they will not be out for a few weeks yet.

Finally, even though we are still just about in July some of our local Thurlow Nunn League sides begin their seasons tomorrow. So best wishes from me to all of those involved at the likes of Swaffham, Downham and Fakenham who kick-off their new seasons over the next few days. 

Let’s all hope for a full season of games for all the clubs involved and that all supporters of the clubs can get back to supporting their teams from the touchlines on Saturday afternoons and midweek evenings.