Ian Culverhouse now has the full-time attention of his players.

FOOTBALL: We are a week away from the start of the 2021/22 National League season, meaning the trials and tribulations of friendly fixtures are at a close. 

I’m not a fan at all of them but I understand why they are needed and also the importance of them to all concerned. 

From manager Ian Culverhouse’s point of view, he will have found out more about the players at the club from last season and an awful lot more about the new faces, who have joined up over the past weeks. 

The full-time model of training will also have helped greatly as opposed to the two evenings a week from only a few years ago. 

Ian is a first-class coach and will have enjoyed the extra time he has been able to spend with his new-look squad ahead of what is another important season for everyone at The Walks, from the chairman right down to the people serving snacks to hungry spectators. 

Pre-season has been what that period is all about, trying things out; new formations, new ways to do things etc. 

Results do not matter, regardless of some rather excitable comments I saw across social media last Saturday. 

I’m sure the manager and his staff found out an awful lot more about the team after the defeat at Alfreton than, say, the win over Peterborough United before that. The only results that need to be remembered start in a week’s time. They are the ones that count. 

In the meantime, there is another week for the fine tuning to continue and for the manager to get across his plan for throwing a spanner in the Shrimpers’ works on the opening day of what is a marathon season.

It’s not only on the pitch where new faces have arrived at the club over the summer weeks. Off it, two noteworthy ‘newbies’ are in place. 

Firstly I must extend a warm welcome to Stuart Murphy, who has taken one of my old roles, becoming the stadium manager. I handed over the keys to Stuart a week or so ago, following a dry run at the Peterborough fixture. 

Stuart brings a mixture of enthusiasm and care in his work to the club and will, I am sure, prove to be a valuable asset. There is an awful lot involved in the role, some of which many wouldn’t give a thought to, ensuring things go as smooth as possible. 

Another new name to the backroom team is Steve Plunkett who, is the new occupant of the best seat in the house – the match day announcer. Steve takes over from Bob Holden (thanks Bob) who did a magnificent job last year. 

Steve is a self-confessed football and music nut and will be the voice of the club on a matchday. 

It’s (yet) another job I have filled over the years and it’s not easy, I can assure you. It ranges from stadium announcements to birthday requests and (if required) emergency evacuation. 

Steve’s boundless energy will see him provide a great service and I know he cannot wait to get started, just like many of you reading this column I suspect!

I also have a new colleague on the YLP pages and welcome Sam Plummer as the new Linnets correspondent. Good luck Sam and I hope you will enjoy writing for West Norfolk’s biggest-circulating newspaper as much as I do!