Jarrow Roofing supremo Richie McLoughlin can’t wait to see his team get their pre-season friendly calendar underway on Saturday as the Roofers target a top eight finish in the first division of the Ebac Northern League this season.
“It’ll be good to get off working on the pitch and to be back in the dugout seeing some games being played,” McLoughlin said ahead of Roofing’s trip to Scotland at the weekend.
“We showed in the second half of last season that we can compete and I’m hoping we can improve on that in the new season. If we can take that form forward we’ll be difficult to beat and will prove a challenge to everyone in the league.
The joint manager and driving force behind the Boldon-based club added: “It feels a long time since the end of the season but I’m looking forward to our first friendly to gear up towards the start of the season and for all the hard work to pay off with a game.
“Having lost some players, like goalkeeper Lewis Brass who is going to America, Calvin Smith and Michael Mackay who have returned to Consett and Paul Chow who has moved to Hebburn, I’ve worked hard to get new players in and we’re all now looking forward to see how the new additions combine with those we have retained as we move through pre-season.”
When asked about his hopes for the new season ahead of Roofing’s first pre-season outing at Scottish Lowland League side Selkirk FC, joint manager Mark Collingwood said:
“We’re not deluded, we know we won’t be competing with the likes of Morpeth right at the top, but we are looking to finish somewhere around the top eight.
“We’re going through a building process at the club and a top eight finish would be great progress for us and give us something to build on.”
The Roofers, who finished 13th in the league last season, have added goalkeeper Shaun Newbrook and midfielder David Palmer from Collingwood’s old side Seaham Red Star over the summer.
Collingwood was full of praise for the two new signings and he believes they will offer the team plenty this season.
“I know Shaun really well. He was made skipper at Seaham just after I left, which speaks volumes for his character,” he said.
“His attitude is excellent and he’s a great shot-stopper. He’ll win us a lot of points this season.
“Palmer is a great player. Unfortunately, he’s still injured but he’s a midfielder who can get 20 goals in a season when fit”.
On Friday afternoon, the draws for the opening qualifying rounds of both the FA Cup and FA Vase will be made at Wembley Stadium and the Collingwood has made it clear that, although the league is the priority, he wouldn’t mind a good run in the Vase this term.
“Everyone likes to get through a couple of the early FA Cup rounds because they give clubs at this level of football a real financial boost. I want to avoid a Northern League club in the early Vase rounds because they feel like extra league games.
“The thing with the Vase is that if you win two or three rounds it can really open up and you never know what can happen. We fancy ourselves against anybody at home and everyone dreams of that Wembley final”.
As for Roofing’s opposition on Saturday, Selkirk FC finished 15th in the Lowland League last season. Over the summer they have brought in a new manager in respected coach Ian Fergus who has recruited nine new signings.
Collingwood revealed a link he has with the Scottish side: “I took Seaham up there for a friendly and developed a good relationship with their secretary. They had a poor season last year but they’ve got a respected new manager who has brought in a lot of players. It will be a tough game but it’s a bonding exercise for us to go up there and get a few minutes into the legs”.
Roofing will have five players missing for the game. Dennis Knight, Chris Winn, Paul Gardiner, Corey Barnes and David Palmer will all miss the trip for a variety of different reasons.
There are still places available for the supporters’ coach to Selkirk which is leaving from The Shack, Boldon at 10:45am. Seats cost £10 and to book a place, call Richie McLoughlin on 07714 525 549.
The Roofers have also announced details of their season ticket to cover all Northern League first division home matches in the 2017-18 season. These cost £70 for adults and £50 for concessions and can be bought from Club Secretary Dave Ramsey on 07791 707 363.
- Ben Potts