NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: The buzz of FA Cup success would provide the perfect start to Ollie Drake’s reign as Godmanchester Rovers manager
PUBLISHED: 09:42 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:42 02 August 2017
New boss Ollie Drake is craving the buzz that a winning start in the Godmanchester Rovers hotseat can bring.
The 25 year-old is expected to become the youngest manager to be involved in an FA Cup tie when Rovers launch their campaign with an extra preliminary round trip to Northamptonshire outfit Cogenhoe United this Saturday.
They then begin their Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division challenge with a midweek trip to newly-promoted Coggeshall Town on Tuesday.
But Drake, appointed after guiding Hardwick to Cambs League Premier Division glory last term, is keeping any precise targets for Rovers close to his chest.
“I’m not going to give the season a label,” said Drake. “It’s just a case of working hard to finish as high as we can in the league and hopefully have good cup runs.
“Whether we end up 12th, eighth or second, we won’t really be able to judge if it is a success or not until the end of the season.
“It’s been a challenging pre-season in many ways, not least because we have put a new squad together, but we’re pretty happy with where we are going into the new season.
“The players have all got plenty of match minutes and trained well, and everyone is looking forward to getting going.
“The FA Cup means a lot to all smaller clubs like ourselves. It’s a high-pressure game to start the season and it will also be a new experience for a lot of our lads.
“The prize money is always an incentive, but what we really want is the buzz that starting the season with a win will bring.”
Goalkeeper Phil Peachey, defenders Djamel Rerizani and Sam Coe, midfielder Glenn Hodgson, and attackers Jack Chandler and Zac Knight-Percival have all followed Drake to the David Wilson Homes Ground from Hardwick.
Youngster Jamie Short is on a dual registration deal with St Ives Town while fellow defender Elkanah Sibanda has arrived from Histon.
The return of Arran Mackay, who is equally as at home in defence and attack, is another boost.
Mackay left Rovers back in February to help Mildenhall Town complete a Premier Division and League Challenge Cup double, but can’t now commit to the extra travelling involved in playing for that club at Step 4.
There are still plenty of long journeys at this level as Rovers’ opening league fixture at Coggeshall demonstrates with a 125-mile round trip.
Coggeshall finished as First Division runners-up last season and started life in the Thurlow Nunn top flight with a 3-0 win at Fakenham last Saturday.
And they followed up by thumping Stanway Rovers 5-1 last night (Tuesday) to climb to the top of the early-season standings, so look likely to provide a stern opening league test for Drake.
He will be assisted by Chris Hyem, who stepped in as player-manager for two-thirds of last season and successfully steered Rovers away from relegation bother.
Drake added: “From day one everyone has been very welcoming. I’ve had a lot of kind and supportive words from the Godmanchester area and people within football, and plenty of offers of help if I ever need it.
“I’m very happy to be here and Chris is the reason for that. He’s also responsible for keeping the club in this league and he needs a huge amount of credit for what he did last season.
“I’m very much looking forward to working with him as he is such a driving force at the club.”