Huntingdon Town begin their United Counties League season at Desborough Town on Saturday


- Credit: Archant

HUNTINGDON Town will go to Northamptonshire for the opening game of their UCL Premier Division campaign on Saturday with the manager, Ricky Marheineke, still not entirely sure just how good his team is.

Huntingdon are much-fancied to build on their fourth-place finish from last season and Marheineke has made some astute signings during the summer, but he told The Hunts Post: “Until we play a serious game, I am still in the dark, to be honest.”

He said: “Everyone is in the same position after listening to and talking to other managers.

“What with injuries, work, holidays, the Secret Garden Party, we haven’t been able to field a full-strength squad in pre-season – but we haven’t been the only ones in that position. It’s not been ideal but we have done as well as can be expected.

“The level of our performances has been good and the players have responded to everything we have asked of them.

“Come Saturday we will see.”

Huntingdon have a great chance this season of following in the footsteps of St Neots Town and St Ives Town and winning promotion to the Southern League.

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The arrival from Godmanchester Rovers, of the cultured 23-year-old midfielder Mike Hyem could the catalyst for a title challenge with defenders Mark Cox and Pat Bexfield adding strength at the back in front of the new goalkeeper Tim Trebes.

But the team will miss last season’s captain Ricky Dear – who has quit the game unless he is really needed – and Dan Drane, who along with Josh Crick has joined the new UCL Division One side Peterborough Sports. Jamie Blackwell has signed for Godmanchester while coming in from Histon on loan this week is young midfielder Curtis Fulcher.

At Desborough, Marheineke will be without Jack Warwick, who is unavailable because of work commitments, and Victor Torres, who is still in Spain. “But there’s no need to panic,” Marheineke said. “We will have enough. It’s going to be a tough league this season but we won’t be making any excuses – we will give it a go.

“Desborough will be a tough team to start with; they have been spending big bucks and signing top players – but we are prepared.”

Marheineke is hoping to add a few more players to the squad after the season has begun. He says those he is talking to want to see what happens with their present clubs when their seasons get underway.

There are some strong teams in Huntingdon’s division – AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Spalding United, Holbeach United (who they will play at home next Wednesday – what a second game!) and Wisbech Town – but don’t dismiss the boys from Jubilee Park lightly; they have a real chance of a top six finish at the very least and if things go well, perhaps even the title.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the club will welcome a team of Tottenham Hotspur legends to Jubilee Park. The game against the Spurs Legends will kick-off at 3pm.

Paul Hunt, the Huntingdon chairman, said: “We want as many people as we can get to turn up for this event. There will be face painting, kids activities, penalty shoot-outs and, of course, the game against the Spurs Legends.”

Meanwhile, the club is also preparing for a visit from Ray Wilkins, the former Manchester United, Chelsea and England star.

The TV pundit will be the guest of honour at a charity dinner on September 7 at Commemoration Hall in Huntingdon.