Safety first goal for underdogs Guiseley

Mark Bower
Mark Bower
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If Guiseley require any extra motivation ahead of their first-ever season in the National League, then they do not have to look far to find it.

Scan a variety of betting websites and ‘expert’ columns and the like and the message will be the same – that the Lions are destined for a quick return to the Conference North from whence they came.

Manager Mark Bower is not losing any sleep over the talk and has cited his side’s defiance of the odds in clinching promotion through the play-offs in a remarkable end to last season as proof that Guiseley are a side who people write off at their peril.

On whether those knocking his side’s prospects serve as a motivational tool, Bower, speaking ahead of his side’s first-day assignment at Welling United tomorrow, said: “Possibly, yes. People have written us off before and when we went into the play-offs last season, I think we were the outsiders of the four and we were written off a bit there.

“But we proved them wrong there and also dealt with adversity well last season with the injuries that we had.

“Everyone wants to prove someone wrong. People do seem to be writing us off, but we won’t get too focused on what other people think about us, whether it is good or bad.

“We just concentrate on our jobs and do that to the best of our ability.

“We are confident in what we have got in and what we have managed to keep that we are more than capable of competing and doing well.

“I saw some site saying we were the favourites for a bottom four finish and I think people are probably looking at us and thinking we are going to struggle. But I have every confidence in the players that we can get some good results and put in some good performances.”

Guiseley are one of a number of part-time outfits pitted in with a number of full-time former league clubs who are seeking to reclaim what they see as their rightful place back in the Football League.

Among that number of Grimsby Town and Tranmere Rovers, who were competing in the second tier of English football not too many moons ago alongside others who have been accustomed to better times in the likes of Wrexham, Lincoln City and Cheltenham Town.

Bower acknowledges it will be tough for his side to make their mark, but he is not cowed.

The pragmatist in him has identified the first priority as securing safety, but it is clear that he also wants more too.

He said: “I don’t think there’s any real target other than getting to that fifty-point mark as soon as possible, so that it gets us safe.

“The sooner we get to that, the better and when we get there, we will look where we are and assess and then hopefully have time to kick on as well.

“It is a little bit of an unknown that we are stepping into.

“But we certainly think that, looking at the likes of Altrincham and Halifax the year before last, we can make an impact, once we find our feet.”

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GUISELEY may be venturing into the unknown in 2015-16 against a host of sides they have never faced before, but they have done their homework.

It starts with tomorrow’s opponents Welling, with the Lions facing a 420-mile round-trip for their first National League assignment.

Trips to the likes of Welling, Boreham Wood, Eastleigh and Dover represent epic trips into the unknown in many respects, but Bower says that he and staff will not be caught short.

Scouting may seemingly be problematic, but Guiseley’s bases will be covered, with Bower and his staff having a good working knowledge of tomorrow’s opponents.

He said: “We have had people down there to watch games and we know plenty enough about Welling and have done our homework on them.

“They stayed up last season and going down there, it will be a difficult place to go.

“But we are looking forward to it and it’s an interesting one to start with and we get that overnight trip in straightaway.

“It’s plenty of travelling and a welcome to life in the Conference, really.

“We are there or thereabouts and we will certainly be able to field a strong side in that first game and we will give it a go and are looking forward to it.

“We will be well prepared and also concentrate on what we have got to do and will make sure we play how we want to and stamp our authority on the game and the league in general.”

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THIS time last year, the Conference North grapevine was buzzing with talk of how big-spending Harrogate Town were going to fare.

Despite a raft of high-profile signings, including the likes of James Walshaw, the 2014-15 season soon fell flat for Simon Weaver, now in his seventh season in charge.

Town, who flattered to deceive in a 15th-placed finish last term, visit Brackley tomorrow.

The club this week brought in Connor Bower to add to the earlier signings of Dom Knowles, Andy McWilliams, Joe Colbeck, Danny Ellis and Brendon Daniels.

Weaver said: “It is going to be tougher than ever before, so we’re just going to try work our socks off and finish as high as possible.

“If we can get in the top six, then it would be a real success.

“It will be tough to do that because all the clubs in our league have strength in depth.

“Teams like Fylde have also strengthened as have Stalybridge. On paper, there is not many weak outfits.”

Martin Drury’s Bradford Park Avenue welcome Alfreton.

The season also gets underway in the Toolstation NCEL, with play-offs taking place in Division One for the first time.

Liversedge, under a new boss in Jonathan Rimmington – with the new chairman being ex-Leeds United defender Leigh Bromby – kick-off the Premier Division campaign at Clipstone.

Paul Lines’ Nostell MW, without the services of Rob Bordman, make the lengthy trip to Cleethorpes Town, while Graham Nicholas’ Garforth Town entertain Rainworth MW.

Newly-promoted Pontefract Colls, who have retained most of their squad, welcome Armthorpe Welfare and Thackley are at home to Barton Town OB.

Tadcaster, now under the command of Billy Miller and keen to sustain their title charge this time around, host Maltby Main and Albion Sports go to Retford.

Wayne Benn’s Hemsworth, seeking to build on an impressive 2014-15 season, start the Division One campaign by making the trip to Hallam.

Eccleshill United head to Grimsby Borough and Glasshoughton, under the management of Mick Norbury, will glad to start a new chapter after a poor 2014-15. Welfare kick off at home to Lincoln Moorlands, while Teversal are the visitors to AFC Emley.

Dave Ricardo’s Selby Town head to Winterton Rangers, with Yorkshire Amateur, hosting Hull United.

Record breaking striker Ashley Flynn has moved to Yorkshire Amateurs from Emley

Non League (NCEL): Full guide to West Yorkshire's clubs in Northern Counties East League in 2017/18