New Kimberley Miners Welfare manager Paul Rawden says he is looking forward to the challenge of leading the club into the highest level of football in its history.
Welfare have been accepted into step six of the non-league pyramid following their second place finish in the Notts Senior League last season, and will now play in the East Midlands Counties League.
And having taken over from George Hulley who is now the club’s general manager, Rawden, whose most recent role was as assistant manager to Gary Hayward at the now defunct Eastwood Town, is keen to see Welfare establish themselves in their new league.
He said: “In terms of Nottinghamshire football, there aren’t too many clubs left who I feel have the potential to grow as many are suburban clubs, but Kimberley is a town and therefore there is greater scope to build.
“There’s good support locally, the club has two grounds at its disposal and therefore there shouldn’t be an issue where we’re having to find somewhere else to train, and it’s run by good, honest football people. It’s a breath of fresh air to meet people who run the club for the right reasons.
“I’ve had a break away from football as it was tough being part of clubs that were struggling to stay alive, but my batteries are re-charged and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Kimberley were pipped to the Notts Senior League title by Selston last season but Rawden says the majority of the playing squad has been retained, with some good new signings also having been secured.
And Rawden believes the club will hold its own at the new level.
He said: “The aim of the game initially is survival and we won’t be making any rash statements about what we may be able to achieve.
“But the nucleus of the squad is good enough to make an impact. There are lots of players here from the local area who are here not for the money, which is important as there is no real budget to speak of, but because they can play for their local club.
“We’re getting a decent side together and will have former Notts County man Mark Draper helping out with the coaching too.”
Among the new signings are former Rotherham and Long Eaton United man Jacob Webster, brothers Nick and Roberto Labbatte, ex-Scunthorpe U19 captain Richard Dean who joins from Dunkirk and experienced midfielder Kelvin Mushambi.
Rawden added: “Martin Lench is one of those to have committed to the club and will captain the side, and several other members of the squad are also staying on.
“Kelvin is 38 now but has great experience and that will be key, and I’m really happy with the other signings.”
Of Kimberley’s overall prospects, Rawden said: “Not many teams will know much about us but I know the league well and it’s very competitive.
“We’ll give it a good go. Ultimately we want to be competing in the FA Cup and sustaining ourselves at this level, but initially it’ll be about building a good platform and, now that we’re the highest-ranked team in the area, giving local fans a good option to come and see.”