Kimberley Miners Welfare have made their first two signings of the summer as they prepare for a second season in the East Midlands Counties League.
Welfare secured a 13th place finish in the EMCL last season in what was their first ever experience at step six of the non-league pyramid following promotion from the Notts Senior League.
And now, as manager Paul Rawden aims to improve in all areas during 2015/16, he has recruited experienced striker Steve Chaplin and defender Tommy Hannigan to help bolster his squad.
Rawden said: “Steve finished the season with champions Bardon Hill and has great experience with the likes of Carlton Town so will be a great addition up front. He works hard and is an aerial threat too.
“Tommy has played his career at the higher levels and was with Rainworth last season so again is a key signing. These two lads were my prime targets so I’m delighted to have got them.”
Despite a promising first EMCL season, Rawden says the club will not be resting on its laurels as it prepares for 2015/16.
He said: “There are several areas in which we need to improve. We scored 74 goals last year but conceded 71, suffered a lot of single-goal defeats and also drew ten games, so there wasn’t much between us finishing where we did and finishing much higher.
“This is the busiest time of the year for me as I’m talking to players all the time to see who wants to come to a club that is constantly building.
“Having spent so long in the Notts Senior League, we’re aiming to change any misconceptions about us in that we’re now a club with great ambition and with a growing infrastructure that is, and will hopefully continue, attracting really good players.”
The constitution of the EMCL will be similar to the last campaign with the only difference being champions Bardon Hill moving up a level and Mickleover Royals having been accepted from the Central Midlands League. Kimberley will compete in the FA Vase for the first time and can also now qualify for the FA Cup in 2016/17 should they achieve a top eight finish.
Rawden said: “A top eight finish is a minimum target for me really and is more than achievable based on the last campaign.
“We’ve added two more coaches to the club - Brian Franks and Malcolm Burton, both of whom have great experience and Brian is also a League One scout for Crewe Alexandra - so both will be a big help.”
Improvements to the Stag Ground have also been progressing throughout 2015 and it now meets the relevant ground grading criteria for Welfare to remain in the EMCL.
Rawden added: “The ground is improving all the time and plans are being drawn up for a £300,000 revamp that will see a new clubhouse and changing room area built in place of the current ones.
“We have some funding in place from the council and the next step is to apply to the Football Foundation and Sport England for the remainder.
“I’d hope we can have the facility built in the next couple of years and that in turn will improve the profile of the club massively.