ILKESTON FC begin their life in non-league football this weekend - with manager Kevin Wilson adamant that laying the foundations for the future is of paramount importance.
The Robins host Goole AFC at the New Manor Ground on Saturday just 11 months after Ilkeston Town Football Club was liquidated in the High Court.
That set in motion a series of events which ultimately see competitive football in the town returning once again, something which Wilson says he is thrilled to see after the shock he felt following the previous Robins’ demise.
“We’d spent a long time building things up and felt we were well on the way to having a structure both on and off the field,” he said.
“But then everything fell apart and we were suddenly left without a club.
“What we did have, however, was a thriving academy, and not only that but SR Education and Dave Mantle in particular were already there and helping things along.
“Having all of that helped us keep the New Manor Ground, and also gave us a continuous light at the end of the tunnel with the lads’ performances on the pitch.
“We were then thrilled that the chairman’s business plan and outline of our infrastructure was good enough to get us put into a league only two levels below where we were before, and now we look forward with great optmism.”
Wilson has run the rule over several players during pre-season, including many from the Robins academy and also free agents, as he aims to build a squad capable of competing in the Evo-Stik League Division One South.
And he now feels confident the players he’s accrued will be up to the job.
He said: “We’ve got players like club captain Russell Cooke, who has great quality and experience and will help the younger lads around him, as well as young, raw talent in the shape of those who have come through from the academy.
“But it’s more than just having good players. They’ve got to be mentally prepared for what’s coming, as many places they’ll visit won’t be as impressive as the New Manor Ground, and when teams come here our lads will probably get battered and bruised a bit.
“The first priority is to build the foundations for the future. People have to remember we’re a completely new club, and, as I always say, without the foundations a house will fall down, so we have to ensure everything is right.”
The Robins boss also says he is excited by the prospect of Saturday’s game, whilst at the same time being well aware of what could lie ahead.
“Saturday will be immense. If there’s a big crowd then the players will need no more motivation to go out there and do the job,” he said.
“After that, we know there will be frustrations and excitement throughout, and everyone, including me, will have to show some patience at times.
“But I always have three aims at the start of a season. Firstly to get enough points to avoid relegation, then to be looking at a play-off spot, and after that, if promotion is possible, to go for it, and I think if we can average four points every two games then we’ll be there or thereabouts.”