Kevin Ward has issued a stark warning to followers of Corby Town ahead of the new season.
The new first-team coach was on hand with boss David Bell to put the players through their paces as they returned for pre-season training at Steel Park on Tuesday night.
The Steelmen are preparing for a campaign in the Evo-Stik League South after they suffered a second relegation in the space of two seasons back in April.
Ward, who had a playing spell with the Steelmen in the past, knows a thing or two about Corby’s new surroundings having been in the division with both Stamford and beaten play-off finalists Spalding United last season.
And he insists the level can’t be taken lightly.
“This is a good club and I was fortunate enough to play for Corby myself when they were in the Southern League a few years ago so I know a bit about it,” Ward said.
“I know this division we are going into because I had a spell at Stamford last season and then went on to Spalding United and we just missed out in the play-offs to a good Witton Albion side.
“I saw the highs and lows last season but we are well aware of what we need to do to steady the ship.
“The club has been in a bit of a downward spiral so, for us, it’s about making sure we have the right mentality and the right players for what is needed.
“For anyone who thinks it may be easier after coming down, mark my words when I say that this league can be ruthless.
“The most organised, fittest and disciplined teams will be the ones who do well but having seen some of the movement at various clubs I am sure there will be a few challenging for the two promotion places as well as the play-offs.”
As far as the opening training session of the summer was concerned, Ward was impressed with what he saw from a Steelmen squad which is still taking shape.
“We had a good turnout with 23 players there and three of them were goalkeepers,” he added.
“It’s always a bit difficult at this time of year because we have got a lot of players away on holiday so during pre-season so the time they get with us we will be doing ball work and we will be asking them to do some work themselves away from the training ground.
“We had a good mixture on Tuesday. Quite a few of the senior players were there and then we had some of the academy lads involved as well.
“And I was very impressed, not only with how fit the players are already but also with the quality they had on the ball.”