All change at Burton as Smyth aims for a better campaign

Aidy Mann and his Rushden & Higham team take on ON Chenecks on the opening day of the UCL Division One on Saturday
Aidy Mann and his Rushden & Higham team take on ON Chenecks on the opening day of the UCL Division One on Saturday

Joe Smyth is hoping a summer of change will bring rewards on the pitch for Burton Park Wanderers this season.

Wanderers begin their ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Division One campaign at a new-look Latimer Park on Saturday when they entertain Olney Town.

With Kettering Town all set to move into the Burton Latimer ground, a lot of work has been done over the summer to help bring it up to Southern League standard.

For the landlords, there have been plenty of changes in personnel as well with Smyth revealing that as many as eight players could make their debuts for the club at the weekend.

And all the manager is looking for is an improvement on last season when they finished bottom of the pile, despite enjoying a decent finish once he had arrived.

“The big word for us over the summer has been change,” Smyth said.

“Obviously there has been a lot going on with Kettering coming here and it means the ground looks a lot different than before.

“I came here last season when the club was in real trouble and we managed to turn things around a bit. But we have recruited well over the summer and there are probably 12 new players in our squad of 20 and eight are likely to make their debuts on Saturday.

“We have had a good pre-season and got some decent results against sides from a higher level.

“But that means nothing once this weekend comes around. It is going to be a very tough division, there are some good teams in there.

“The only aim for us is to make sure we finish higher than we did last season.”

Colin Ridgway’s Irchester United, who were relegated from the Premier Division last season, start their Division One season with a trip to Harrowby.

It has been all-change at Raunds Town with James Le Masurier and Scott Manning being installed as joint-managers and they kick off their campaign against newcomers St Neots Saints at Kiln Park.

Ben Watts and his Rothwell Corinthians side face what is arguably the toughest first-day game when they welcome Oadby Town, who just missed out on promotion last season, to Sergeants Lawn.

James Daldy’s reign as manager of Whitworth starts with a trip into the unknown as they head for one of the division’s new boys Lutterworth Athletic.

NFA Junior Cup holders Rushden & Higham, still under the leadership of Aidy Mann, take on ON Chenecks at Hayden Road while Ian Walker’s Thrapston Town start their new season with a trip to Bourne.