Words: The National League; Graphic: Vanarama
LEAGUE sponsors Vanarama have been getting the fans’ perspective ahead of the new season – which kicks off on Saturday. Chorley regular Martin Ramsbottom runs through the big kick-off and beyond..
It has the potential to be a big year for Chorley – what are you most looking forward to?
From a fan perspective, this is euphoric. We have grown our fan base dramatically over the last decade with many young people now following the Magpies. Certainly for me this is the first time in my lifetime we have been at this level so new grounds, new teams, the whole spectacle we are looking forward to.
People thought Matt Jansen’s departure might have derailed things last season, but it seemed to have had the opposite effect. What has Jamie Vermiglio changed?
Many fans feared the worst, but Jamie’s appointment was astute. It may sound like a cliché but he lives and breathes the club. In terms of changes he transformed us from a defensive-minded defend-what-you-have mentality to build on that core defensive structure, set a whole new formation and make us very attacking. Key to that was the signing of Elliot Newby from AFC Telford United.
Have any transfer deals stood out more than others?
The best bit of business has been keeping the core of last season’s squad together. That group of lads have an unbelievable spirit and I am not sure how they raised themselves from the darkest depths of being beaten with the last kick at Spennymoor on Easter Monday when we just needed to draw to take an advantage into the last game. To go on and get promoted speak volumes about them, they all deserve a shot at the National League. In terms of new players, I think the acquisition and return of Mark Ross will strengthen our already strong defensive capabilities.
A new league this season but what else will be different?
Probably going into games and the opposition not having a siege mentality against us as the front-runners in the league. We are underdogs again now and an unknown quantity for many which could make a lot of fixtures gloriously unpredictable. I think we will achieve some surprising results.
Who will be the ones to watch once the season starts?
I am going to go for our near neighbours AFC Fylde. They came very close last season and won the FA Trophy of course. Since then they have managed to retain Danny Rowe and made a lot of signings, I’d expect them to be up there.
And who else could join them up the top?
My tip for promotion is Wrexham. They have a fantastic fan base and finished well last season. If they can get their signings to gel early, they may just go on and win the title. I don’t fancy Yeovil or Notts County, but I expect Chesterfield and maybe Hartlepool to finish strong. Outside chance for Stockport as well, they are well drilled.
What away trips are a must this year?
I am really looking forward to visiting the London clubs, as for Chorley to play in the capital feels truly surreal. Up until recently we weren’t meant to be travelling to Aldershot and that looks a great day out. Overall, probably Dover as after such a long journey it will feel so removed from the National League North grounds that we have become accustomed to.
If you could choose one game to guarantee all three points, who would it be against?
We obviously now have a grudge match with Stockport having been the two horses of the National League North last season! They were the first team to really unpick us and beat us 3-0 twice at Edgeley Park in the league and the FA Trophy. However, I must speak for all the Magpies and say that to go to a slightly more famous set of Magpies and win at Meadow Lane would be truly special.
Who is one opposition player you’ve always wished was yours?
That’s a difficult one. I always said Tom Denton would be an excellent fit for Chorley as a true marksman. He really put Alfreton in the early season mix last season before he went to Chesterfield. When he gets a run of games, he can be lethal.
Who will be the surprise package?
It was great to see Solihull over-achieve last season; they went from a couple of seasons of surviving to nearly getting promotion. That’s what’s so exciting about this league. I am interested to see how Woking will fare although I think Barrow may surprise many.
Where will Chorley finish in their first season in the National League?
Personally I, and I know many have said anything above relegation will be a bonus. I would love us to be the dark horses of the league, that is dream territory. So 14th or thereabouts is my honest answer.
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