‘I’m excited at the prospect of a competitive game’ – Bobby Wilkinson

Bobby Wilkinson. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com
Bobby Wilkinson. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

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It’s been a busy summer for Bracknell Town and manager Bobby Wilkinson. As the 2019/20 season was curtailed, the Robins had topped the Isthmian League South Central Division One form guide and looked set to gate crash the play-offs as the ex-Hungerford Town boss masterminded a solid end to the season.

Of course, world events got in the way, but now, Wilkinson has had time to shape his squad and work through a full pre-season: “We’ve had two draws, a defeat and a win. Except from Saturday, all the teams we have played have been at least a division above. I don’t really care about pre-season results though, it’s about testing my team and getting them ready for the season.”

It looks to be a smaller squad for Bracknell going into the season but supporters will be pleased to see the return of the likes of Seb Bowerman, Mark Scott and Max Herbert as well as a few new faces, though according to Wilkinson his business is now done: “There shouldn’t be any more signings. I’ve got a small, tight squad of 19. We kept the players we wanted from last season, there are five or six new lads but its a balanced squad full of effort and commitment.”

Max Herbert. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

Bracknell learned their FA Cup opponents on Tuesday evening, and Wilkinson was looks set to take the competition seriously. He said: “I’m surprised the FA Cup prize money went down, but it’s not something I get involved in. Usually, all my focus is on the league, but this year, with the FA Cup, any money you can make for your club and chairman right now you have to take seriously. I’m looking forward to the draw and finding out who we’ve got. I’m excited at the prospect of a competitive game, we need that pressure of winning and losing meaning something.”

It certainly looks like fans could well return to ‘recreational football’ as it termed by the Government very shortly. Prior to a BBC report published on Tuesday evening, the Bracknell manager was firmly in support of getting fans back in to ground: “Fans should be allowed in the grounds as long as clubs can do it right. It’s important for the mental health of people and it’s important for the clubs.

“It goes without saying, Covid-19 is very serious and still is, but it’s important now after such a long time we can get fans back in grounds where it’s safe to do so.

“You’ve got to open the gates and give people the choice. You have to have the choice, use some common sense and try and get peoples lives back to normal. I don’t think any of that will be before October though.”

Mike Percival and Bobby Wilkinson. Photo: Neil Graham / ngsportsphotography.com

Off the field, Wilkinson is backed in particular by assistant Mike Percival and he was particularly pleased with the way his team had dealt with a very unusual situation: “My backroom team have stayed together. We’ve built a good unit. We’ve been doing one to one’s with the players and then groups when we’ve been allowed. I want to credit my staff and the chairman for the way they’ve reacted to, and dealt with the situation.

“We’re away to Windsor tonight (Tuesday) and at home to Slough Town on Saturday. I’m thankful Windsor are allowing us to play on their pitch and I’m really grateful to Neil Baker for bringing his National League side to us, I wanted a real proper test for us and a step 2 side will do that. I want to wish everyone well, stay safe and we’ll see you soon!”

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