Manager Jamie Tompkins says Ascot United are going into the new season in a very strong position, on and off the field.
The Yellamen see early Emirates FA Cup action as their home extra preliminary round tie against Holyport has been brought forward to this Friday due to a big international race meeting at Ascot on Saturday.
“It’s a local derby, so hopefully we will attract a big crowd,” he said.
“Holyport will be well up for it and they won’t make it easy for us, but hopefully we will get through to the next round when we will go to Risborough Rangers or Lydney Town.”
Despite losing 3-1 to visitors Binfield last Saturday, Tompkins is happy with how pre-season has gone, adding: “but I am pleased it’s over and we can’t wait to get going and play competitive football again.”
The manager admits he is disappointed that the Yellamen were not promoted to the same level as Isthmian League newcomers Binfield.
“It’s great what the FA have done to restructure the leagues although I feel we were unfortunate ourselves not to go up ourselves,” said the manager, whose side will be playing in Premier Division North of the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League.
“But we are looking forward to playing different opposition. It’s going to be quite new for us as there are not too many teams – perhaps six or seven – who were in the previous Combined Counties League, so a lot of new teams and players to come up against though there are also some old friends from the Hellenic League.
“It’s quite exciting as I always like playing against new clubs so I am looking forward to going to their grounds, I relish that challenge.
“The restructuring also means less travelling, more local derbies, so that should bring in more fans and increase the revenue for clubs.”
There is always a touch of extra class around Ascot and that is probably more apparent than ever before.
Tompkins continued: “The great thing about this club is that it is always improving on and off the pitch, and even more rapidly off the pitch at the present time. It is a great place to be for local players of all ages to play for the club on a lovely 3G pitch with excellent facilities.
“The staff we have here are fantastic and the amount of support these guys (players) get at our level of the game is tremendous. They definitely are grateful and in return, they are working hard on the pitch to perform well and win games. It is a good place to be.”
A number of new players have joined and Tompkins adds: “Everyone has been working really hard on their fitness. They are all starting to look sharp again and there have been some good performances with new players fitting nicely into our system.
“We have made some good signings and I’m really pleased they wanted to come and play for us. They like what they see here and what the club is looking to achieve. They have helped to make the squad even stronger.”
New signings include former Bracknell and Binfield player Sean McCormack, Keaton August from Windsor and Tom Scott, a young midfielder.
The Yellamen’s boss is also delighted that players are returning from injury, including Dan Price, Calum Ferguson, who has been out for at least a couple of years, Rory Merrick and Chris Ellis, who played a big part in their successes a couple of years ago.
He remarked: “Them returning is an extra bonus for us, as it’s almost like having new signings. It’s great to have them back, and we are really pleased with the way our squad is shaping up. We just can’t wait for the season to start.”
Following last Saturday’s game, Binfield joint-managers Jamie McClurg and Carl Withers, said: “We must thank Jamie and Ascot United for hosting us. There is nothing better than playing a local derby, even in pre-season games. It was a good game, with high intensity from both teams.
“Ascot are a top side and they will certainly be going for it this season, you can tell that by the size of their squad we saw today, their new signings and what is going on around the club. They probably deserve to be at the same level where we have gone up to.”
Tompkins would agree to that and hopefully, it won’t be long before the Yellamen step up a level, adding: “We want to be playing at the same level as clubs like Bracknell and Binfield.”