Mark Roberts’ Captain’s Column
Boro skipper discusses pre-season and looks ahead to the new campaign
The Comet has produced a 36-page supplement ahead of the new Football League season - and you can get your copy outside the Lamex Stadium before the game with Exeter City this Saturday.
Here, in an extract, Boro skipper Mark Roberts talks about what he has been up to this summer as well as looking ahead to the new campaign...
Many professional footballers will say that pre-season is the worst part of their career; it is most certainly the hardest. If I’m being honest I couldn’t wait to get back to work, because like the rest of the squad, the start of the new season can’t come quick enough.
Looking back to the victory in the Play-Off Final over Torquay United at Old Trafford it was a fitting climax to an unforgettable season. Our League 2 campaign was unbelievable to be part of and captaining the lads to promotion was the proudest moment of my life.
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The achievement that our squad has enjoyed does not diminish our collective ambition to taste even more. The hunger to succeed is greater than ever and every one of us is prepared for further success this season. Winning is the Stevenage way.
Due to the play-offs the break we had may not have been as long as players at other clubs but none of us minded. Long gone are the times where a player will switch off completely during the summer and after a period of rest we all had our own individually tailored programmes to get on with. It is the ideal opportunity for you to work on areas of your game that you may not have time to do so during a busy season.
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Personally, I was kept busy with my University placement at Staffordshire University and although it may not have been the ideal way to spend my summer it did give me the chance to spend some time with my family back up north.
When we reported back for training at the beginning of July there were several changes to us as a squad. Luke Foster and Ashley Bayes have both moved on to pastures new and we all wish them well in their future careers. I’m sure all of the supporters will remember Bayzo and his antics for a long time to come.
The departure of teammates is part and parcel of football and the flip side to that is we welcome new players to the club.
Two players who have joined our ranks that will need no introduction to our supporters, are former goalkeeper Alan Julian and ex-Accrington Stanley defender, Phil Edwards. Guy Madjo and Jennison Myrie-Williams have bolstered our attacking options and they are joined by Robin Shroot, who was signed following a series of impressive displays in our recent pre-season friendlies.
The new lads have provided our squad with fresh impetus and all have shown they will make us stronger moving forwards.
Much of the squad has now spent a long time together but it is a dressing room which is easy to integrate into. All we ask is to be yourself and always give your all.
This pre-season has been without doubt my hardest yet but like the rest of the lads I want to push myself even further in order to keep improving. New methods have been introduced into our training regime and will help us thrive at the new level. There is a competitive edge to whatever situation we find ourselves in so you are pushed to the limit whether in a five-a-side or the running drills. There may be the odd moan and groan but I don’t know one single player who doesn’t push themselves to the very maximum possible.
Our opening fixture at home to Exeter City is now upon us as we prepare for life in League 1. We showed last season in League 2 what we are capable of when we were pitted against higher league opposition. We have had plenty of joy in recent times in matches against teams who have succeeded at this level so we are in no way entering the unknown.
The fixture list conjures up some mouth-watering prospects for the supporters with trips to the likes of Bramall Lane and Hillsborough. Yes, we as players will be playing teams with a great deal of history but we are all trying to create history at our own. That is what we have always done in my time here and I know that each player will thrive as we set out to achieve even more.
So get yourself down to the Lamex this season and support YOUR local team.
* Mark Roberts is one of four columnists who will be contributing articles to The Comet this season. The others are Stevenage Supporters’ Association’s Mark Hollis, Boro media man Mitch Jones and The Comet sports editor Damion Roberts.