NFU v Braintree Town (NL)

National League

North Ferriby United v Braintree Town

Saturday 6 August  2016

 Kick-off: 3.00 pm

The long wait is over. Saturday will be another momentous day in the history of North Ferriby United. The Villagers will make their debut in The National League when Braintree Town visit The Eon Visual Media Stadium. The turnstiles will be open at 1.30 and there will be strictly no admittance to the ground before this time.

The last five seasons have been by far the most successful in the club’s history. They’ve won two league cups one league title which saw them promoted to the National League North, two runners-up spots in that division in three seasons. The second one saw them win promotion at the end of last season via the play-offs. And, of course, there was the memorable and historic FA Trophy victory at Wembley in 2015.

Hopefully, there will be a large crowd to watch Steve Housham’s team make yet more Club history. For the fans it will be their first chance to see the new players in competitive action. There will also be players on view who they will not have seen as they did not appear in the two pre-season home games.

Housham comments,
“I’m still pinching myself at us being in The National League. It is going to be a massive challenge for us all. We are probably the smallest club in the league and we will face massive games each week.”

Assistant manager Darryn Stamp added,

“It’s a good time now. We’re all looking forward to Saturday. We’ve now got something to work towards.”

Braintree will be an interesting test for Ferriby. They finished third in The National League last season but missed out on promotion by losing to Grimsby in the Play-ff semi-final.

Like Ferriby, Braintree apparently has a relatively small budget and squad. However, their performance last season showed that it is possible to compete with full-time professional clubs who are in the majority in The National League.

Braintree and Ferriby have had similar close-seasons. Like Housham, Braintree’s manager Jamie Day is a new appointment who has had to build a squad almost from scratch after a large number of departures at the end of the season.

Day said,
“I knew it would be a really hard job to literally start from scratch but the new players have come in and worked hard in training. There’s still a lot of work to do but it’s taking shape.”

These are words that Housham and Stamp will echo.

Ferriby’s pre-season performances have been somewhat mixed. This was to be expected given the number of players that Housham and assistant manager Darryn Stamp have viewed over the last few weeks.

Housham says,
It’s a cliché, but the spine of last season’s side was ripped out with so many players leaving at the end of the season. Darryn and myself have used our contacts. I’ve been selling the club to the prospective players and reminding them of the level they would be playing at if they joined the club. Darryn has been dealing with the financial side of it.”

The Villagers’ squad is relatively young but they are all players who will want to make their mark. The season provides them with a great opportunity to be in the shop window. The team will be on television each week in either a live fixture or the highlights show.

Perhaps the proudest man on the field on Saturday will be captain Danny Clarke as he leads out the team for the first time in a competitive fixture. His has been an amazing story. He has risen from playing Hull Sunday League football on park pitches to the National League. Clarke, himself, will admit that he is not the most skilful player at the club but he is one of the first names on the team sheet. This is because of his constant effort and positive attitude that really sparks the team. He is a big favourite of the fans and deservedly so and is a popular choice as captain.

Clarke says,
“I’m proud to be captain of this club and Saturday will be a tremendous day both personally and for the club. We know it will be a challenging season but our intention is to go out and enjoy the ride. We will probably be underdogs in most of our games but that has been the situation for much of the last five seasons.”

Housham believes it will really hit the players when they walk in to the dressing room on Saturday afternoon and see their shirts hanging-up complete with squad numbers and names. For many of the players this will be the first time they have worn shirts like this.

Speaking at Tuesday’s training session, Housham said,

“I’m 90 per cent certain of my starting line-up. However, the players have tonight and Thursday to nail a place in Saturday’s squad.”

Ferriby from: Rory Watson, Sam Topliss, Steve Brogan, Connor Oliver, Mark gray, Danny Emerton, Danny Clarke, Curtis Bateson, Connor Robinson, Ryan Kendall, Simon Russell, Taron Hare, Ryan Fallowfield, Ben Middleton, Louis Bruce, Darryn Stamp, Ross Armstrong, Jordan Cooke, Jake Skelton, Vinny Mukendi

Car parking will be available at North Ferriby Primary School. The cost will be £2, all of which goes to school funds. Please follow directions from the stewards.

There will be a penalty shoot-out for fans at the game. This will take place at half-time. The tickets will cost £1 and all the entrants will be put in a hat, three will be drawn out to take penalties against Ferriby’s substitute goalkeeper. The winner will get a Football manager game as a prize.

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