Men on a mission

FOR Phil Snowden the memories of last season s relegation hurt more than anything he has experienced in his footballing career. Royston Town paid the price for an up-and-down season, and as a result followed Haringey Borough into the Molten Spartan South

FOR Phil Snowden the memories of last season's relegation hurt more than anything he has experienced in his footballing career.

Royston Town paid the price for an up-and-down season, and as a result followed Haringey Borough into the Molten Spartan South Midlands League Division 1, where they will face the likes of Harpenden Town, Buckingham Athletic, and Cranfield United.

But Royston boss Snowden revealed his optimism for the new campaign and outlined some of the problems he felt contributed to the club's relegation.

He will be taking his side into London for games with Kentish Town and Sport London e Benfica, matches that cannot come quickly enough for Snowden.

He said: "After the disappointment of last year, I can't wait to get the season up and running.

"And compared to this time last year, we're definitely looking stronger - things are promising."

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"The nucleus of last year's squad remain with Lee Rogers, Pete Chappell, Graham Tibbals, Dave McMurrough, and Stuart Snowden all involved again," said the 53-year-old.

Keeping a strong unit of the club's most experienced players is a step Snowden feels will go some way in eradicating Royston's inconsistency, and the naivety of some of its younger players.

He said: "One of the key areas that we need to be looking at is our consistency.

"I want a settled side that can play together and understand how each other plays.

"Last season we gave the ball away in dangerous areas, didn't pick players up, and failed to hold a game when we were in front.

"However, these are things that will no doubt improve with consistency and experience.

"We had a few youngsters in the side last year, with both Michael Bloss and Sam Booth doing well.

"But it's a big step up from the youth team, and sometimes the younger boys were a bit naïve.

"With a few new faces coming in and added to the experience we already have I'm confident we can improve our consistency."

As reported in The Crow last week, both Seb Ndombe and Kojo Ofori return to the squad for the new season, with former Enfield Town boss Snowden also bringing in ex-Town midfielder Kevin Reilly.

The new faces have been welcomed by captain, Snowden's son Stuart, who is also hopeful the club will bounce straight back into the Premier Division.

He said: "I think we needed to freshen things up, and from what I've seen of the new players, it looks like they will add a lot of competition to the squad - which is important.

"We've got to be looking to win this league and get back into the Premier - that's where a club like Royston should be.

"From a player's point of view, I think we really let the management down last season. This year my dad and Rob Henry look like they really mean business.

"We're being put through our paces in training, and I think the players know what they've got to do to help the team bounce straight back.

"We have the players to be a good little side - we just need to get it together."

Snowden senior echoed his son's view by insisting that when things were going well, Royston were a match for any team last year.

And assistant manager Rob Henry said: "The table doesn't lie and the fact we finished second from bottom was not good enough.

"However, I do think at times we were desperately unlucky. We struggled to keep the lead in games we should have won and often let our advantage slip.

"At times we played some good football and to be honest I don't think we deserved to be where we ended up."

Snowden said: "At times the team's reputation cost us. Our disciplinary record went before us, which is not an excuse but I do think that affected the outcome of a few games.

"This season, discipline is something we are looking at very seriously. Last term we had one player who received 18 yellow cards in all competitions - which is just not acceptable.

"I have had to put a new code of conduct in place, where the players are now responsible for their fines," said Snowden.

"Their fines were costing the club up to £50, and for a small club, that works out at a lot of money. It's money that can be now put to good use."

In five years at Enfield Town, Snowden won nine trophies, including the Essex Senior League title (twice) and cup (twice), and the Middlesex Charity Cup.

He said: "After doing well at Enfield I came to Royston at the beginning of last season with a lot of hopes.

"For a number of reasons things didn't go to plan and we went down, and that hit me hard.

"It was the first time I had experienced relegation and it wasn't a nice feeling. I know Stuart was disappointed, as was everyone associated with the club.

"The club means a lot to me and it shouldn't have to see such failure. A club like Royston needs to be in the top leagues and competing in the competitions - it's what it deserves.

"And despite the setback I really believe this is a club that can move forward, and that starts by winning the league.