Banbridge Town boss Ryan Watson is already moving to bring in some experienced recruits to bolster his squad for next season.
They finished sixth in Championship Two this season and, although the manager is delighted with the progress his side have made during his first year in charge, he’s looking to add to his panel in search of swift improvement.
“There will be a few more experienced heads needed next year,” he said.
“We had Damian McParland and Glen Waddell who helped the young lads along this year. They are good guys to have around and we need a bit more experience like that.
“You never stop. The season and the training might be finished but as a manager you’re constantly looking at who’s available, who would be interested in coming and making a lot of phone-calls. It never stops but that’s all part of it.
“If we want to have a vision to progress and try to make a step up, it’s important that we do boost the squad. I’ll be actively doing that even from this evening when I get home, sounding out a few things,” Watson added after the final whistle had blown at his side’s 4-1 season ending victory over Lurgan Celtic on Saturday.
Town boss Watson is hoping there will be some movement on transfers into the club in the not too distant future:
“No new players have signed yet but teams are just finishing off and some players are having a think about things and coming back to me. Things are positive and hopefully I’ll have something in a week or two.”
Watson is also hopeful that he won’t lose any of his current panel of players.
He said: “All the squad members are signed up and commited for next season. Everybody wants to be a part of what we’re trying to do on the pitch.
“We’ll try and bring in as many quality players as we can next year and local based players as well. There are good local players around currently playing outside Banbridge but we want to keep it local.”
Also playing a big part in Watson’s squad looking ahead will be the club’s emerging talent, not least David Grey, who netted his first goal for the first team on Saturday.
“I was absolutely delighted for David,” said Watson.
“He’s been waiting on the bench for the last few games. I was tempted to throw him in from the beginning on Saturday but I stuck with the players that had done well all season.
“He showed his quality on the ball. He’s got a great future in the game. He took his goal really well and was involved in a lot of quality play in the second half. He’s a great bonus for us.
“He’s a cool customer and likes to take players on. I like to see wide men who take players on and get the cross in. He has got all the potential to become a permanent member of our first team squad.
“It’s all there in front of him if he keeps knuckling down and working hard. There’s good coaching there for him and we’ll keep bringing him on as best we can.”
And it’s not just him Watson is hoping will make the step up next season:
“We also had Gareth Orr coming off the bench on Saturday. He’s another promising young lad.
“It shows other young players from about the town that progression into the first team is there and opportunities are there if they’re dedicated enough and have the ability.
“It’s players like that who we want to bring up from the youth ranks into the first team.”
It’s been a season that has surpassed all expectations for Town, who ended the season in better shape than when it began.
Watson said: “There have been a lot more highs than lows from where we were when I took over and there were no players signed up at the club at all. It was all about getting players rounded up and getting them to buy in to what I was trying to build at the club from scratch.
“To get the players that we got and for it to be such a tight-knit group was great. The players have been a credit to themselves all season. We’ve had highs and a few lows but you’ll get in football a young experienced squad.
“At the start of the season, I would have taken half-way up the table so I’m well pleased with how things have gone.”
And Watson was also understandably pleased to end it all on a positive note at Lurgan Celtic.
He said: “We were coming off the back of two defeats, although we hadn’t played badly in either of those two games so it’s nice to round things off with a win,
“Over the last few weeks, we had targetted getting 50 points and we managed to get a few goals on Saturday too.
“We struggled to get going a wee bit in the first half. Maybe there was a wee bit of end of season syndrome there but we really stepped things up in the second half.”
Now that Watson has matters on the pitch well in hand, he’s appealing for Town supporters to lend a hand at Crystal Park:
“We need a lot of help of the pitch. We need people to come through the turnstyles and a lot of hands on help around the club. The playing side is progressing well but we need things to progress off the field.”