Towners prepare for ‘toughest-ever division’

Andrew Warshaw looks ahead to a new season under a new manager for Enfield Town FC

QE2 Stadium will be seeing some improvements made this summer
QE2 Stadium will be seeing some improvements made this summer

Pre-season is almost over, the players have been put through their paces by new manager Gavin Macpherson, and his backroom team and all eyes are now firmly on 12th August.

That’s when Enfield Town FC’s new season gets under way with a home game against Concord Rangers, who were relegated from the second tier of non-league football at the end of last season and are likely to provide strong opposition at the start of arguably the toughest-ever Isthmian League Premier division campaign, on paper at least.

Town’s second game takes place just four days later with a mouth-watering local derby at Potters Bar, followed by a trip to Folkestone the following weekend.

“Pre-season was all about putting down markers and being ready for that first game of the season and where you need to be,” Gavin said in the build-up to the eagerly awaited 23/24 season and a new era for the borough’s largest non-league club.

Renowned for his front-foot philosophy, the first two pre-season outings were both about concentrating on how the players worked out of possession, then in later matches switching to how they performed with the ball.

All the new signings have been prominent in pre-season with new goalkeeper Rhys Forster showing a commanding presence while Louis Birch’s lung-busting industry and Ollie Knight’s crossing ability will surely be huge assets. Also raring to go is Reece Beckles-Richards, who is Enfield born and bred.

When Reece, who has played for three of Enfield’s local rivals, got a chance to join from Cheshunt and move a few miles down the A10, he made up his mind pretty fast.

“There’s not a more local club I can play for and it didn’t take long for the gaffer to sell it to me,” said Reece. “I’ve lived in the borough my whole life and now live literally five minutes from the ground. I could even walk there in 20 minutes. I guess it does seem odd that I never played for Enfield before given where I was born and brought up.”

Expanding on what it was about Gavin that drew him to Town, Reece continued: “A lot of it was down to his honesty. I’m at an age now when I know instinctively if a manager is telling me the truth rather than trying to spin things.”

“I had a few other Step 3 clubs interested in me but when it came about, it just made sense. I’m hoping to bring lots of goals as well as entertainment. I like to have fun. Obviously I want to win and the aim is to finish as high as possible. Promotion is obviously the ultimate goal but I understand that’s not always realistic.”

As for the manager, Gavin has quickly made a strong impression on everyone at the club, not least the fans. And vice versa. “I knew what this club was about,” he said. “Of course there could be pitfalls along the way because you have to produce and this is a tough old league. But I got a feel for it straight away. They’re a passionate group.”

As well as a raft of new players, Town have also changed catering company to serve food and drink on match days. Based in Ponders End, Cooking Champions is a local registered charity who believe in the power of food as a force for good.

The company brings the community together for food education workshops, open kitchen sessions, community lunches and more – the perfect partner in terms of fitting with Enfield Town’s fan-owned community-driven ethos.

In a statement the company said: “Supporters will be offered an array of high-quality food with all profits going straight to our charity. This will help to continue our essential food support that has been running every single week since April 2020. Thank you to Enfield Town FC for this opportunity and we can’t wait to see what the season brings.”

Enfield Town FC 2023/24 August fixtures:
Sat 12 Aug (H) Concord Rangers Isthmian Premier 3pm
Tue 15 Aug (A) Potters Bar Town Isthmian Premier 7.45pm
Sat 19 Aug (A) Folkestone Invicta Isthmian Premier 3pm
Sat 26 Aug (H) Cray Wanderers Isthmian Premier 3pm
Mon 28 Aug (A) Haringey Borough Isthmian Premier 3pm

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