Andrew Warshaw looks ahead to what fans hope will be Enfield Town’s first full season in three years
The wait is over. Enfield Town FC begin the new league season on Saturday, 14th August when they make a challenging trip to Carshalton Athletic – with a new captain in popular midfielder Scott Thomas and a keen sense of anticipation for the long campaign ahead.
Andy Leese’s squad is still being finalised, with a number of signings in key positions, but once again expectations are high that the Towners can reach the play-offs come next April with, hopefully, a couple of decent cup runs thrown in.
The squad will be slightly smaller but the nucleus of last season’s squad is being retained, including Nathan McDonald, Jeremiah Gyebi, Josh Urquhart, Lee Chappell, Percy Kiangebeni, Junior Mubiayi, Lewis Taffe, Sam Youngs, Adam Cunnington and Neville Nzembela.
Off the pitch, considerable improvement work has been made during the close season, including a new and larger club shop, situated close to the turnstiles, and impressive new outdoor refreshment facilities and increased overhead cover for supporters.
While the club would like to have celebrated its 20th birthday on the date of the actual anniversary in June, pandemic restrictions at the time rendered that impossible.
Instead, a number of other events were organised, not least a hugely successful pre-season fixture in front of a bumper crowd of 866 against a Tottenham Hotspur under-23 development squad, which Spurs won 4-0. To add to the sense of occasion, Spurs legend and club ambassador Gary Mabbutt presented a signed shirt and ball to the respective winners of an auction that raised over £600.
Four days later, the Towners visited FC United of Manchester for another special warm-up game between two fan-owned clubs. In what was billed as a “celebration of fan ownership“, FC United ran out 3-1 winners.
The next celebratory landmark takes place on Saturday, 7th August against Grays Athletic for the FSA Supporters Shield. The match will be immediately followed by outdoor entertainment and it is hoped as many supporters as possible will stay to enjoy the occasion.
Having acquired a number of crucial grants and a couple of extra sponsors, the future looks bright and a competitive playing budget has been put in place. But the more supporters as possible who get behind the club, the better.
On the coaching side, Ian Hart (previously with Southend) has been brought in as first-team coach and is regarded by Andy Leese as a crucial appointment, not just because of Ian’s experience but also his level of contacts. Ian is also involved in the academy setup so provides a key link between the first team and the youth section. Mario Noto, Graham Dodd and John Abbott all remain as part of the management team.
With Covid-19 restrictions now lifted, as a gesture to the NHS free season tickets are being offered to local health staff and care workers as a thank you for their work during the pandemic.