Firstly, as is usual at the end of a season, we had a clearout of the unwanted players and said our goodbyes to those on loan to us from other clubs. In that last category we saw Kelvin Langmead, Lewis Kinsella and Ben Whitfield return to their respective clubs: Ebbsfleet, Aston Villa and Bournemouth in that order. Ebbsfleet have yet to come out with their retained list so we don't know yet if, as expected, Langmead will come back here next season while Kinsella was released by relegated Villa just a few days before the Premiership season ended. He will probably now join a League club because he's far too good for national North level.
As for everyone's player of the season, Ben Whitfield, he had the honour of travelling up with the Bournemouth first team squad to Old Trafford last Tuesday evening so it looks like their manager Eddie Howe is taking the feedback about him seriously. Fair play to the lad, he works hard and deserves it but I think next season he'll also go on loan to a League club and that could be the making or breaking of him.
Those released were nearly all fringe players at Aggborough, bar one, or those out on loan. Jordan Jones, Gurjit Singh, Reece Hales, Jono Brown, Aman Verma and Lathaniel Rowe-Turner were the ones to be told they were no longer needed but the release of Dean Snedker (left) was the surprising bit of news. Yes he can be a bit slow in his distribution but he had no other real faults that would make him not good enough for the lower level and it'll be interesting to see where he ends up. The feeling was he could have gone to newly promoted Solihull Moors but they signed one of our old keepers, Nathan Vaughan, the other day whereas I would have expected them to go for someone better if they want to stay at the higher level.
I expect Aman Verma to join Torquay soon following his loan spell there while the others could end up more locally at the likes of Stourbridge and Halesowen.
We already have Elton Ngwatala, Ousmane Fane, Arthur Gnahoua, Zaine Francis-Angol, Tyrone Williams, Kennedy Digie, Jordan Tunnicliffe, Dan Sweeney, George Forsyth, Nathan Millichamp, George Taylor, James Hancocks and Ben Clarke on contracts for next season but already the jungle drums are rolling regarding one of those leaving with rumours being spread by the down market Team Talk that Ousmane Fané is being watched by League clubs but that rumour was also being touted around a few months back. If he does go then we'll be demanding a fee for him but I'd rather he stayed with us.
That just leaves Jared Hodgkiss, Evan Garnett, Keith Lowe, James McQuilkin and Omari Patrick to decide if they want to accept the offers made to them or seek employment elsewhere. Personally I think Hodgkiss will leave following the poor treatment of him in the closing stages of the season when he was demoted to the bench.
Now well into close season the friendly games are starting to be lined up but so far nothing too mouth watering enough to get people flocking to Aggborough on a hot July afternoon or evening. We start off at Stratford Town on July 9th and then have games at home to West Brom (16th) Hereford (26th) before going to Halesowen on the 28th. The last game will be at home to Birmingham City on August 2nd with the new season starting four days later on the 6th. No doubt more games will be added in the next week or so but don't hold out any hope of close season excitement just yet.
As to the start of the actual season the fixtures are expected to be announced on July 6th (give or take three weeks) and will start on August 6th. Sadly I'll be away that weekend so I'm praying for an opening game away from Aggborough and hopefully not at somewhere interesting. Curzon Ashton would be a good one to miss.
On this website front I'm slowly working through updating the links pages from the Premiership down mainly due to the idiosyncrasies of the Football Ground website changing their links midway through the season leaving loads of dead pages and using a file naming structure that is frankly archaic. I have also added two new pages to the site with links pages for the North and South and that was fun, believe me, with so little information about those clubs and all using the, also archaic, Pitchero website software. Don't expect much info about opposition team news from me next season.
I'm also looking at designs for a new front page to the site and possibly an update to the message board in the next week or so but I have an extension being built mid July so I might be busy labouring instead.
That's about it then apart from the news released yesterday that the FA want to restructure the Leagues in two years time. I haven't had chance to look at the plan in detail yet but it won't concern us for a while methinks.
Unless we have some earth shattering news I'll do another update in about three weeks time so don't go away.
Photo © KHFC