Simmons’ new look Dereham Town side poised for big kick-off
- Credit: IAN BURT
It's the start of a new era for Dereham Town on Saturday, with Neal Simmons taking charge of a competitive match for the first time - and upwards of half a team poised for their league debuts.
After nine years of assisting his good friend Matt Henman it's time for Simmons to take centre stage himself as the Magpies kick off their Bostik League Division One North campaign with a home clash against Cheshunt (3pm).
The experienced former Dereham No 2 was regarded as a natural choice to take over following Henman's decision to stand down at the end of last season and will now be aiming to prove he has what it takes to maintain the club's progress at step eight of the English football ladder.
Simmons has already made his mark by signing over half a dozen new players while also bringing in some experienced support into the dug-out - and he can't wait for the real action to get under way at Aldiss Park.
'It's been a busy summer, that's for sure,' said the new boss. 'There have been a lot of comings and goings on the playing side, while I have also brought in Wayne Anderson as my assistant and made Matt Parkinson first team coach. The three of us have already built up a good understanding, even though it obviously feels a little bit strange standing out there without Matt around!
'We were together as a team for such a long time, and we still speak on a regular basis, but now it's time to move on and it's gone well in pre-season.
'There has been a big turnover – there could be around six new players in the team on Saturday - and it will take time for things to settle down but I'm confident we will give a good account of ourselves. The one thing I can guarantee is that we will continue to play the way we did under Matt. The idea is to play attractive football so people keep coming back week after week.'
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New signings include goalkeeper Elliot Pride, defenders Sam Garner, Steve Taylor and Ollie Ebbage and strikers Ashley Jarvis and Jamie Forshaw.
Dereham kick off with two matches in four days, with a trip to newly-promoted Mildenhall coming up on Tuesday (7.45pm).