Weather Icon 7.1°C Rain
The Football Season Is Back….Kind Of
Tuesday 5th July 2016 @ 10:22 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

This weekend marks the first installment of pre-season friendlies for our local sides.

Curzon Ashton begin their pre-season campaign with a short trip to Mossley.

Saturday’s clash will provide Curzon boss John Flanagan with the first glimpse of his new-look squad.

Having preserved their status as National League North club last season with a remarkable 11th place finish, Curzon have been busy signing new recruits over the Summer period in order to give them the best of chances to build on that success during the 2016/17 season.

While Flanagan retained the core of his squad at the end of last season, the former Mossley boss has also brought in a whole host of new exciting players.

Ian Howard has joined the Nash to provide strength in the attacking department, while defender Jack truelove, who was on-loan with the club from Oldham last season, has joined on a permanent basis.

Former Crewe Alexandra youth team striker Jonny Higham has put pen to paper at the Tameside Stadium.

The 18-year-old was described by the club’s website as “a quick centre forward with a super attitude”.

Attacking midfielder Ryan Hall joins from Evo-Stik Division One North club Brighouse Town, where he played a crucial role in their rise up the pyramid, making 175 appearances and scoring 65 goals.

Curzon will, however, be without the services of club captain Alex Brown this season.

The midfielder has taken the decision to retire from the game in order to focus on business and family commitments.

Goalkeeper Hakan Burton, who recently signed a contract extension with the club, will take on captain duties for the forthcoming campaign.

Mossley enter the new season buoyed by a Manchester Premier Cup Final victory against Stalybridge Celtic in April.

The Lilywhites claimed a rather surprising 3-1 victory over their near neighbours who sit two divisions above them.

Retaining the cup ultimately ended what had been a topsy turvy season for Peter Bands side, who finished 13th in the Evo-Stik First Division North.

Meanwhile, Stalybridge Celtic look ahead to the 2016/17 season with a relatively familiar squad.

Manager Liam Watson has retained the core of his team with no less than 14 players opting to stay at Bower Fold.

However, Watson has brought in three notable signings in the form of Andy Owens, Nick Ryan and Danny Pilkington.

Pilkington – brother of Cardiff City midfielder Anthony – has previous experience in the Football League.

The lively winger came to prominence while playing for Stockport County between 2008-2011.

Ryan, a central defender, has joined from Evo-Stik First Division North outfit Burscough, while Owens, a striker, has joined from Marine.

Celtic begin their pre-season schedule with a home clash against recently promoted Barnsley on Saturday.

Droylsden will once again be competing in the Evo-Stik First Division North next season.

Dave Pace’s side endured mixed fortunes last season, subsequently finish the campaign in 19th spot.

The Bloods begin pre-season this weekend with a trip to Brickfield Futsal FC.

Having just laid an artificial pitch at Ewen Fields, as well as signing a whole host of new players, Hyde United will begin next season with a new-look stadium and squad.

Manager Darren kelly has made his intentions clear over Summer, bringing a mix of experience and youth to the club.

Curtly Martin-Wyatt, a striker, joins Hyde having played for Stocksbridge Park Steels, Leeds City Rovers and Garforth Town.

However, Wyatt will not be joined as originally expected by fellow striker Mike Norton.

The 35-year-old has opted to move to Glossop North End.

Hyde’s defence has been strengthened with the signings of Matthew Dempsey and Jack Garforth, while centre-back Adam Jones has been retained from last season.

Hyde have also recruited the services of French goalkeeper Thomas Beaurepaire.

The 22-year-old is expected to be the first-team’s number one for the 2016-17 season after arriving at Ewen Fields.

Hyde begin pre-season on Saturday with a trip to Nelson.

Having suffered play-off heartache for the third consecutive time last season, Ashton United will be hoping to make it fourth time lucky in step seven next season.

The Robins will begin the 2016/17 campaign with a new goalkeeper.

In a bid to focus on his managerial role, player/manager Paul Phillips has opted to bring in the vastly experienced Grant Shenton.

The shot stopper made 200 appearances for Ramsbottom United and was captain of the side throughout last season.

Ashton have also brought in Richard Smith, Jamie Forbes, Sam McMahon and Ryan Crowther, as well as Liam Brownhill from FC United and Scott Metcalfe from Warrington Town.

The Robins begin pre-season with a trip to Abbey Hey on Saturday.