It’s the start of a new era for Dereham Town tomorrow, with Neal Simmons taking charge of a competitive match for the first time around half a team poised for their debuts in the Bostik League North.
After nine years of assisting Matt Henman, Simmons takes centre stage himself as the Magpies kick-off their campaign with a home clash against Cheshunt.
The experienced former Dereham number two 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 in the football Pyramid.
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.
“It’s been a busy summer, that’s for sure,” Simmons told the Dereham Times. “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 tomorrow – 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.”
New signings include goalkeeper Elliott Pride, defenders Sam Garner and Steve Taylor and Ollie Ebbage and strikers Ashley Jarvis and Jamie Forshaw.
Pride`s most recent clubs include Wroxham and Gorleston, while Garner arrives from Fakenham Town.
Taylor comes in from Gorleston and numbers Wroxham, Diss Town and Great Yarmouth Town amongst his former clubs.
Ebbage joins from Wroxham and Jarvis from Fakenham, while Forshaw is Simmons` high-profile signing from Lowestoft Town.