The Evo-Stik League Southern
Published 16th August 2012
After winning promotion last season, the Robins kick off in the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division at Bedworth United on Saturday.
At the start of his fifteenth season in charge, Joyce will lead the top-ranked non-League team in Devon for the first time.
"To give a club in our area Southern Premier football is a massive step up," he said.
"We are very lucky. Some clubs never play this high up the non-League Pyramid.
"We'll probably be massive underdogs. You're messing with the big boys, that's the difference here. It's a proper league now. Proper clubs, proper grounds, proper budgets.
"A lot of the clubs are pushing to go in Blue Square Bet South."
Joyce hopes supporters will continue to get behind the team as they did following promotion from the Toolstation Western League in 2010.
"It's going to be a difficult season, we know that," he said."The fans stuck with us that first year when we won seventeen and lost sixteen. They were brilliant.
"I remember Sholing beat us 5-2 and it could have been 11-5. They battered us.
"I thought afterwards they might have a little dig but they appreciated what we were up against and people were telling me what a good game it was."
Apart from Ben Wood, who has joined Frome Town, Bideford have kept together the same squad as last season.
After looking at a host of players over the last month, Joyce has made two signings.
Veteran striker Ellis Laight returns for his third spell with the club, having played for Bovey Tracey in the Carlsberg South West Peninsula League last term, including a stint as player-manager.
Jed Harper-Penman, the younger brother of Bideford defender Aaron, has joined on a three-month loan from Plymouth Argyle.
"We've had a good pre-season," said Joyce. "Every game has been competitive and I've been able to split the squad in half and give everybody 90 minutes."
Bideford rounded off their friendlies with a 1-0 win over Merthyr Town, the Western League champions, at the Sports Ground last Saturday.
Kevin Squire headed the only goal from a cross by Matt Bye.
Matt Andrew, suspended for the opening game at Bedworth, returns for the first home fixture, against Gosport Borough on Tuesday.
"If we stay in the league it will be a massive achievement," said Joyce.
"That's not being negative. We'll go on the front foot and try to win every game.
"If you're big and brave you win more games than you lose. We've probably got the smallest squad and the smallest budget in the league but we've probably got the biggest hearts."