TRAFFORD will feel confident they can build upon their strong end to last season and compete for the play-offs as they bid to improve on last season’s finish of 8th place. Pat Dook assesses how the club will fare in 2016-17…
Their newly appointed manager and ex-player Tom Baker boasts a wealth of football knowledge and will be hoping to convert his on field ability into his own managerial philosophy this season at Shawe View.
His first season at Trafford ensured his side only saw five defeats in 22 matches from mid- December onwards in all games, and that will give them the necessary encouragement to push on and challenge for promotion.
Further encouragement for Baker’s outfit comes from a strong pre-season campaign. They are yet to record a loss and have tallied up some heavy-scoring victories, including a 6-0 win over Abbey Hey away from home, and another thumping 7-0 triumph over Prestwich Hey’s also away from home.
With 19 wins last season, The North managed to rack up the highest goals total outside of the Evo Stik Division One North’s top five teams.
They will be hoping to tighten up in crucial areas and improve on their 15 losses last season.
First five games:
1. Burscough (H) – Saturday August 13
2. Glossop North End (A) – Tuesday August 16
3. Prescot Cables (A) – Saturday August 20 (The Emirates FA Cup)
4. Ossett Town (H) – Saturday August 27
5. Radliffe Borough (A) – Monday August 29
Nicky Platt (from Nantwich Town, free): Platt is an experienced midfielder and from a young age caught the eye of teams such as Liverpool and Burnley. He has served for a combination of teams including Stalybridge Celtic, Salford City, Witton Albion, Stockport County and Bamber Bridge. During his career he has also had spells with FC United of Manchester. Trafford will be hoping this well-travelled 28-year-old will be able to pull the right strings in their midfield ensemble.
Craig Robinson (from Warrington Town, free): Robinson, the veteran 33-year-old defender has not only playing experience but has tried his hand in a managerial role at Ashton United. He too has previous clubs under his belt, originally starting at Blackpool, Robinson has played for Morecambe, Vauxhall Motors, Droylsden, Hyde United and Warrington Town. His know how for the game and experience will help steady the ship and tighten things up for Trafford this season.
Terry Smith (from Nantwich Town, free): After turning professional in 2005 this keeper won the managers` and supporters’ player of the year Awards in his first campaign at Ashton United, before moving to Nantwich in 2013.
Kingsley Williams (from Ilkeston FC, free): With quite a decorated playing career Trafford will be aiming to use all of his acquired knowledge and experience to help them push for promotion. Starting at Sheffield United’s youth club, he has also spent two years playing in Australia for Sydney Olympic before moving to Spain playing for Cultural Deportiva Leonesa in the Segunda División.
Ally Brown (from Warrington Town, free): The North will be familiar with this face, Brown is returning to Shawe View where he first signed for the club in 2012. He made 55 appearances and bagged six goals before departing for pastures new.
Josh Granite: The captain, along with new signing Craig Robinson, will be the leaders this season on the pitch. Bags of experience and playing time under his belt, Granite will set the tone right from the back as to how Trafford will play. A solid Granite can only get the club off on the right foot…
Chris McDonagh: The 32-year-old signed in January 2015 from Curzon Ashton. He has had a lively pre-season campaign and has found the net five times helping Trafford to victories. They will rely on his experience and his goal scoring nature to drive them to the desired top five finish. If the goals dry up, so could the points for Trafford.
Aaron Burns: Much like McDonagh there is plenty of pressure on Burns to deliver consistently. He has had a steady stream of goals in recent seasons but needs to be the division’s top man sooner or later. With the pace of Williams and Martin potentially flanking the side, expect Burns to have plenty of opportunities to convert chances into goals.
Tom Baker has sculpted an interesting looking back room staff including Assistant manager Chris Shuker. He started his career in the academy at Everton and Manchester City and has made over 400 Football League appearances including first team appearances for City in the premier League under Kevin Keegan.
In addition to Shuker, Dave Andrew has been appointed as the club’s goalkeeper coach.
Tom says: “Dave is someone who came highly recommended to me by several people and his CV speaks for itself. Having been at Stockport County for 16 years and also part of Witton Albion staff for several years it was a no brainier for me.”
This new backroom duo offers great experience and with what appears to be a strongly bonded connection already, acts as a platform for Trafford to begin to build ahead of this 2016/17 season.
There is no denying Trafford have talent in their squad on the field too with goalscoring duo Burns and McDonagh offering more than plenty going forward.
Combining their unbeaten run in their pre-season campaign, and new recruits under their belt Trafford will be hoping to push for promotion this season coming.
By Patrick Dook
NB: *All information is correct as of August 2*